As with any important goal, creating a plan can help you figure out how to achieve more.
With your practice, you need to discover how your patients found your clinic in order to figure out how you should be marketing, who you might be missing out on, and where you can find more new patients for your practice. Asking on your patient intake forms can help you get direct answers from patients and uncover ways patients are finding you that you may not be aware of already.
Keep in mind that if you want your practice to grow, you will need to learn how to leverage patient referrals and advertising venues such as social media—asking your patients how they found your practice can provide much-needed direction for your marketing plans.
In this article, we will explain how you can discover patient referral sources and learn how to leverage them to find new patients for your practice.
Asking the right questions
Using your patient intake forms, you can ask your new patients to report how they found your clinic. Depending on their answers, you can then formulate a marketing strategy, adjust your current marketing, or stop marketing efforts that are not working as well as they should.
This can yield some interesting, and measureable, data. If you have a lot of patients reporting that someone recommended your clinic to them, then that could be a good sign that your practice is making a difference for your patients. (Keep in mind, though, that you still need to protect patient privacy; you probably should not ask patients to name a specific referral source if it is an individual or household.)
If you are receiving a lot of intake forms that say your patient heard about you through a Google search online, then you know your online marketing may be having a positive impact on your business—your website is probably working.
On your intake forms, consider including the question, “where did you first hear about us?” Have checkboxes for each answer. Here are a few suggested answers to offer:
- Social Media
- Online Search
- Physician Referral
- Practice’s Website
- Yelp, Angie’s List, or Another Review Website
- Personal Referral/Family Member/Friend
Using the data
It may help to look through past patient intake forms, whether paper or electronic, and count how many different referral sources you find. Record these source types so you can interpret your data effectively. You may want to use a chart or spreadsheet to keep track, and perhaps check-in with new data at least three times a year. If you notice changes in the data or begin to pick up trends, then you can adjust what you are doing accordingly.
If your numbers are weak and few people report hearing about your practice online or offline, they may just be encountering your practice location and deciding independently of advertising or referrals to try an appointment. In that case, you could probably build your practice by doing more marketing or trying another approach altogether. You might not be doing any marketing at all right now, in which case it makes sense to pick up the pace and begin new marketing strategies.
A particularly weak source of new patients may be something to abandon altogether, especially if it is costly or uses a lot of your time.
Use your data to look for ways to boost efficiency at your clinic, eliminate marketing strategies that are not performing well, step up marketing that is very effective and begin growing your clinic using the power of effective marketing.
Now that you know more about your clinic’s referrals and marketing, it is time to step up your marketing and make adjustments. Look carefully for ways to improve what you are doing and eliminate inefficient practices. It may help to ask your office staff for their input, too, or ask your coworkers if you work at a practice with other doctors.
From there, you can stay aware of how your referrals are working. If you need new sources of referrals, you now know where to start. Over time, this process will probably become easier and you can start to see growth and improvement.
- Practice Promotions. “Patient Lead Generation: Where are Your Patients Coming From.” Practice Promotions blog. https://practicepromotions.net/patient-lead-generation-conversion-tracking/. Accessed: October 2017.