Long gone are the days where offering the best patient care in town is enough to drive new business through the door. Today, physical therapy marketers are having to think outside the box and rely heavily on other effective mediums of patient acquisition—like referrals.
What’s unique about this traffic source is that referral funnels (the process you use from referral to acquisition) never appear to be broken as long as you’re seeing people come through the door. However, this fails to ask two important questions—could we be getting more new patients, and is our referral funnel safe from changing market conditions?
Let’s take a look at seven of the most important characteristics of an effective and longevity-protected rehab therapy referral funnel.
1. Clearly Defined
If the terms referral or revenue funnel sound new, that’s okay. That being said, before the referral process can be assessed and optimized, it must be clearly defined. Start by ensuring that you have a complete revenue funnel in place and then start dissecting the referral piece of that complete funnel. The more structure you can provide to the process, the easier optimization becomes.
2. Diversity of Sources
In order for the referral piece of a physical therapy marketing strategy to achieve longevity, it needs to be diverse. If all referrals are coming from a single source, what happens if that source moves away or chooses a different partner? Or what if all of your referrals come from one type of doctor and the industry or demand shifts? A lack of diversity in referral sources can be like a house built on shifting sand.
3. Consistency and Seasonality of Sources
Are your referral sources consistently sending you new business or are they sporadic? Are there particular seasons where more business gets sent? This ties in closely with the diversity of referral sources. It’s important for an effective referral program to have business coming in at all times of the year, especially in seasons where other patient acquisition sources might be slower.
4. Patient Mix
If all referrals are for one type of medical care, it can create issues with the diversity piece, especially if you have a limited number of staff who can provide those services. Additionally, value-based care means that the different types of patients you work with affect your bottom line. This becomes especially important when a practice is operating towards the top of the capacity range. Are the types of cases being referred helping or hindering you from maximizing your practice’s potential?
5. Referral Quality
An effective referral program is not just about quantity—it’s about quality. Are the referred patients converting through the revenue funnel to paying clients? Are the patients more or less likely to self-discharge or miss an appointment? If a referral source is sending over a lot of dead weight that doesn’t convert or creates issues with efficiency once converted, it may warrant some deeper digging into how that source is acquiring the leads.
Just because an effective referral program isn’t all about quantity doesn’t mean that it isn’t still an important factor. A practice can have the strongest leads on the planet, but if only a few are coming in throughout the month, that’s an issue.
Here’s the general rule with the number of referrals. As long as quality is maintained and you have the bandwidth to handle the extra business, more is always better.
7. Properly Aligned Resources and Support
An underlying theme you may see developing through this article is that certain referral sources are more important to a business than others. A key step in leveraging this information that we discuss in our free e-book, 4 Ways to Use Your EMR To Generate New Business, is how to categorize referral sources and then how to decide how to allocate resources and support in response to those categorizations appropriately.
If you’d like to learn more about this and other ways to leverage existing data to drive new business, we’d encourage you to take a minute and check out our free e-book, 4 Ways to Use Your EMR To Generate New Business.
4 Ways to Use Your EMR To Generate New Business
Leverage existing data and reporting to obtain new patients.