Physician Marketing: Expert Tips for Boosting Referrals

Physician marketing is essential in today’s increasingly competitive landscape. There are many ways to bring new patients through your door, but when they come from a physician referral, they are that much more ready and willing to take the critical next step in their hearing healthcare journey. That’s because their provider—the person they trust with their health—has recommended that they go to you for treatment.

So, it makes sense why the goal becomes to not only attract more patients but also build and maintain lasting relationships with physicians. How do you get that relationship off the ground? The answer is actually quite simple—it’s all about messaging, visibility, and consistency.

Messaging

Becoming a trusted resource to your local physicians is the first step in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. Of course, finding the right message can be overwhelming because there’s a lot to say. New studies are being released all the time linking untreated hearing loss to copious other social, psychological, cognitive, and physical health issues. Fortunately, you can find a variety of physician marketing collateral on Consult MarketSource, all of which can be customized with your practice logo and information.

So how do you know exactly what information and data will be most helpful? You have to ask questions! Dig deep. Find out what resonates most with each physician, then bring resources to them for that particular area of interest. Share insights every time you visit the practice and make it a golden rule that whenever you give information, you always try to get information in return. This is how you continue to build a rapport, show value, and become a hearing health expert in their eyes.

Visibility

Local physicians need to see you out there serving the community and completing the circle of care for their patients. They don’t know what they don’t know—you must get in front of them so that they know you exist, and you can share your knowledge! Yes, this can be challenging. Doctors certainly don’t have a lot of spare time to dedicate to you—and that’s even if you’re able to visit their office right now with COVID-19-related safety protocols in effect. The physician marketing landscape has changed a lot since the spring of 2020—but not necessarily for the worst.

While there are areas of the country where community events are still being held and physician offices will allow visitors without appointments, the rise of virtual meetings and community events has actually increased your chances of getting face-time with decision-makers. Physicians who used to say they didn’t have time to meet with you may now be willing to book a ten-minute virtual meeting because of the convenience. Through our exclusive partnership with Vidscrip, Consult is also working on creating a video solution for physician marketing. The future feature would allow doctors to text you when they have a free minute then allow you to reply with a short video explaining how you can work with them to improve their patients’ overall wellness.

Consistency

Finally, consistency is key. The most common mistake to avoid is visiting every single doctor in your area once. Sure, you’ll see everyone, but no one will remember you. Be strategic, especially since your time in the field/office is limited. Find the top practices you want to capture referrals from and visit/call on them weekly. Develop a secondary list of practices and see/call on them twice a month. If you have remaining time, develop a third list of practices you’d like to visit and learn more about them. The best-case scenario is you run into a gold mine and need to shift priorities! Whatever you do, just make sure not to overextend yourself—have a feasible target list, and prioritize your visits accordingly.

 
Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet for physician marketing. Achieving your desired type of referral flow requires a combination of different approaches and tactics. Ask any practice that does this type of marketing successfully and they’ll tell you there is a myriad of strategies they execute to receive the high volume of referrals that they do. And, they would agree that messaging, visibility, and consistency are necessary to this success.

So, make sure you have a strong, compelling elevator pitch, present useful information, offer insights and ask questions, create a physician list that you can realistically work through, and visit/call on those offices regularly. If you do this, you’ll be well on your way to becoming THE local expert on hearing health.

If you need help launching, expanding, or adjusting your physician marketing program, Consult is here to help. Talk to your Account Manager or contact us today!

About the Author

Kate Thomas is an Assistant Account Manager and has been with Consult YHN since 2009. Before moving into her current role in 2016, she worked in the company’s Recruiting Department. Kate supports the East division and their accounts through front office and physician marketing trainings, community outreach support, and anything else needed to help practice owners achieve their professional goals. When not working, Kate enjoys gardening, yoga, meditation, running, hiking, cooking, and anything else that allows her to use her creative mind. Whatever she’s doing, it almost always involves her husband and three beautiful children.

Physician Marketing: The Why & How

In order for your practice to thrive in 2019, it’s essential that you have a well-rounded, multi-channel marketing plan. This plan should include database outreach to ensure your patients continue to be your patients, traditional media like direct mail, digital marketing which may include PPC, and referral programs—both for patients and your community physicians. If you don’t have an active physician referral program, you may be wondering, “Why are physician referrals so important?”

Being a primary physician’s top-of-mind local hearing healthcare partner strengthens the patient relationship with both providers. Patients trust their primary care physician (PCP) with their whole-body health and, in turn, will trust you as an “extension” of their primary care team.

Here’s how to implement and execute a successful physician marketing program:

  1. Devise a target provider list – You won’t be able to visit everyone, and you won’t be remembered by everyone that you do see. So, create a hierarchy of relationships. Identify who your “A-lister” and “B-lister” PCPs are (i.e. the most reliable referring physicians that you already have relationships with). This is one example of why proper tracking in your practice management system is so important. You’ll also want to create a third tier that includes physicians who may have referred patients to you in the past and therefore, you may want to build better relationships with those providers.
  1. Target your message – Consider this startling fact: 95 percent of physicians understand that hearing loss negatively affects older adults, but studies show only 14 percent of physicians screen for hearing loss. Most PCPs are also busy seeing patients, day-in-and-day-out, especially as 10,000 baby boomers retire each day. So, when you first reach out to physicians, your message should be direct, concise, and center around the shared quality of care you both provide.
  1. Do your research – Find out who is responsible for referrals and what their internal process is. Does the physician make referrals on a script pad or does he/she give a business card to patients? Does a referral coordinator set up appointments for patients or does the practice rely on its patients to call?
  1. Determine what collateral you may need – Does the PCP you’re visiting need convincing health data to back up how important hearing health is, or does he/she want collateral to give to patients about how hearing is connected to their overall well-being? Does the referral coordinator use fax forms or does the doctor prefer to hand out business cards? Before each visit, make sure you’re well-stocked with the appropriate collateral for that PCP, including up-to-date health information for both the providers as well as the patients. This effort shows your commitment to the partnership. Consult’s MarketSource has a large selection of expertly-designed patient and physician marketing collateral which can be personalized for your practice.
  1. Develop the relationship – Remember, this isn’t a sprint. A truly successful physician referral program takes time to build and nurture; you don’t help anyone by pestering busy PCPs for five weeks and then disappearing. By creating an outreach calendar and sticking with the plan for months (then years!), you’ll build a partnership based on trust and a commitment to patient care.

Overwhelmed by the thought of putting a physician referral program in place? Consult YHN’s experienced marketing professionals are here to help!

Talk to your Account Manager or email our Marketing Department for more information: marketing@consultyhn.com

About the Author

Rachel Atar joined Consult YHN in 2015 as Marketing Account Executive. With experience in multiple industries, Rachel has consistently helped small businesses navigate marketing for their end consumers. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was Taylored Home Health Care’s Marketing Manager.