Podcast: Boost Your Practice Revenue by Increasing Your Patient Referrals

Patient referrals are vital to practice growth! Boost your revenue by referring more patients. To learn more, listen to the podcast or read a transcript of the audio.

Hi everyone, welcome back to the Sikka Sofware podcast. Today we are going to talk about how to boost practice revenue by increasing patient referrals. We will have a look at different types of referral sources and discuss which source gives you more visitors in quantity and which source gives you more patients in loyalty. And how to further increase referrals for different sources.

Patients come to your practice from many different referral sources: there are online sources, offline sources, and personal sources. Online sources may include search engine, healthcare information websites, social media, practice website, e-mail, etc. Offline sources include magazines, newspapers, yellow pages, and so on. Personal sources may include doctors, other patients, family, friends, colleagues, etc. We suggest you use Sikka Practice Optimizer’s Patient Referral Source module to start tracking your new patients sources. It can help you understand where your patients come from and which channel contributes the most to total production. While practices may differ in mapping their patient referral sources, there are some key trends and statistics that apply to all practices.

First and foremost, you cannot afford to ignore online sources in a such digital era. According to Pew Research, 59% of U.S. adults have looked online for specific health information. Most of them (above 70%) use search engines and browse brand websites during their research. This means, in order to increase your online referral you should definitely have a website and do your best to make it highly ranked on search engines (that’s what we call SEO or Search Engine Optimization).

Your website ranking can be decided by many factors, but overall you should remember the following rules: No.1, develop good-quality content that’s relevant and makes sense. Search engines like Google keep coming up with new policies to diminish low-quality sites full of spammy or poor messages. For example, if your keyword is “dental,” you won’t be ranked highly by simply repeating “dental” for the whole page though it is keyword heavy. In fact, you will be less highly ranked.

Rule No.2, give proper titles and description for each page. When search engines scan your website, your website is actually talking to them with titles and descriptions. It is like a resume’s name and career summary. So make sure the titles and meta descriptions are keywords and phrases mixed, which helps search engines understand what your business does quickly.

Rule No.3, add alt text to your images. Search engines read your images too, and this is a fact many people neglect. They look for alt text (a concise written description) to understand your images. So don’t leave them empty. Describe them with your practice name and keywords, which will make the content even more relevant. Most of the search engines provide Adwords service, which means you can bid on certain keywords in order for their clickable ads to appear in a search result for the traffic boosting purpose. According to Geonetric, 81% of people click on a sponsored link when looking for health information. Based on your business targets, you may want to try cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) to increase your brand awareness, which is to buy 1,000 impressions for however much your advertising vendor charges. Or cost per clicks (CPC) to drive more conversions, which allows your advertising vendor to charge you only when a visitor clicks on your campaign.  These are the two of the most commonly adopted methods with search engines to increase your online referrals.

While online sources may bring you more new patients, personal referrals offer a more solid connection between doctors and patients. A patient referred by family or friends is more likely to become a loyal customer to your practice. Then how do you increase personal referrals? Here are some tips for you: First, provide enough educational material for your existing patients so that they can share it with family and friends, and it would be even better if a staff member can be assigned to do this in person. The opportunity to approach them could be when they are waiting for an appointment in the waiting room, or when they check out. Second, consider holding an event for your existing patients. It could be a patient appreciation party, a seminar, or an open house day. Offer food and drinks, and make it fun with prizes and discount promotion announcements. Encourage them to refer more customers and you may get dozens of new patient referrals by the end of the event.

Doctor referrals are another typical source for personal referrals. Sometimes, your referral source forgets to give you the contact information of a patient, and the patient may forget to make the appointment with you. This may cause you to lose new patients. Instead, if you already have some doctor referral sources, do remember to provide them a form where they can fill out and return to you with the information of the patient, and the reason for the referral. Every time you receive referrals from doctors who are not on the list, call them and personally thank them for the referral. Active networking will make your practice more successful.

Thanks for tuning into the Sikka Software podcast, where we give you tips and strategies to improve your practice’s performance. Until next time.

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