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Medical Practice Business And Marketing Articles

Article #32  April 2012

Get Patient Referrals Is Your Key to Your
Medical Practice Profitability”

Understanding how to profit from your referral marketing
system is the greatest free referrals practice building
secret any doctor will ever discover.

Take one easy step and you will never go back. Just realizing that nearly 100% of your medical practice is referral based should be a clue to your need to focus on ways to capitalize on this free referral process advantages. Your medical patients arrive at you door either by referring themselves or by others who refer them.

Various studies have revealed that about 40% of your patients are self-referred. The other 60% are doctor referred (Target Marketing Mag. April 2012). Immediately, you can see the advantage of catering to doctors who refer patients to your practice, to you.  

The process of recruiting a continual stream of new (sometimes old patients) patients from other doctors who predictably can become a resource for referring their patients to you is called “referral marketing.” Referral marketing is a very profitable process if it’s done right. There are certain fragments of the process, when they are lined up properly, that require an organizational structure, a plan that enables a medical professional to efficiently continue to build their medical practice.

You create a “system” that works for you and is unique to your medical practice. This article is all about how to do that and make it work. Free referrals to your medical practice is a blessing you can’t afford to pass up. 

The tide of any medical practice sustainability is a function of bringing in more new patients than you are losing from your practice. The problem with that is most doctors in private practice don’t keep records or have a way of measuring the monthly gain or loss of patients.

Consequently, they never know whether their practice is growing or disintegrating. It’s so slow of a change that it goes on rarely noticed. When you make the effort to create a referral marketing system, you will quickly know how your practice is doing… the first big advantage of a referral system.  

Your first focus on improving doctor referrals of patients doesn’t mean you abandon self-referred patient marketing, you’re just adding to it.

The essential factors necessary for creating your own "doctor referral" marketing system...  

1. Search out which doctor’s have already been sending you patients

If you don’t already have a system in place to know which doctors have sent you a patient over the last year… set one up today! It has to be recorded whenever a referral patient from anywhere contacts your office... even the ones that never pan out, never show up for their appointment, never reschedule.

Your office staff members must all be made aware of the importance of this endeavor, and repeatedly reminded of it. These contacts should be recorded in one place only, preferably a front desk journal, not loose slips of paper kept in a folder somewhere.

The information recorded should include the date of contact, name of person your staffer spoke to and who they are, the name of the patient being referred and their contact information, name of the doctor referring the patient, and reason for the referral (medical problem).

2. Define what kind of medical issues those patients are most commonly referred to you for  

When you investigate the list of referred patient’s medical problems, you will be aware of what other doctors in your community consider you an expert at diagnosing and treating. The list of medical problems also reflects other doctor’s perceptions of what you do best.

It may be that you are good at other medical skills that they don’t know about yet and is your job to make that clear to them during the marketing contacts you make with them.

A doctor associate of mine, who unconsciously left other doctors with the perception that he preferred not to do gyn major surgery cases, revealed to our practice group that he had done only one hysterectomy in the past year, but had done more OB deliveries than any of us had.

He didn’t know that local doctors perceived that about him, nor, if he did, he would not have known how to correct the misconception... nor would have I in
those times.

  3. Putting the word out that you love to work with
  referred patients

  Local doctors don’t know what you desire, unless you
  tell them. The fact that you accept referred patients, contrary
  to public opinion, does not indicate to others that your
  practice is suffering (a common embarrassing belief among
  doctors), but rather to the fact that you are building
  your practice.

  A polite introductory short letter (not email) to the doctors
  in your community helps to increase referrals. Describe
  your reasoning for sending the letter to them, meanwhile
  being humble, honest, and transparent. Assuming that all
  the local doctors know what you like to do in your practice
  is a masochistic mistake.

  4. Segment your lists of physician referrals.

Make two lists to start with. Expand those to more focused
  doctor referral lists after you know the doctors who refer
  the most patients. The first list should be the doctors who
  already refer patients to you. The second list you need is a
  list of those doctors who potentially might be good to
  approach about sending you referral patients.

  The medical community grapevine usually reveals which
  doctors refer patients commonly, and to whom they send
  them. Later on you can market more to the doctors that
  send you occasional patients (a sub-list of doctors) as
  apposed to ones who send you lots of patients.

  Never neglect those doctors that constantly send you
  patients… treat them even better than your own mother.

How to create a referral marketing system for using this information...

1. Design a step-by-step protocol that your office staff members must follow when every referral patient contact occurs...

The protocol should include such items as...

·   What the new patient should be told about the
referral visit on the phone, and how you want the process handled.

·   Set of responses to questions the referred patient will
most likely ask.

·     Options for appointment scheduling. When you want to
see those patients, length of appt., etc.

·     Emphasis on seeing them as soon as possible and your
special interest in solving their medical problem.

2. Construct a protocol to be followed by your office staff during the patient’s first appointment in your office...

It should include the following...

  • Exaggerated efforts at hospitality by all members
    of the office staff
  • Minimal waiting time in the reception area
  • Patient should be inconspicuously moved ahead to an
    exam room ahead of other waiting patients
  • Explanation to the patient the sequence of events
    that will happen—like put on exam gown before the
    doctor enters, re-dress and be moved to the consultation
    private office or room, findings, treatment options, and
    decisions to be discussed in the private environment, etc.
  • Possible second or third follow-up visit and for what
    reasons... all explained to the patient
  • How and when the doctor’s findings and treatment
    (if any) will be sent back to her or his own doctor
  • Tell what the patient should do next, or what should
    happen next in the process
  • Give a time-line for the results of tests and treatments
    to be completed
  • Need for any further consultations, if any, you believe
    may be advisable


3. Compose a protocol for your office members to follow for the follow-up visits, if any

Should include such things as...

