Like other dental specialists, you may wrestle with the question: how can you generate new patient referrals from other dentists?
Whether you’re a pedodontist or prosthodontist, endodontist or periodontist, it’s a fact that you depend on other dental professionals to send patients to you.
Here are a few ways you can market your services to other dental peers near you.
If you’re new to the area, you’ll have to put forth an effort to make yourself known. Try to engage with general dentists at both professional and community functions. Hand out business cards at conferences and CE seminars. Reach out to dentists with a reputation you respect and ask to set up a time to meet in person and discuss the possibility of becoming referral partners. Explain how teaming up with you will add value to their own practice.
Make it easy for others to refer to you
Dentists may avoid referring to you if your practice has a reputation for being hard to deal with. Take steps to ensure that referring patients to you is a smooth process.
When a dentist calls into your office, they shouldn’t be put on hold for minutes at a time or given the runaround with scheduling and documentation issues.
Establish a clear system for handling referral phone calls. Set up a dedicated phone line for those, if need be. Appoint a team member who can serve as an ambassador of your practice who can focus on cultivating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with other offices. Make sure this “ambassador” is always available to take calls and follow up on referrals.
Create some pre-filled forms, both digital and print, that you can share with referring dentists. The forms should include your contact information and steps for transferring the patient’s care to you. They should also indicate what information you need to know about the case before seeing the patient. Supply general dentists in your area with a stack of these forms so that they can complete and send them off within minutes.
After a dentist refers someone to you, send them a note of thanks. If they routinely send new patients your way and you have a good relationship, then take things a step further. Send over the occasional surprise delivery of cookies for the other team. Join forces to combine office parties with the other practice.
Return the favor
Don’t expect referrals unless you’re willing to return the favor.
As a specialist, you may get the occasional patient who comes into your practice with a specific complaint. If you learn that they don’t have a general dentist to supply them with exams, cleanings, and so on, use your referral network to send these patients to a skilled dentist who also happens to be a loyal referring partner.
Be easy to find.
One of the most important ways to get patients referred to you by other dental peers is to make sure those doctors can locate your practice.
If you practice in a sparsely populated area or if there’s virtually no competition for your services, then it’s easy for all the dentists in your area to personally know you and refer patients to you. But what if you’re just one of a dozen orthodontists in a booming metropolis of half a million residents?
Dentists in your area who want to refer out to someone in your specialty may start with an online search. If you want those dentists to locate and select your practice out of the sea of choices in your area, then you need a website that gets found.
Make sure your practice website is current and optimized for online search. Include a page that provides clear instructions to dentists looking for a provider they can refer to and add a form that they can fill out and securely forward to your office.
Securing those new patient referrals does take courage and effort. But as long as you show that you respect your dental peers and have a valuable service to offer, the hard work will pay off.