Building and Strengthening Relationships with Physicians
While rehab therapists continue to make gains in autonomy and direct access, we cannot forget about referrals. Often, referrals serve as the lifeblood of therapy practices, and the best way to ensure referrals—besides providing exceptional care—is to maintain strong relationships with physicians. With that in mind, here are five tips for improving the therapist-physician relationship to garner more referrals.
1.) Simplify the referral process. It’ll save them time and earn you respect. Here are some tips:
- Make sure your contact information (on your website, business cards, and social media accounts) is current. This may seem obvious, but trust us, it’s crucial.
- If you have a website, consider creating a user-friendly patient referral form for physicians to access, fill out, and submit to your practice. Include this form’s page URL on your business cards and marketing materials. Google Docs can assist you with form-making.
- You can also add a dedicated referral phone line for physicians. Create a free account with Google Voice and record a custom greeting. The beauty of Google Voice? It will transcribe your voicemail to text, so your front office staff can take referral information right from your email and place it into your documentation software.
2.) Make appearances. Take one day every three to six months to visit a handful of the largest physician groups near your clinic. Stop in and introduce yourself—a friendly smile (and perhaps some goodies) go a long way. You never know; they may have a patient who needs therapy that day, and you want to be top of mind.
3.) Follow up. Make sure you touch base with the physicians who do refer to you frequently. Whether it’s an email, phone call, or business lunch, make an effort talk to your referring physicians. See how they’re doing, how their practice is doing. As a rehab therapist, you’re a great listener and you genuinely care. Demonstrate this.
4.) Say “thank you.” This simple but often forgotten act is one of the best ways to ensure your referrers feel appreciated. Here are some quick and easy ways to express your gratitude:
- Create clinic-branded thank you cards, and hand write your thank-yous.
- Schedule an hour per month to make “thank you” calls.
- Make referrals to those who refer to you.
5.) Embrace EMR. They not only allow you to electronically (and speedily!) interact with physicians, but also enable you to brand your notes with your clinic’s logo. Your notes will appear neat, clean, and legible, while also proudly displaying your brand for the world—specifically your referrers—to see (and remember).
Some EMRs also feature a referral report. When entering patients, you can denote whether they were referred by a physician and if so, who. With the referral report, you can then easily view how many referrals you're receiving from each physician entered into the system. It's a convenient way to determine who needs more “appearances” or “follow-up” and who needs a big "thank you.”
Have you tried any of these tips? Do you have other advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below.