3 steps to optimize physician referrals

As healthcare organizations struggle to remain competitive, they often overlook one potential opportunity: courting physician referrals, Medical Marketing & Media reports

While many providers may think focusing on referrals goes against current patient-centered healthcare models, establishing a firm physician referral base can improve outcomes and complement patient-centered marketing, according to the article. For example, when University Hospitals of Cleveland reformed its physician referral system two years ago, it was able to optimize both physician use and staff efficiency. Furthermore, a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services creates new exceptions to physician self-referral laws for certain providers, such as federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. 

Organizations must take the following three steps to get the most out of physician referrals, according to the article:

Standardize the process: Providers must analyze opportunities by specialty and market; analyze the current referral base; organize physicians according to referral penetration and potential; and formulate a plan for reaching each segment of physicians.

Ensure accurate master physician data: None of the analyses in step one will be effective without accurate data or if the data contain gaps, according to the article. To ensure accuracy, collaborate with third-party data providers during the process.

Develop multichannel marketing strategies: For the most part, patients base their provider choice on physician referrals rather than direct marketing. To strengthen their physician referral bases, organizations must tailor their marketing strategy to attract physicians, making sure to address modes of delivery and the factors that drive physician referrals, including specialists' medical skills, access to the practice and insurer compatibility.

To learn more:
- here's the article
- read the proposed rule (.pdf)