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Attracting more patients with intelligent referral marketing

W4 | W4 / June 1, 2022

In many specialist areas, the majority of patients come to the practice or clinic via referring doctors. That is why efficient referral marketing is a central component of practice marketing. However, practices and clinics often lack the right strategy or the time to implement it.

Whether it's a referral brochure, a referral newsletter or a catalogue of requirements: We will show you in three steps how to develop an intelligent referral marketing strategy and thus attract new referrers.

Do you want successful referral marketing? Then you need to clarify a number of questions:

  • How do you get the attention of referrers?
  • What is the role of an ABC analysis?
  •  What is the best approach to referral marketing?
  • Which instruments best support referral marketing?

gaining more patients via referring colleagues

The basis for a commercially successful therapy practice is enough patients. Prescribing doctors can influence patients' choice of therapists through personal recommendations or medically based referrals. This is where your systematic referral marketing strategy starts. Therapists know the differences in the cooperation with the individual medical practices from their daily practice. Therefore, the development of a referral marketing strategy starts with a strategic market analysis in several steps.

  1. Determine market potential: First, you determine the catchment area relevant for your practice. Depending on the degree of specialisation of your practice, this area will be larger or smaller. This will tell you how many medical practices are in your catchment area and how many doctors with the respective specialisation work in the practices. Now you can assign the doctor a calculated therapeutic product prescription volume for the corresponding speciality. You can find average values for this, e.g. on the Internet or via the case numbers and guideline values of the respective practice. The sum of the mathematically possible therapeutic product prescription volume of your catchment area represents the market potential for your practice in the area of SHI benefits.

    «The market potential in the entire area of private patients results from the shares of private patients of the individual medical practices.»
  2. Analyse referrer relationships: Evaluate your internal statistics quantitatively! Which doctors prescribe which services? With which doctors do you achieve the highest turnover? Create your list with the top 10 referring doctors. Then make a qualitative evaluation: Which doctors request medical reports? With whom are there follow-up prescriptions and prescriptions outside the regular case? Which doctors respond to the therapists' suggestions? Who sends more private patients than patients with health insurance? Or no private patients at all? Which doctors register personally and call? Who makes full use of the standard case of the catalogue of remedies or always remains below the possible prescription amount? This way you can create your own ranking.

  3. Categorise referrers: To ensure that your referral marketing activities are targeted and thus economical, you should divide your referrers into categories. There are different methods for doing this. One possibility comes from the hospital sector and sorts doctors according to two parameters: willingness to cooperate and intensity of referral.
    The willingness of the respective doctor to cooperate is shown by the type of cooperation, the way the topic of the doctor's letter is dealt with, etc. The qualitative factors described under point two can be used to make a classification on a scale of low to high. Here, the qualitative factors described under point two can be used to make a classification on a scale from low to high.
    On a similar scale from low to high, you can measure the referral intensity: how many patients are actually assigned to your practice by doctors or a practice. From the commercial sector comes the classic categorisation into ABC clients or, in this case, ABC referrers.  A-doctors refer frequently, actively and with a large volume of prescriptions, B-doctors refer less frequently, less actively but still with sufficient volume of prescriptions and C-doctors are the isolated referrers.

«The result of your systematic referral market analysis allows you to specifically tailor referral marketing to the respective referral categories.»

Intelligent referral marketing is much more than a monetary issue. The complex requirements of referring physicians must be understood in order to translate these insights into a forward-looking strategy. Only in this way will you successfully manage the flow of patients in your organisation.

Would you like concrete tips for the profitable design of your referral marketing? Then take a look at our guide:

Download now

We have been involved in practice communication for over 10 years and support practices and clinics in their daily practice and referral marketing. Get in touch with us.

Tags: Healthcare

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Sarah Wilhelm
Sarah Wilhelm
+41 44 562 49 39
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