5 Ways to Get More Physician Referrals

5 Ways to Get More Physician Referrals

One of the best ways to build your physical therapy practice is through physician referrals. That means you need to create solid relationships with physicians. The question is, how can you do that without coming off like you're giving a sales pitch?

It's easy! Here are five ideas to help get you going.

Volunteer with their favorite charities

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. You get introduced in a neutral setting, you have a built-in topic to discuss, and you get a chance to form a strong bond doing something that really helps your community.

To make this approach effective for your physical therapy practice, though, you need to know where the physicians you wish to meet like to volunteer.

Start by going online. You can often find out people's favorite charities from their websites or social media pages. If the doctor you are hoping to connect with works at a hospital, you may find the hospital website has a page devoted to each doctor's bio. Sometimes, just a quick call to the front desk staff will let you know which non-profits their office supports.

Remember, the goal is not to make a sales pitch at a volunteer event. You are there to volunteer, that needs to take precedence. However, you can easily initiate a conversation introducing yourself. From there, ask them how long they've volunteered with the group and why they got involved in it. That's all you need to get started. Over time and as your relationship develops, you can ask to meet and talk about how you might be able to work together.

Give a talk targeted to their unique needs

Different types of physicians have different needs. Decide which ones are the best match for your areas of expertise and craft a talk designed to address their concerns. Then contact their office and see if you can speak to their group at their next staff meeting.

The talk should be brief: ask them how much time you'll have and should focus on how physical therapy can help their patients. For example, if you are talking to urologists and gynecologists, emphasize how physical therapy can assist with urinary incontinence. If you are talking with gerontologists, emphasize how physical therapy can help older people improve their balance and prevent falls. Illustrate your talk with success stories from your client base and be careful not to give a sales pitch. Focus on content, not self-promotion.

Publish an article in the hospital newsletter

If giving a talk isn't an option, try writing an article. Hospitals and large practices usually have a staff newsletter and they will often welcome an insightful article that is useful to their physicians. As with the talk, keep the focus on how physical therapy can address specific needs. Cite client examples to show the different ways physical therapy can be of help, particularly with regard to the physicians' specialties. In the end, include a bio giving your specialty areas and contact information.

Write a blog post and send them a copy

When you need a way to reach out to a physician, but they don't have a newsletter or can't attend your talk, another approach is to write a blog post and send it to them. Just as with the talks, you need to focus on how physical therapy is effective in treating specific issues, rather than on self-promotion. The success stories you cite should be from the specialty area of the physician to whom you are going to send the post.

Once you've uploaded the post, print it out and snail mail it to the physician you wish to meet. Include a brief handwritten note saying you thought this might be of interest to them.

While a printed blog post doesn't have the added credibility of having been published in a newsletter, it still feels more solid and less like a sales pitch than sending a letter listing your areas of expertise. Best of all, you control the content and the publishing, so even if you can't arrange to give a talk or get in a hospital newsletter, this approach will still work for you.

Ask for referrals

Contact the physicians with whom you already have a strong relationship and ask them if they know of other physicians you can get in touch with about your services. Ask them if you can use their name and say you've worked with them on several patients. If your relationship is positive, they will generally be glad to refer you, especially if you make it easy for them by suggesting a few specialties that would be a particularly good fit.

Another option is to look in your client database for clients that found you on their own or through another health practitioner (perhaps a chiropractor or a nurse, for example). Ask them if you can contact their physician and say you've worked together. A client who has had a positive experience with you will usually be very happy to help refer you.

One thing to remember:

Each of these five ideas will help you initiate a relationship with a new physician, but none of them will work if you don't do proper follow up. Send a handwritten thank you note to the people who invite you to speak or write. Collect business cards whenever giving a live event and personally follow up with each physician to thank them for attending.

That's the key to building solid relationships with physicians: connect and focus on their needs and keep in touch. That's how you get more referrals.

About the Author: Jennifer Michelle

Jennifer Michelle teaches health and fitness professionals how to build thriving businesses without burning themselves out. Her consulting uses a connection-based approach to marketing, which is also at the heart of her workbooks, Banish Burnout and Build a Thriving Business. You can see more of our continuing education courses authored by Jennifer Michelle here.

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