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Clinical Solutions Blog

8 Ways to Boost Doctor Referrals

Posted by Rick Lau on Dec 11, 2014 1:48:00 PM

8 ways to boost doctor referrals

Do you have a killer strategy for doctor marketing? Or are you left wondering why some clinics get all the referrals from doctors while others (like you) get none? Is it because of the quality of care? Personal connections? Kickbacks?

These are all great questions and here's the thing, doctor referral marketing can be a more effective marketing strategy than Google Adwords, or newspaper advertising - both of which can be difficult to get right, not to mention more expensive, too!

If you just get yourself a magic wand, doctors can significantly boost your business. No, just kidding. There's no magic involved in the methods, and they are actually very easy. 

In this post I will share how I generated countless doctor referrals; along with 8 different ways you can start taking your doctor referral marketing to the next level.

How I Generated Countless Doctor Referrals

When I started my first new startup in Burnaby BC, I built a 2500 SF clinic next to a super busy medical practice, spending over $300,000 to built my clinic!   
The medical practice next door had 8 doctors and were seeing an average 400 patients per day. Within 6 months, my brand new clinic was getting 25 new patient referrals per week from their practice. As you read this, keep in mind that I AM NOT a physiotherapist but I was still able to get the doctors to trust me with thier patients.
How did I do it? 
I got them to like me. 
Two of the doctors loved golf and we went golfing every weekened. When we golfed, I never talked about business. As our relationship grew, he started to ask me whether I was getting enough referrals from their practice.
Another doctor was a super techie guy and we used to meet for coffee and have our geek talk about how he would wire his new house with all the new tech stuff. He also loved food and I would sometimes take him to cool restaurants or food trucks. For christmas, I think I even bought him an iPad because I did actually think he was great.  
Yet another doctor loved his sports cars. He was also a blogger who appeared on TV quite alot. We talked lots about his blog and his appearances on TV. I actually got him to come in and talk to our staff about topics he loved to talk about too. For christmas, I think I got him a carwash.   
As you can see, it's all about friendship. Building long-term relationships.
Once the doctors liked us, they started to trusted us with their reputation. We were always looking for ways to make it easier for the doctors and organized multiple events between our physiotherapist and doctors where they could just have lunch together, talk about life and get to know each other.  
The key with business is always about building relationships!
8 Ways to Boost Doctor Referrals
Now let's get down to the dirty work, getting the doctor to like you. How exactly do you do it?

Follow these 8 effective strategies:

#1 Get the doctor to like you

There are plenty of people who offer the same types of services as you. Therefore, you need to stand out of the crowd and not be 'just another sales person' to that doctor. They don't care what you do until they know you.

It is far more important to be likeable and show your personality to the doctor. Make the effort to visit and meet with the doctors face to face. Start establishing a relationship with them. As I illustrated in my example above, once they trust you, they will feel comfortable referring patients to you.

The most important thing is, don't make the meeting all about you and your clinic. Make the doctor feel important, be genuine and learn about their practice, patients and goals.

#2 Always visit in the afternoon

Walking into a clinic that is busy can be intimidating. Mornings are usually busier so you're just going to add to the hussle and bussle.

Try going around lunch time or early afternoon. The doctor is usually caught up with patients by then and will have some time to breathe. Never go on Mondays either, because they are way too busy too.

#3 Find out what is important

During these face to face visits, ask the doctors the following questions:

  • "Do you use physiotherapy services now?"
  • "What's working and what's not working with your current provider?"
  • "What else is important for you?"

The goal is to find out what is important to the doctor and find a solution to their problems and concerns. Make it a win/win situation, not just a win for you.


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#4 Buy lunch and skip the shop talk

Buy the doctors and staff lunch, but DON'T talk business. It should be a nice “just because” gesture.

The overall objective is to give first, and once a relationship is established the referrals will start rolling in. Developing a relationship with the doctor is a lot like dating. It takes time and effort to get them to marry you.

Think about it. You can't ask somebody to marry you on your first day so don't rush the relationship. Spend some time on courtship. 

#5 Create memorable experiences

Aim to offer unique experiences that the doctor would enjoy (eg. golf tournaments, murder mystery dinner theatre tickets, a restaurant voucher, etc.)

People love experiences!

The front desk admin gate keeper also likes experiences, too. Offer them a free 30 minute massage at your clinic. Differentiate your approach by thinking outside the square and providing experiences that they will truly enjoy. This is a much more memorable gift than another bucket of eggnog flavored popcorn.

#6 Get your patients involved

Arrange your appointments on the same day your patient is to return to see the referring physician. Get your patients to hand deliver their progress and discharge letters to the doctor.

Make sure that any notes or reports to the doctors are typed and NOT handwritten because this is the most common complaint from doctors. Not only is poor and illegible handwriting a nuisance to decipher, its not EMR friendly.

#7 Offer a no obligation appointment

Offer a free 15 minute consultation to all of your doctor's patients. This will alleviate any money concerns that the doctor has for their patients.

Work on your pitch and if done right, you should be able to convert at least 70% of the free consultations to actual new patients.  

#8 Quality matters

Focus on quality over quantity of the number of doctors you visit. Devote energy and time to grow and maintain relationships with a selective amount of doctors. A good referring doctor should be able to give you 2 to 5 referrals per week so it is well worth the effort!


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How to Get Past the Gatekeeper in a Doctor's Office

How to Win Back Doctors Who Stop Referring


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Topics: Doctor Marketing

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