“How can I grow my referral network?”
As a private practice rehab therapist, admit it – you consider this question (or a version thereof) at least once a day. Perhaps it’s crept into your mind between treatment sessions, and maybe it’s even kept you up at night.
We get it. The true value of establishing, maintaining and growing a solid referral network can’t be understated. It’s the lifeblood of a rehab therapy practice, and it’s something that must be nurtured.
Even if your referral network’s strong today, you still aren’t completely off the hook. What would happen if, say, your main referral source changed hands, closed its doors, or was absorbed by a local healthcare conglomerate?
Keeping a strong referral network is definitely a process, and a challenging one at that, so it pays to cast nets that are as wide as they are diverse. But how?
You can start by rethinking your definition of what makes a referral source.
Right now, it’s likely you consider referral sources as colleagues within your local medical community – clinicians and surgeons you know and with whom you’ve developed a level of mutual trust and respect. And you’re right. These people make up the foundation of all good referral networks for rehab therapists.
But think beyond the clinic, outside the medical field and into other corners of your community. Other referral sources exist that aren’t quite so obvious but which can, with a little effort on your part, become reliable advocates of your inpatient acute or outpatient rehab therapy clinic.
How do you find them? Just follow the conversations. Where are people most likely to be discussing health, lifestyle, and staying active and independent? Here are some ideas:
Cycling & Running Shops
These retail stores likely draw some of your community’s most active people, many of whom come in looking for advice about fittings, form, discomfort, pain and injury. If your clinic offers physical therapy, reach out to owners and managers by offering free workshops, assessments for running/cycling club members, and literature (e.g., rack cards) about injury prevention and performance enhancement.
School Athletic Departments
Form relationships with athletic directors, coaches and parents of student-athletes by offering injury screenings, establishing workshops for parents concerned with preventing overuse injuries, and possibly being there to oversee trainers during games and meets.
Active aging, balance, fall prevention, managing arthritis and osteoporosis, performing tasks for everyday living … these are all top-of-mind concerns of those who regularly attend social gatherings and events at your local senior center. Contact the director to see what you could do – workshops, demonstrations, events, provide literature, and so on – to show seniors how rehab therapy can improve these and other issues.
Chambers of Commerce
Don’t overlook the value of good ol’ community networking. Your chamber of commerce exists to promote business members, providing a host of opportunities throughout the year to share info about yourself, your profession, and what you do for the community as a physical, occupational or speech therapy practice.
Wait. Isn’t the media supposed to be objective? Sure, but feeding your local press regular story ideas related to health, better movement, improved function and overcoming limits can, over time, educate your community about what you do. It can also prop you up as a community thought leader on all things related to physical, occupational and speech therapies. Such broad exposure can make referral sources out of … well, anyone!
Collectively, satisfied patients have the potential to become far and away your greatest sources for future referrals. The key, of course, is to ensure your rehab therapy patients are happy, engaged, and have successfully achieved the outcomes they envisioned prior to visiting your clinic.
It also helps to provide them ways to make it simple to sing your praises, whether it be through online reviews or participating in a patient success story.
At Net Health, we offer a Patient Engagement Marketing (PEM) solution that helps clinics create positive patient experiences and outcomes, while also providing happy patients with opportunities to share these experiences with others through positive online reviews. To learn more about Net Health© Patient Engagement Marketing, contact us today!