Can Benchmarking Boost a Physician Referral Program?

May 15, 2017


Can Benchmarking Boost a Physician Referral Program?

One measure of a doctor or surgeon’s success could be reflected in the number of referrals they get. Everyone wants a high Net Promoter Score (NPS), right? So let me ask you, how is your physician referral program doing?

Doctors could refer other doctors based on personal relationships, mutual respect, or organizational ties. Patients, on the other hand, are more likely to refer a caregiver to friends and family based on their communication skills, how much time is spent in the waiting room, the physician’s attitude, or the convenience of the office’s location.

Whether it’s from peers, a healthcare review site like Yelp or Healthgrades, from another doctor, or reflected in your NPS, referrals come in because the doctor or organization is perceived to give high-quality care.

So if you’ve got all those factors on lockdown, you should be good to go and your physician referral program, in theory, should be booming … right? But what if that’s not the case and you’re lacking referrals? Then there’s a piece of the puzzle that most wouldn’t think of that contributes – benchmarking.

Benchmarking makes healthcare transparent, which is key to attracting new patients. According to CODE partner and reputation management company MDValuate, without internal and external benchmarks and comparisons, you don’t know if a specific program and its initiatives are working. If you don’t know, how will your patients?

How to use benchmarking to boost your physician referral program

MDValuate offers the following tips to get everything in tip-top shape:

1. Set referral goals.

Much like benchmarking, you’ll need to set your goals. But don’t just set any goals. MDValuate suggests SMART goals: specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, and time-based.

2. Track goals against your benchmarks.

MDValuate argues that two problems arise from not benchmarking or tracking goals. First, this means there’s an unclear assessment of whether or not your program initiatives are working. The second issue is time. Data collection takes a lot of it, and as long as you’re keeping up with your goals (let’s say on a weekly basis), you won’t have to analyze a ton of data on a time crunch. If these goals are tracked, analyzed, and benchmarked along the way, it’s less stress for your team.

3. Use physician referral tools to prioritize outreach efforts.

In the digital age, there’s more opportunity to connect with patients than ever before. You could put a referral form on your website, reach out on social media sites like LinkedIn, or with live Twitter chats.

4. Measure patient acquisition from referrals versus other channels at the end of each quarter.

Like we do with our benchmarking process, it’s important not only to compare your referral initiatives internally but externally as well. MDValuate suggests setting up quarterly meetings to get program updates in regards to referral-driving campaigns. “Doing so will remind you to measure patient acquisition and also will provide the opportunity for an apples-to-apples view of how your referral program performs compared to other marketing campaigns.”

5. Compare against your competition.

What are your successful competitors doing that you’re not? What do you do that makes you successful that your competitors don’t? While you’ll want to market your strengths in order to get referrals, it’s important to remember to be unique and “specially positioned to help patients.”

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