Your clinic is up and running. All you need now are patients. The problem is that you might not be that known yet. That’s where doctor marketing comes in. If successful, this brings in valuable physiotherapy referrals.
Since you’re starting, you might not be familiar with how doctor marketing works. There are a lot of ways to go about it. If you want to be as thorough as possible, here are the steps you can take. But first, what’s doctor marketing?
Why Do You Need to Market to Doctors in the First Place?
Doctor Marketing is marketing your practice and services to the physicians in your community. You do need to do this because they are where the bulk of your clients come from. Whenever a person has an ache of some sort, she will go to a doctor first.
Once physicians determine their patients’ issues, they will issue prescriptions and other referrals. If these patients need physiotherapy, who’s better than you, right? Hence, these doctors need to know who you are and what you can do for their patients.
How to Market Your Practice: Gaining Physiotherapy Referrals
When Preparing as a Physiotherapist
Consider what you want to say to a particular physician before meeting them. Take this time to get ready and make any of the materials below:
1. Prepare Your Questions and Selling Points
First and foremost, you need a list of questions ready. As a good choice for physiotherapy referrals, your job is to make the doctor’s life a little easier by adding you to his referral pool. The following are the questions you can consider for your next meeting:
- What is your philosophy concerning your practice?
- How many patients do you generally get in a day?
- How often do your patients get musculoskeletal difficulties?
- What were these conditions?
- Did you refer them to any physiotherapist?
- How many do you refer to in a day?
- To whom do you refer? Why?
- How are their services treating you?
- Is there anything you want to improve on?
Moreover, your practice should have its Unique Selling Proposition to differentiate yourself from the rest. It could be what you specialize in when treating certain ailments. What makes your practice better than any other place on the market?
Figure out what you want to be known for if it’s for your expertise or how cost-efficient your practice is. Group therapy and free consultation sessions work well with cutting costs but won’t compromise the quality of your work.
2. Construct a Copy Like a Medical Journey
This format will draw any physician’s eyes to your letter and, by extension, your business. It’s to ensure that they’ll associate the benefits of medical journals with your services.
Think about the format, like letterheads with the name of your business front and center. There should be a specific issue you would like them to read about, like the focus of your practice. As an example, the issues with carpal tunnel syndrome.
There should be the following:
- The symptoms of the said disorder
- A summary of the latest research
- How your practice treats it
- A testimony from a recovered patient in your care
- The recommendation of referrals to you (for any queries or your services)
3. Expect That Doctors Won’t Know Everything
A family physician may know a lot about the typical symptoms of everyday diseases but not more complex musculoskeletal afflictions. As a physiotherapist, your expertise is vital for something a doctor might not see.
Physiotherapy is an intricate form of therapy that takes years to learn. You shouldn’t make any doctor feel insecure about their capabilities. Discuss with them like you would any other patient with no condescension.
4. Always Put the First Appointment In
Doctors are very busy people. Oftentimes, they won’t look for a professional physiotherapist to add to their roster. Reach out for yourself.
If you find a likely candidate, set up a meeting. Call in for an appointment of your own, but make it convenient for the physician in question. It shouldn’t block his other appointments or make his patients wait. If the meeting’s too short, you can always invite him outside the office for a chat.
5. Get In Well With the Front Desk Staff
Doctors will have their staff that manages their front desk, calls, and appointments. It means that these people, or gatekeepers, are the ones you interact with first before even meeting any doctor. Show them how important they are with what you say.
The initial call is crucial. Talking about the ins and outs of the clinic, along with the possibility of sending in a couple of your clients for consultations, will surely open up a few doors.
Getting other pertinent information like the doctor’s details, workload, and types of patients won’t hurt either. It’s also your chance to squeeze in an invitation from the front desk personnel to introduce you in between cases.
When Getting the Right Doctor for Physiotherapy Referrals
Now that you’re ready to meet with doctors, you should know which doctors to approach. Sending out letters to every physician in the area could waste valuable time. Do a bit of research like the ones below:
1. Inquire With Your Patients
Your current patients might already know if their doctors need a physiotherapist in their pool or not. If they don’t, there’s no harm in sending a letter or two offering your business to them. Ask for permission first, of course.
In the letter, write about wanting to know the patient’s progress, along with knowing more about their practice for future referrals on your end. Don’t forget to add how they can refer to you at the end of the letter as a PS.
2. Look For Incoming Doctors in Your Area
Imagine being the new physician in the neighborhood. You just moved in, and you don’t know anybody there yet. It also means your list of referrals needs some refreshing.
That doctor needs someone like you. Help him out by going to him. Having a physiotherapy referral resource such as yourself will only boost their credibility. While doing your regular rounds of calls, you can also ask around about any new physicians or medical offices near you.
Keep in mind, if these doctors already have a full referral list, it might be best to put your efforts elsewhere.
