Getting a steady stream of referrals from referring physicians is an integral part of sustaining a successful radiology practice or diagnostic imaging center. A strong referring physician strategy can help your practice get more patients and increase revenue. However, building a successful referring physician strategy is only possible with the right tools and approach.
This article will explore the process of creating and implementing a successful referring physician strategy. We’ll also explore how AbbaDox’s referring physician CRM and portal can help you get more referrals and appointments in 2023 for a successful year ahead.
What is a Referring Physician?
The referring physician or ordering physician is typically a primary care doctor responsible for evaluating a patient’s condition, determining the need for specialized care, and providing a referral to the proper specialist. By providing referrals to imaging centers, referring physicians can ensure that patients receive the needed imaging services for accurate diagnoses and treatment plans.
Referring physicians are essential to the healthcare system, as they link primary care physicians and specialists.They are also critical to radiology practices as they are the number one determinant of appointment volumes at practices. Strong referring physician relationships translate to healthy and steady appointment volume for imaging centers.
Why is a Referring Physician Strategy Important?
A strong referring physician strategy is essential for any radiology practice. Referring physicians are vital to acquiring new patients and increasing appointment volume. A successful referring physician strategy should focus on building relationships with referring physicians and making it easy for them to refer patients to your practice.
Additionally, the referring physician, patient, and practice all benefit in numerous ways from a referring physician strategy, including the following:
- Patients can ensure that they are getting the best care possible
- Referring physicians can spend more time caring for their patients and laying out treatment plans than following up on results
- Practices will have a steady and more predictable stream of patient appointments for better planning and servicing
The Key Components of a Referring Physician Strategy
A successful referring physician strategy requires a few cornerstone components. Below is an overview of the primary components to consider when developing your referring physician strategy.
Before you can even begin your marketing roadmap, you must first understand where you’re headed. Start by setting goals for your outreach effort. Define specific parameters such as the number of new providers you’d like to reach and the target volume of new versus recurring referrals you’d like to secure.
Tracking and monitoring referrals is a vital component of any referral strategy. How can you evaluate success if you’re not evaluating your efforts? You’ll want to use a radiology-specific tracking and relationship management tool that can give you real-time analytics. Keeping tabs on outreach strategies, marketing expenses, and which referring providers are scheduling the most appointments can provide valuable insights to maximize practice profitability.
When it comes to marketing your practice to referring providers, there are a few different approaches. You can send out print mailers, create a provider-specific website with detailed information about your services, attend trade shows and events, or use digital marketing strategies like social media and email campaigns to build awareness and reach potential referral sources.
Developing and maintaining strong, open communication between your practice and referring providers is essential. Make sure that you have a strategic process and reliable system in place to not only deliver results, but keep referring physicians updated on changes in your practice, enhancements to your referring or patient experiences, and any new services or technology you may be offering.
All the marketing in the world won’t matter if you’re not building true relationships with referring providers. Here are a few best practices:
- Create a prospecting map, and ensure you introduce yourself and your practice to referring physicians in your area. Make sure they know who you are and what services you provide.
- Get to know potential referring physicians and their pain points or hesitations in the referral process. Partner with a software provider that has the solutions to overcome those objections.
- Show your appreciation for the referrals that referring physicians give your practice through thank-you notes, gift cards, or other small tokens of appreciation.
- Keep in touch with referring physicians regularly. Use personalized touches in emails, phone calls, and in-person visits.
- Make it easy for referring physicians to refer patients to you. Consider offering online scheduling, a referral portal, and other advanced radiology workflow solutions that will streamline the referral process.
Planning a Referring Physician Marketing Strategy
A successful referring physician marketing strategy will build a strong relationship between referring providers and your practice, ultimately leading to more appointments across your imaging centers. It’s crucial to invest in proper planning and implementation of a referring physician marketing strategy to ensure the long-term health of your practice. Your action plan for a referring physician marketing strategy should prioritize some of the following best practices:
- Showcase your competitive edge. There are many choices for physician referrals, and your practice needs to communicate why yours is best-suited for their patients.
- Prioritize the patient experience. If referring providers know their patients will be taken care of at your practice, they’ll keep the referrals flowing.
- Stay in touch. Continuously communicate with physicians in a personalized way.
- Track, measure, and adjust. Track trends in referral patterns so you can continue to evolve your strategy in the right places.
Steps for Creating and Implementing a Successful Referring Physician Strategy with a Radiology-Centric CRM
Now that you know the key components and what to prioritize in a successful referring physician strategy, let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to create and implement one.
Step 1: Analyze Your Referral Sources
To better understand the referring physician landscape, you must first look at the data. That’s why the first step to creating a successful referring physician strategy is to analyze your referral sources. Understand who is (and isn’t) referring patients to your practice and why.
Review the number of referrals you receive from each referring physician, what if any patterns exist in patient flow, and which exams are most requested when they refer to your organization. This step will help you understand which referring physicians are most valuable to your practice and which need extra attention.
