Three Ways to Maintain Referrals from Primary Care Providers (PCP)

When established dermatologists are asked, “How did you build your practice?”, the most common answer is “referrals from primary care providers (PCPs).”  These dermatologists put their “feet on the street” and introduced themselves to PCPs within a five to ten-mile radius of their practice and regularly followed up with these PCPs to provide updates on services offered, etc. 

Unfortunately, as the dermatology practice grows, the dermatologist has little time to go visit PCPs, and, as a result, some of these referral sources are wooed by the competition; question whether the dermatology provider is still accepting new patients or is still in practice at the same location; or simply forget about the dermatologist. 

How can an established dermatologist who wants to continue to grow his practice maintain relationships and referrals from local PCPs? 

Use technology.

Just like the dermatologist, the PCPs are busy, with little time for meetings.  Use email or text messages to maintain contact. Whether it be a personal text message or quarterly email with brief updates about the practice, technology provides a cost-effective, time-saving way to maintain contact and encourage follow-up by the PCP.

Leave behind marketing fact sheet.

Develop a one-page, brief fact sheet about your practice and ask PCPs if it can be available in their waiting rooms and/or exam rooms.  A fact sheet not only keeps the dermatology practice top-of-mind with the PCP and his staff but also can be taken by the patient for future reference.

Thank the PCP personally for each referral.

Make certain the dermatology practice’s appointment schedulers note how a new patient heard about the practice.  When the patient was referred by a PCP, send a handwritten thank you note from the dermatologist to the PCP acknowledging the referral.  A second option is to quickly send a text to the referring PCP to thank him for the referral. 

Remember, providers prefer to be contacted by their colleagues- i.e. other medical providers.  Avoid the temptation to hire a field marketing person to manage the relationships with PCPs.

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