A friend recently had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in two places. When they wheeled him out of the hospital, he practically jumped out of his wheelchair because he was feeling so good. At the time, he was on pain medication. However, he took no further drugs after that. He was up and walking immediately – the first week on crutches.
Part of his quick recovery may have been the fact that he was physically active. In fact, he had injured his knee hiking. Regardless, everyone he knew (and some he didn’t) who mentioned they were going to have knee or shoulder or some sports-related surgery, he referred them to his doctor.
If you’re like most physicians, you probably believe that all your patients are happy with the service they receive. But how do you know? Have you asked them? It’s one of the best ways to know how to increase patient satisfaction and referrals.
Involve Your Staff in the Referring Process
Your staff is your first line of contact with patients. They absolutely need to be involved in any patient referral process. Educate them on the importance of referrals, help them understand how they can assist with the process, and gather feedback from them on how the system works.
Steps they can take include:
• Listen to the patient’s concerns and questions
• Promptly address any issues patients may have
• Ask patients if there is anything else they need
• Thank patients for coming in
Your staff should wrap up their interactions with words such as, “We’re glad you’re doing better. We hope you will tell your friends and family about our great service.”
Use Questionnaires to Assess Service
Word-of-mouth is one of the best sources of referrals. However, if you’re patients aren’t satisfied, the word on the street might not be what you hope for.
To find out what your patients think of you, your staff, the service you provide, the accommodations, and more, create a questionnaire for patients to complete. Send it to them by email after their service, so they have time to reflect, can fill it out in a relaxed setting, and are more likely to answer honestly. Let the patient know you are interested in making their experience the best it can be, and that their answers will help you do this.
Don’t forget to ask patients if, based on service, they would ever refer someone to your practice.
Identify Referring Patients and Thank Them
Finally, when a new patient arrives, don’t forget to find out who referred them. Tracking this information allows you to recognize and thank the referring individual properly.
In the same way that employees like to be appreciated for their efforts, patients like to be acknowledged for referring friends and family. Whether you send a handwritten note or have a patient appreciation day, be sure to let them know you appreciate their trust in you and your staff.
Getting referrals from colleagues is great for business. However, knowing how to increase patients is also about developing relationships and getting referrals from patients themselves.
At ReferralMD, we provide you with the tools to help make your practice one that patients feel good about visiting. Our network allows you to exchange patient referrals faster, more accurately, and more securely, than with paper triplicate forms or faxes, making it easier on you and your patients.
Leave us a comment about your experience
Let us know: what is the one thing that you and your staff do to make your patients return time after time?