Medical Referrals & Building Your Patient Base
As any dental specialist knows any good practice can fail or thrive by the volume of referrals they receive. When you have a niche market you have to work a little harder to gain a following and dentistry is no exception. General dentists don’t experience this same problem and in general mass marketing works well for them and can help them acquire a decent patient base fairly quickly. So what happens when you add a niche service to your general dentistry practice? While you can pull from your existing patient pool you may find you don’t have the right patient base for your new services or that your existing patients don’t want to be “marketed” to.
Adding niche services is a great way to boost your revenue in your office as well as expand your field of practice. If you are beginning to offer services such as TMJ orthotics, Botox for TMJ and migraines or sleep apnea appliances you would benefit from forming referral relationships with medical providers in your area. Primary care providers are the front line for patients experiencing new or developing health conditions and routinely refer out to specialists. Many primary care providers are not educated on all of the services dental providers can offer that support treatment for medical conditions.
When seeking referrals from medical providers be prepared to encounter some resistance – especially in established medical practices or from established providers. They may not be as well-versed on newer treatments that you can offer. Lunch and learns are a great way to educate medical practices and present your services in a professional way. It also shows your commitment to invest in this new branch of your practice. Personally visit the offices you’d like referrals from, take a nice gift for the staff as well as some of your literature and an invitation for a lunch and learn. Try to meet with the doctor while you are there and personally give him or her your contact info. Schedule a time for the lunch, order or bring an appropriate catered meal (ask about food allergies in advance – make sure there are options for every team member) and present your new services at this time. Discuss HOW these services can benefit the office’s patients medically, limit discussion of finances or cost. Discuss referral procedures – make this as simple as possible. Providing referral pads is an excellent way to make this as easy on the referring provider’s office as possible. Make sure to leave enough time at the end of the lunch for questions and to mingle with the provider’s staff and personally introduce yourself. Make sure you, your assistant and your office manager or front desk admin all attend if at all possible.
Reaching out and forming relationships with like-minded providers can catapult your practice to the next level of growth in your new endeavor. Never underestimate the power of good referrals and excellent reviews.