A Checklist to Improve Your Referring Physician Experience

Referring physician relationships are a prime source of patient acquisition and revenue growth for hospitals, health systems and physician practices. It’s imperative to tap existing and new referral channels, especially for high-revenue and elective procedures and key service line programs. Physicians who respect your organization, feel supported by you and connect with your content will be more likely to entrust you with their patients. Foster that trust with the following checklist.

Prioritize Service Lines/Programs

1. Segment your referring physician marketing outreach by service line/program. Prioritize service lines with capacity for new patients and appointments. Analyze wait times and appointment availability to determine which programs need and can service new patients. Plan your physician liaison visits and targeted email communications to referring physicians who match-up with these service lines and programs.

2. Analyze where your new patient referrals are coming from year over year, and look at trends and opportunities by market, specialty, etc. Prioritize resources to target loyal referring physicians, and keep primary care providers and specialists informed about the capacity to handle their patients.

3. Evaluate your physician-/provider-facing content strategy, content development plan and tracking processes. Use these questions to test if the strategy is working:

    • Is your content deliberate, multichannel and scheduled? Communications with your referring providers should be monthly, at least, and use targeted emails, print newsletters, podcasts, webinars and even hand-written notes.
    • Have you recently audited your content for timeliness, effectiveness, frequency, tone and voice?
    • Is your content planned and created through a holistic process, rather than in departmental silos?
    • Is there adequate depth of content, including your story, health outcomes, your organization’s “firsts,” clinical trial information and rankings?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you’re in good shape.

Audit Your Content

4. Evaluate the provider-facing section(s) of your website. Does your content clearly and succinctly explain your referral process? Is that process communicated everywhere that a referring physician might look for it (e.g., on your main website, on service line microsites, in your newsletter)?

5. Showcase continuing medical education (CME) programs, webinars and events with on-demand viewing. Don’t forget to repurpose content and materials to attract referring providers.

6. Review and audit your physician liaison communications/collateral to answer these questions:

    • Are they educational?
    • Do they share your points of difference?
    • Are they multichannel?
    • Do they share outcomes data?
    • Do they include strong calls to action?
    • What’s missing and what’s not working?

Measure and Refine

7. Approach physician liaison office visits, whether in person or by videoconference, with the objective to generate new referrals. You can increase your chances with a professional presentation deck or video.

8. Establish direct feedback channels with referring physicians to ensure their needs are met. Ensure they receive frequent updates, and route their patients back to them after the medical condition is resolved.

9. Track and analyze your ROI, and conduct surveys to ensure that referring physicians are satisfied with their experience.

10. Meet quarterly with service line marketing leaders and lead physicians for specialty programs to continually evaluate capacity and opportunities, and refocus your efforts accordingly.

For a look at successful referring physician marketing in action, check out our case study on Children’s Wisconsin.