Maybe not, according to Debra Donohue, a medical group administrator with broad experience in specialty practice, and the newest member of the SullivanLuallinGroup.
"It's hard to tell if you're getting all of the referral volume that's out there if you don't track existing referral sources and patterns," says Debra. "And the type of referral is as important as the number of referrals," she adds.
A good practice management system will enable an administrator to track and trend the number of new patients sent by specific referral sources; the starting point for analysis by payer & procedure. "If Dr. Jones sends lots of patients, but they're all from your lowest reimbursing health plan, then she may not be doing you any favors!" says Debra.
On the other hand, if you have what you might consider a "poor" referral source - a provider whose referral volume seems skimpy - but whose patients typically have excellent health insurance and generate significant cases, that's a doctor in whom you should invest time and resources in an attempt to attract more referrals.
"At one of the practices I managed," says Debra, "we established a VIP program aimed at generating even more referrals from our top referring partners." And that is often a strategy overlooked by practice administrators whose goal is to boost revenue. Many specialty groups assume that their high-volume referrers send ALL of their patients to the practice and thus take those outlier referring providers for granted. Big mistake!
"The VIP program was designed based upon survey findings, analysis of all referral sources (and don't be fooled - they're NOT just the Primary Care Docs!), and the service lines that we provided. Innovative techniques were implemented to recognize and reach out to all referral markets. We went far beyond the traditional method of copying a dictated report with a canned, "Thank you for your kind referral of Mr. Smith...." And the best news of all is that you can create a VIP program in your practice with minimal cost, then expand upon it as your practice volumes grow!"
The focus is on four strategic components for building referral business. "You can't rely only on conventional wisdom which says that to generate new patient volume you must court all primary care doctors," says Debra. "We got creative and focused our referral building efforts on: (A) our current "VIP" high-booking referral sources; (B) the PCPs who had potential to be our "VIPs"; (C) our own patient population; and D) the community at large. We developed programs for each of those targets and increased our patient volumes from all four segments.
If you'd like to hear more about how Debra achieved these impressive results, attend our 60 minute interactive webinar, "GET THE REFERALS YOU DESERVE" on Tuesday, June 5th at 9:00 AM PDT. You'll have a chance to "ask the expert" and come away with specific low-cost, no-cost techniques for increasing your new patient volume!
Look for details about how to sign up for the webinar in next week's eblast or contact us directly at (619) 283-8988.