When it comes to acquiring and retaining patients, your practice may use all sorts of advertising and marketing strategies. But another great way to get and keep new patients is with help from your existing patients.
When patients are happy with their care, they tell others about their experience. And a recommendation from a friend or relative can mean a lot to someone in the market for skin care. When looking for a new healthcare provider, 51% of patients rely on referrals from family and friends as one of the most important factors in making their decision.
Considering that, developing a patient-to-patient referral program can make a great addition to your marketing and communication efforts. Plus, this can be done at a relatively low cost to your budget. A patient referral happens when a satisfied patient recommends your practice to their friends and family—either organically or with some encouragement from your practice. A program to generate more patient referrals will not only help you bring new patients in, but also maintain positive relationships with your existing patient base at the same time.
How a Patient Referral Program Works
Patient referral programs work well when your team and patients are excited to share. If your team encourages and requests referrals through direct communication and/or marketing efforts, the patient must be excited and satisfied enough with their visit that they actually take the desired action.
The easiest way is to have your team ask patients to refer their loved ones after their visit. Then you can build on that in your current marketing efforts, whether print, digital or both. Or more complex ways include implementing software or other systems in place to recruit referrals.
Referrals won’t likely happen if patients are not generally satisfied with their experience. They’ll be more likely to share negative feedback to their friend and family, in person and online. So if patient satisfaction is an issue you are working on, you may want to raise that to a level you are comfortable with prior to launching any type of referral program.
Creating a Patient Referral Program
As mentioned, before building a patient referral plan, evaluate your current patient satisfaction. If they are generally happy with the care they receive, then move forward and share your plans with your team. Document your program with specific goals and action items to achieve them. Lay out the specific stages and what deliverables will be needed. Decide if incentives will be a part of the plan (depending on your state laws, this may or may not be an option, so check beforehand). Depending on the setup of your team, designate the necessary individuals to be involved and what their expectations are.
Once your plan is in place, start your communication activities (patient communication, in-office signs and/or flyers, online marketing, emails, social media posts, etc.). For the team members involved, make sure they have a clear direction for talking about referrals with patients.
Looking for assistance with building your patient-to-patient referrals and new patient growth/retention? We’re always a phone call or click away to support your needs. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today.