How To Obtain More Referrals From Pediatricians

Russell G. Volpe, DPM

   Search engines will find your practice quicker and rank it higher in browsers if there are more references to pediatrics and/or pediatric conditions. As many patients who are using the Internet today to help them find medical information and to choose doctors, almost as many physicians use search engines to find resources for their patients when they may not have someone readily available.

   With Web site development, you get multiple audiences for your effort. Once you and your practice are a presence on the Web, you will benefit from all those who search and find your practice. This may be patients searching on their own or doctors searching on behalf of their patients.

Why Writing Consultation Reports Is Imperative

Perhaps the most powerful way to increase referrals from pediatricians and the one that I have found most effective in my practices is to write and send consultation reports to pediatricians and other practitioners who refer patients to you.

   Each time a doctor refers you a patient, send him or her a report of your findings and recommendations for that child. There are many ways to produce these reports, whether you use dictation systems, word processing templates or handwritten letters. The important thing is to do the reports and not get too behind in completing them or having your staff complete them. If you are backed up and have too many to complete, you will never catch up. Part of the value of these reports is that you send them in a timely fashion so the referring doctor has the benefit of your specialist evaluation and recommendations.

   Develop simple forms and templates you can complete in small amounts of free time. Then designate a staff member to produce the finished document on a computer. You can then read it over and sign at the end of the day or week, and get it out to the referring doctor. Sometimes for practices I work with frequently, I will save a stamp and fax the consultation report or e-mail it as an attachment to the office. Your content reaches them even sooner this way.

   I have found that the enemy of doing these reports successfully is to make them too complicated. It will take too much of your time to produce and it is likely more information than the referring pediatrician needs or wants. If you are concise and focused, the doctor is more likely to read it, absorb the information and remember it the next time he or she sees a similar patient. Work to find user-friendly methods to stay on top of these reports and get them out to the referring doctors. I have found this a very successful way to continue to receive referrals from these practices.

   These reports also give you the opportunity to thank the doctor for the referral and invite feedback, which may start a dialogue that can lead to future referrals. I always try to send a copy of the report to other practitioners who may also be treating this child. For example, if a physical therapist sends me a child, I will write my consultation report to the referring therapist and I will also send a copy to their pediatrician. This allows me to inform the pediatrician about my care and also affords me the opportunity to introduce myself and my practice.

Underscoring The Benefits Of Positive Word Of Mouth

Finally, happy patients and happy parents will spread the word to others about the good work you have done. This includes them telling the pediatrician about your work, even if the referral to you did not come from that doctor. If another parent refers a child to you and the parents are pleased with how you were able to help that child, they can be a valuable and credible endorsement of you to the pediatrician. Do not hesitate to let a parent know that you appreciate his or her letting the pediatrician know of the service you provided and that you are available to other families in that practice.

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