• Building a Physician Referral Network for Your Physical Therapy Practice

    June 15, 2017 | Devon Piatt
  • When a new patient calls to schedule an appointment, it is typical for the receptionist to ask, “How did you hear about our clinic?” The three most common answers are:

    • I found you on Google
    • My friend/family member was a patient
    • Dr. Smith referred me

    While technology is making it easier to locate providers, and word of mouth is an excellent marketing source, the best way to guarantee new patients keep coming through your door is by building a relationship with other physicians in your geographic area. The success of a physician referral network is in the fact that a patient trusts their primary care physician or surgeon, and thus will trust their recommendation.

    Where to Start

    Research, research, research.

    You want to make sure you can market your services to a physician that does not have a direct relationship with other therapy providers. For example, some orthopedic institutes have their own therapy clinics on site, so it is not likely those physicians will refer to your clinic rather than keeping the patient onsite. It is also important to consider what a physician specializes in. For example, your time will be better spent building a relationship with an OB-GYN if you specialize in pelvic floor rehab.

    Channel Your Inner Salesman

    Hopefully you have thought through what makes your clinic or offering unique, and are clear on your target audience. Now you are ready to share the good news with others.

    Market Yourself as a Unique Provider

    When you secure an appointment with a physician or group of physicians, treat it as if you are an applicant looking to be hired. Emphasize what makes your clinic preferable to other clinics in the area. Do you have a niche? Do you specialize more in pediatric or geriatric cases? Is there a specific area of the body you specialize in (pelvic floor, knee conditions, shoulder conditions)? Be sure to bring copies of your achievements, case studies if available, and plenty of business cards.

    It may also help to leave prescription pads with your clinic advertised at the top. This will make referring to your clinic much easier for the physician.

    Don’t Forget About the Rest of the Staff

    Taking time to talk with receptionists, medical assistants, and other office staff can benefit you as well. Staff can advocate for you to the physicians, as well as patients. If they see a patient leaving the office with a referral to your clinic, the receptionist may tell them “I really like that therapist, he/she seems like a very nice and knowledgeable person.”

    Maintain What You Have Built

    Be sure to keep the physician updated on how their patient is progressing during treatment. Send progress notes. Keep in touch frequently. Set up a time to bring in lunch to the office so you can talk with the physicians you know, and meet new physicians who recently joined the practice. A long-lasting and robust physician referral network requires that you build and maintain relationships. Always remember that keeping up regular communication will ensure that you will be viewed as a trusted and valuable resource.