Why Patient Referral Programs Work & How To Get Started 

Referrals aren’t a new concept in business; in the medical field, they’re still widely used to drive patient traffic. Getting a patient from your practice to refer their friends and family is an excellent way to increase your practice leads. Also, they help maintain an active relationship with your current patients and gain new ones. Think of it as a win-win. At first, some chiropractors and doctors needed to be convinced these programs were worth their time. They didn’t seem to fit in with the doctor’s busy schedule or marketing plan. But referrals have grown in popularity over the years, and now you’ll find them almost everywhere – from corporations to medical practices to restaurants. 

But what is a Patient Referral Program? 

A patient referral program is a marketing system that healthcare providers use to attract new patients. How they function can vary depending on state laws, but in most cases, it’s as simple as telling patients that you welcome new patients and encouraging them to recommend you to family and friends. This approach can be followed by incentives like gift cards, discounts, etc., when the referral is converted into a new patient. 

How do I implement a Patient Referral Program?

When it comes to non-primary health care, nothing is more cost-effective than a patient referral program. Compared to other marketing strategies, there is virtually no time or money wasted on people not interested in your services. And unlike social media, referrals are essentially one-on-one sales calls—a current patient tells a prospective patient about the benefits of visiting their provider. 

It’s very low risk, but it needs to be implemented correctly to function. You can get started with these easy steps: 

Step 1: Investigate if there are any state laws or provider ethics that wouldn’t allow you to offer gift cards or other incentives to patients. In general, discounts on services are a safe approach. 

Step 2: Create the program. How would you request referrals? Would you do it at the end of the appointment, or will your front desk handle it? Will you hand out brochures or cards? Will you send an email to follow up on the referral? What would be the incentive? 

Step 3: Treat your patient referral program as essential, and make sure everyone in your office knows its importance. Put a poster or any signage near your front desk or waiting room highlighting the fact that you accept referrals, and let patients know that you will be giving them an incentive when they send a referral. 

That said, it’s easy to implement and doesn’t require a lot of additional resources to do so. A patient referral program can add years to the life of your practice—all for the price of printing business cards and a little office diligence. 

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