Phase 1: Maximize Appointment Volumes and Relationships with Referring Physicians
Though the modern patient journey at diagnostic imaging centers is cyclical, your cycle will never gain momentum without a strategic approach to that crucial first stage – physician referrals.
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The concept is simple.
Your radiology practice needs to maximize appointment volumes, and with virtually every office requiring a referral for imaging services, imaging centers have a unique opportunity to expand capacity and bring in a constant stream of patients through effective physician engagement.
But the execution is easier said than done with operating expenses and labor shortages on the rise.
So, how can your practice successfully maximize appointment volumes from your referring physicians?
The Challenges with Physician Referrals
If you’re unsure of the answer to the above question, you’re not alone. When it comes to referrals, there are two key challenges facing practice managers today.
The Competitive Landscape for Diagnostic Imaging Centers
Patients have more autonomy than ever before, and though there are many benefits like improved quality of care, the ripple effect can pose a major challenge for diagnostic imaging centers. Beyond the increased competition among existing players in the market, radiology practices are also dealing with incoming competition from new imaging options, which experts project will continue to rise through at least 2026.
And with referrals on the decline for all appointment types, practice managers and leadership have no choice but to get creative with their referring physician engagement strategy if they want to scale their appointment volumes.
Converting Referrals to Appointment Bookings
Once you do get the referral, however, it’s not always smooth sailing to the front desk. In fact, research shows that 20 percent of patients don’t follow up at all on their doctor’s referrals. And of those that do attempt scheduling, just over 34% actually resulted in a completed appointment.
How to Increase Your Physician Referrals and Appointment Volumes
To be successful, diagnostic imaging centers must implement the following strategies to increase the volume of physician referrals and the percentage of completed appointments once those referrals come in.
Create a Referring Physician Strategy
Practices must prioritize marketing and engaging local referring physicians to increase community awareness, build strategic relationships, and thus, increase appointment volume in a consistent and sustainable way. A robust customer relationship management tool (CRM) tailored specifically for physician referrals to radiology practices will allow your center to easily uncover trends across referring physicians with real-time analytics. Track, categorize, and evaluate the ROI from your referral marketing efforts to ensure you’re reaching the right referring physicians at the right time in the referral process.
Streamline the Referring Physician Process
But just because you have a solid outreach strategy, doesn’t mean you’ll get that steady influx of referral volumes. If the physician has challenges with the referral process itself, they are unlikely to continue sending patients to your center. By optimizing and streamlining your referring physician workflows, you must make it simple for them to refer patients to you. A comprehensive referring physician portal and image/results sharing solution allow the referring physician to seamlessly register a patient, check appointment statuses, order an exam, review follow-up requirements, and assess final results quickly and efficiently.
Make Scheduling Easy
At the end of the day, both providers and patients want high-quality service and convenience. With patient self-scheduling or provider scheduling options, patients are much more likely to complete the referral. Studies show that patients who leave their physician’s office with an appointment already scheduled, have a much higher likelihood of actually attending the appointment.
Want to learn more about optimizing the patient journey from start to finish? Stay tuned for our upcoming webinar led by a panel of industry experts!
Ready to increase physician referrals at your imaging center? Talk to one of our specialists about how to grow appointment volumes at your practice.