Referrals are the best way to grow your practice and they can come from many sources.

Who Should You Ask for Your Referrals

Encouraging others to refer your practice to others is a key aspect of practice growth. However, they are easily overlooked or avoided. Many professionals feel “I can’t do that” or I don’t know how to ethically approach someone to ask for referrals. Yet, overcoming this discomfort shows a measurable increase in patient numbers.

Five sources of referrals include:

  • Patients
  • Vendors
  • Hospitals
  • Professionals in other specialties
  • Professionals in the same specialty but located elsewhere

According to Forester Research, consumers trust word of mouth from friends and family more than any other form of “advertising”.  The same holds true and more so for medical practices.  Why then do so few practices focus on encouraging patients to be advocates?

In the Web 2.0 world, the old saying, “It’s who you know!” is driving business and marketing.  That makes current clients terrific resources for cultivating potential new patients.

Referrals are the Backbone

Referrals can boost the clientele of any medical practice.  Whether you’re a one-person operation or a biz with many employees, encouraging your current clients and employees for referrals (and possibly providing incentives) is a smart marketing move.

One of the most persuasive and cost-effective ways to promote your practice is to encourage loyal patients to act as brand advocates and drive new business to you.  The advantages of these programs are tangible and many:

  • Increases sales from a targeted audience at a low cost

Many client referral programs pay for themselves several times over annually, which makes them one of the most cost effective ways to market your         services.  With results like that, can your practice afford to not have a referral program?

While it’s true that many clients will refer new patients to your brand naturally, building a marketing program that promotes and rewards referrals from your best clients (or professional referral system) can increase new consumer acquisitions several times over.

  • Gives existing consumers “bragging rights”

Also known as the advocacy boost, an interesting phenomenon occurs hen clients make recommendations. They not only attract new clients, but they also increase their own attachment to you, increasing their overall patient value.

  • Delivers measurable results

Unlike many marketing programs, you can closely and continually measure your ROI (return on investment).

Never Underestimate the Power of Just Desserts

When asked for a favor, many of us enjoy and appreciate a pat on the back.  I know I do.  So condor offering  “dessert” for any successful referral a healthcare professional, employee or patient provides.  Desserts could include a bonus in the paycheck or a gift to the referring physician.  As far as a “dessert for the patient”, think about what you can offer them which would be relevant and desirable.

Getting new patients through referrals only sweetens your business dealings.


Your list of current patients is the most valuable source for pursuing referrals.

But what about non-patient referrals?

Back when I was first starting out, networking was key.  I set up a meeting with another physician who had just moved into the area.  I thought he was an ophthalmologist (according to the staff).  He thought I was an internist. We had a lovely lunch and discussed referring patients to each other when we had a good laugh.  You see, although I thought he was a specialist in eye surgery, he was actually a radiologist.  Instead of an internist, I was a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist.  Both specialties went hand-in-hand for seeing the same patients with compatible care.  We had a great friendship and successful referral system from that day forward.

Physicians are looking for people in your specialty to refer their patients to, why shouldn’t it be you?  Especially if you have a good reputation and participate in the same insurance plans, having a doctor refer their patients to you is gold.  For everyone that comes, these patients are referring their friends and family, causing an explosion of new clients.

The same holds true for vendors.  If you have more patients, you will be purchasing more of your vendor’s products and so they have a vested interested in seeing you do well.  The thing is, you have to actually mention that this is a way that they can help you.

Stay connected to all the people you know as well as the specialists from other areas that you network with at conferences.  Patients may relocate and their old physicians can refer them to you to take up the vacancy.


What has worked in your practice?  Share your tactics in the comment box below.