3. Consider the Doctors Leaving Their Practice Behind
The same goes for retiring doctors or who have left their practice altogether. Another physician will take over for them. If he’s the seasoned kind or new to the business, he’ll still need a physiotherapist to refer for other cases.
Whether or not they’re new, the most impactful way to get doctors’ attention is to send some patients their way. They’ll be grateful for the business and you already have your foot in the door.
All the while, you are already updating your contacts as well. These routine calls will not only show you which you should call more often, but who you can not move forward with anymore.
4. Make Sure the Doctors Trust You
Marketing to doctors is about more than just meeting them to get more physiotherapy referrals. Remember that this should be a mutually-beneficial relationship. For you to establish anything with them, they need to like you and trust you.
You can be the best in the business, but if doctors themselves won’t like you, they won’t refer you to their patients. The rule of thumb is to find what they like and work from there. Keep in mind to concentrate on them and their patients as well.
If one of the doctors is a coffee connoisseur, take her to a local coffee tasting. If another one loves to golf, take him out for a round. Though, don’t talk shop right away. Talk about them for a change and their interests.
Over time, as your relationship grows, the doctors will be the ones to ask you about how your referrals are going.
5. Be Sure to Leave Your Phone Number
It could be aggravating when the doctor you meet couldn’t contact you. He might want to talk more about how you can help each other or if a patient is asking for your kind of treatment.
Leaving your number can give any doctor a direct line to you. It might even show how you’re going to prioritize them and their patients when you inevitably work together. Each doctor relationship you foster is important, after all.
When Fostering Current Relationships With Physicians
Getting a doctor to notice you is only half the battle. Develop every doctor relationship you and your clinic will have now and in the future with these easy-to-follow follow-ups below:
1. Take Care of the Doctors Who Already Refer to You
Never forget about the physicians who refer to your practice already. You should foster these relationships even right after you get them. Otherwise, they might forget about your practice or find someone else.
After the first meeting, the succeeding ones should be every month. Let the doctor know about them too. When you know your relationship is secure, then you can reduce the number of visits.
It’s recommended to meet and talk with each of the physicians every 3 months. Consider it as the time to discuss your patients’ progress and the new services your clinic can provide. While there, take the time to get feedback from the doctors and patients alike.
2. Build These Doctors Up
Speaking highly of all doctors, in general, will greatly impact your reputation. When interacting with your associates and patients, you can commend the doctor’s bedside manner or how much he cares about his patients.
It’s a simple thing, but it could help your relationship with them. They’ll see you in a more positive light, strengthening the bond you already have.
3. Guide the Doctors on the Referrals
Physicians themselves are talented at what they do, but not in everything. Their specializations might differ from yours. So, a family doctor may encounter a patient that’s showing tension in his lower back, but no medication helps. That doctor might not know who to refer to.
It doesn’t help if you specialize in everything under the sun, which adds to the confusion. Instead, try to localize your expertise to one region. You can start by being the wrist expert or back expert. This move won’t diminish your practice but will localize these distinct referrals to you.
Show these doctors the symptoms of some problems you’ll gladly help them with. Once you’ve done enough physiotherapy referrals and gained the doctor’s trust, you can introduce more of your services. Remember to tell the physician about the following:
- The musculoskeletal problems you treat and their symptoms
- The kind of treatment you offer for each
- The course of action the patient should expect
- The referral process the doctor will do for you
4. Forward Your Reports to the Doctors
Doctors should get updates about their patient’s progress. Every patient report should be sent to them, in any format that they prefer (email, typed, or written by hand). Be as thorough as possible.
Discharge reports are a part of that too, along with the reasons if the patient is self-discharging. Write down everything necessary, including the regimens used with their treatment (the patient’s food intake, sleep, etc.). By doing this, you’re making the doctor’s work easier.
5. Tell the Doctors You Need the Work
Being straightforward is not always a bad thing. Doctors would appreciate the honesty. You can empathize with the doctor, telling her you also know about the risks of sending her patients to someone she recently met.
All you ask is for a chance with a few physiotherapy referrals next month. Prove to the physician that you can indeed help her patients. Only then you tell her the kind of patients she could send you. If the doctors have any questions, they can call you anytime.
Furthermore, doctor marketing is a business transaction. It could always go beyond just referrals. There are other ways you can benefit one another while strengthening the bond you’ve created. It’s still better to do this after a modicum of trust.
The proximity of your clinic to the doctor’s practice gives you enough chances. Go out for a friendly lunch and talk about joint advertisements and fees. Maybe even hire him for an enrichment seminar with your staff.
As a professional, this still might be a daunting venture. But, with whatever steps you take, doctor marketing is like a game of chance. Not every doctor will like you or will be willing to send physiotherapy referrals your way.
You won’t have a guaranteed relationship with any doctor if you don’t put effort into it. Even when one doctor already has that connection, he might know somebody else who does.