Step 2: Develop and Test a Plan for Engagement
Once you have identified a targeted list of referring physicians, the next step is to develop an engagement plan. Set goals around strengthening relationships with your referring providers and increasing referral volume.
You can create value for referring physicians by offering educational webinars or lunch and learns. Additionally, keep in touch with your referring providers through email or social media campaigns. Always keep them updated on practice enhancements, new services, and new technology.
Step 3: Automate Your Referral Process
The next step in creating a successful referring physician strategy is ensure top-notch service once those referrals arrive. Simplifying and automating the referral process is crucial to a better experience for referring physicians and patients.
AbbaDox helps practices automate and optimize critical workflows like patient referral and intake, appointment scheduling, and final results delivery. With all digital workflows, your practice can receive, sort, or return documents with specific notes or requests without ever needing to produce, print, or return faxes manually. This automation will ensure that your referral process runs smoothly and allows you to focus less on paperwork and more on patient care.
Step 4: Measure Your Results
Finally, the last step in creating and implementing a successful referring physician strategy is to measure your results. Tracking and measuring your results with a CRM tool gives you a simple way to evaluate the ROI from your current referral marketing efforts.
With a CRM tailored to radiology practices, you’ll have a myriad of ways to track the success of your referring physician strategies.The combination of real-time analytics, forecasting, and trend reports empower your practice and marketers to be highly productive and effective.
What to Do When You Get the Referral
An effective physician referral strategy is about so much more than just increasing appointment volume – it’s about creating sustainable, long-term growth. The key to recurring referrals is ensuring the seamlessness of the referral process and the patient experience.
When you get a physician referral, the first step is to evaluate the referral to ensure it’s complete and accurate and if the referring physician has indicated their preference for any special imaging techniques. Any incomplete orders should be immediately rejected (something you can automate with AbbaDox’s CareFlow RIS) and digitally sent back.
Once the appointment is scheduled, you’ll want the patient to have the best experience possible with your practice. Things like short wait times, billing transparency, and easily accessible results are essential for the referring physician to continue sending patients your way.
To ensure that the patient experience is seamless, you’ll want to provide as much information as possible about what the patient should expect from the appointment. With automated texts and robo calls, your practice can easily inform the patient about what imaging exam will be performed, the expected length of the appointment, and any preparation the patient should do before the appointment without any additional administrative efforts.
Always provide the referring physician with regular updates regarding the patient’s appointment to help the referring physician feel comfortable that the patient is receiving the best care possible.
Improving Experiences and Increasing Referrals Through A Referring Physician Portal
Your referring physician strategy will require the powerful combination of a radiology-centric CRM and a comprehensive referring physician portal to ensure that you can build successful, lasting relationships with referring physicians.
A physician portal is essential to streamlining communication and strengthening relationships with referring physicians. The best portal streamlines the patient referral and intake process, allows for self-scheduling, and supports timely results distribution for your completed exams. The better the experience, the better your reputation will be amongst ordering physicians.
The Best Features of a Referring Physician Portal
A high-quality physician portal can provide access to:
- Patient communication
- Upcoming exam status
- Appointment scheduling
- Exam results and diagnostic images
- Incidental findings
- Follow-ups for critical findings
- Recommendations for follow-up exams
- Exam history
However, not all physician portals are built the same, and without the right features, patients might get lost in the process. That’s why your practice needs a referring physician portal like AbbaDox.
Features to Streamline Communication and Increase Orders
Seamless communication between you, the patient, and the referring physician is necessary for smooth and successful care coordination. A robust portal from AbbaDox is the first step to streamlining communication and boosting your reputation, potentially leading to more referrals. The best physician portal should make it easy to do the following:
- Real-time appointment tracking by status to view imaging appointment statuses for referred patients
- Rule-based self-scheduling options that allow referrers to make appointments themselves or submit requests based on your organization’s criteria
- Immediate result and image sharing that automatically drops final results and images onto the ordering physician’s computer
- Integrated clinical decision support to help your organization keep up with the appropriate use criteria (AUC) requirements
- Simple document attachment, including digitally attaching images, faxes, eForms, insurance cards, and identification
- Shared patient chart access, allowing referring physicians to track a patient’s health, vitals, visits, and prescriptions
- Auto-populated patient intake forms to fill out patient data for the referrer
- Immediate insurance verification to guarantee patient coverage before the visit
The AbbaDox Difference
AbbaDox radiology workflow solutions go beyond the box to allow your organization the flexibility needed to be the go-to imaging center in your market. When you implement a strategic referring physician strategy supported by the AbbaDox referring physician CRM and referring physician portal, you’ll strengthen referring physician relationships, improve practice operations, enhance the patient experience, and ultimately increase appointment volume.
Are you ready to get started? Request a demo below and our experts will help you build a successful referring physician strategy and overall practice.