Physician Referrals: 3 Steps To Success – Part 3 of 3
STEP 3: Build Relationships That Endure
The ease of working with an agency, the urgency with which it responds, excellent patient care, consistent communication and authority on the subject of home health are among the reasons why some referral relationships outlast others. Building a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with a referring physician and his staff means that your agency should be geared to keep the physician and his team engaged with regular and relevant communication, while pre-empting ways in which your agency can be of assistance. Here a few steps to ensure that the relationship is constantly strengthened with the right efforts.
- Excellent patient and customer care
Good customer service is crucial to patient satisfaction. Provide customer service training for receptionists, office management, nurses and physicians with a clear process in place to take referrals forward. Make it easy for patients to get timely appointments and consider leaving a few appointments free for urgent referrals. Take the time to explain the treatment plan clearly and ensure that the agency’s staff answer all the patient’s queries. Follow up each patient visit with a call to see if there’s any way you can help. When the referring physician hears that his patient is satisfied with your agency, he’s more likely to send new patients your way.
- Report back
Thank the physician for sending a referral your way. Report back to the referring physician promptly, and keep him posted on patient progress while offering his team any paperwork they’d like shared. Update Electronic Health Records and let the doctor know you’ll be available to answer any questions.
- Send their patients back to them
Referring physicians may worry about losing patients to specialists. Be sure to build trust by referring patients back to their primary care physician and add a note in their report to record that you’ve done so.
- Reward your best referral sources
Doctors and their tend to refer people who they know, like and trust. Track the number of referrals from each physician and be sure to let them know you value their trust. Identify your best referral relationships and focus your efforts on rewarding and engaging with them more often. Meet your best referral sources briefly but often and make sure you have some progress to share. Some doctors may be sending their business elsewhere, use the opportunity to find out why and device steps your agency can take to address these concerns. Make the necessary changes and meet these doctors to show them the progress your agency has made, with the help of their feedback.
- Communicate regularly and with purpose
Celebrate your agency’s successes with referring physician and their staff. Send out a newsletter, a case study or a handwritten ‘thank you’ note. One of the most compelling and cost-effective strategies to improve referrals is to present potential and current referral sources with monthly updates about how to leverage your agency’s services to improve profitability, efficiency and patient care.Let your communication focus on how you’ve made a patient’s life easier or how you’ve helped a practice save time and money. Maintaining regular call cycles by dropping in on a specific day or date each month, means that eventually the doctor and staff will come to expect you. Use each visit to provide referral feedback, outcomes data and education about industry information and specialty programs. Keeping in touch regularly ensures that in time you won’t just be top of mind, you’ll be remembered with warmth and trust.
- Be an educational resource for the physician and his staff
Often, the physician and his staff are often unaware of how home health works and when exactly home health intervention can be called for. Read up and position yourself as an authority on the subject. Educate doctors and staff about the criteria for home care. Help them identify common treatments or patient types that can benefit from home care and thereby avoid a hospital stay. Arming yourself with the right information means they won’t hesitate to seek you out when they have a queries about a referral.