    • If the patient does not call back for a second
      follow-up visit by _____time frame, do______.

    • Ways to be sure the referral doctor actually got
      your findings and written report

    • Ways to be sure the patient completed the tests
      you may have ordered

    • Ways to be sure all results of tests ordered have
      been done and you have seen the reports

    • Ways to be sure the patient is informed of
      the test results

These are the basics of an office referral system management of a patient who has been sent to you on referral. Once you have a fixed system in place to manage this part of the referral system with the patient, speed and efficiency are possible, and confusion in your office is eliminated.

It reflects on your better than average ability to manage medical problems without mistakes, delays, forgetfulness, or incompetence. Your credibility is vastly increased and substantiated. 

(The follow-up article next month will continue with and complete this topic to how you should effectively manage referral doctors, and how to market to them in a way that they will gladly refer patients to you once they understand what you will do for them and their patients.)

The author, Curt Graham, M.D., an experienced physician, author, marketer and expert in medical practice business and marketing strategies, is an expert author and motivator for professionals in the business world. He is a platinum expert author with and has been published in Modern Physician and elsewhere.
Discover how to make your medical practice flourish and exceed all expectations with simple business and marketing strategies. Click the link now for the effective ways to do it.

©Copyright 2004-2011, Curtis Graham, M.D., All Rights Reserved.

 handwritten signature of Dr. Graham

Article #32A


                                                  Dan kenney riding on a bull

Why People Fail

A series of No B.S.  Articles from Dan Kennedy

"Now Is The Time To Do It Differently"

      “Help! – I Can’t Get Out Of The Box I Put Myself In!”

The fast food industry got the idea for drive-in windows from banks. I guess there was a McDonalds executive sitting at the bank drive-through one day who thought, “I don’t think we can fit the milkshakes in these tubes, but… ”Netjets", the leader in fractional jet ownership, now owned by Warren Buffet, owes its birth to the vacation time-share industry.

The microwave in your kitchen was not originally intended to go there; its original manufacturer, Litton, believed no consumer would buy it and built them only for restaurants. When was the last time you heard of Litton?  What does this tell you?  That successful businesses live or die by cross-industry ‘borrowing’ of ideas, that inspiration more often comes from outside the box than from within. Ordinary businesses stay ordinary, their owners eking out only ordinary incomes – and working too hard for them – as long as those owners foolishly and stubbornly, mentally stay in their own tiny backyard.

Breakthroughs come from bringing fresh ideas found outside one’s own business in and applying them in new ways. You choose to limit or expand your income by the way you reject or embrace ideas found far afield from your present modus operandi and industry norms.


The vast majority of ordinary businesspeople with ordinary incomes and never-ending ordinary complaints about how hard they work but how little they gain, about being unable to compete with the bigger and cheaper…have this in common: they get their hands on powerful information like that in this very publication and waste their time and energy in the non-creative activity of finding all the ways it can’t and doesn’t apply to them.

Some people have such teeny, tiny, calcified, crippled imaginations they can only appreciate an example precisely matched to them – oh, that won’t work for me because her place sells pizza and I sell Chinese food, and hers is in a medium sized city and I’m in a small town, and it rains a lot where she is but it’s sunny here; you have to show me an example from a Chinese restaurant in a small town where it’s hot and dry. Fools stay stuck in the very limiting “But My Business Is Different” box, thereby negating the
value of 99% of every successful strategy, example, model they see or are presented with.


My client list is, fortunately, chock full of people who think in very opposite ways. They get rich by finding the non-obvious opportunities. Living creatively. Adapting tried-and-true winning strategies from somewhere else to where they are.  They attack each issue of my newsletter, each book I suggest to them, with yellow hi-liter and bias for action, not closed mind.

They are willing, even eager to “re-imagine” their businesses while others have Bilbo Baggins’ (The Hobbit) attitude: not interested in adventures – they make you late for dinner.  Space here does not permit telling you such client stories, but I’d invite you to get a peek, viewing the half-hour TV show at, free of charge.


One of the most successful marketing strategies of all time is called ‘gift with appointment.’ Today, it brings new patients into dentists’ offices, affluent investors to financial advisors’ seminars, new home buyers to developments and resort communities, and is in play in hundreds of fields, helping to create millions of sales appointments every week.

To the best of my knowledge, it came from a woman named Estee Lauder. I wonder how many people from how many different fields ignored it for how long, because: “Nothing having to do with selling lipsticks and perfumes could possibly apply to MY business. MY business is different.

The WHY PEOPLE FAIL articles are provided by Dan S. Kennedy, serial entrepreneur, from-scratch multi-millionaire, speaker, consultant, coach, author of 13 books including the No B.S. series (, and editor of The No B.S. Marketing Letter. WE HAVE ARRANGED A SPECIAL FREE GIFT FROM DAN FOR YOU including a 2-Month Free Membership in Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle, newsletters, audio CDs and more: for information and
to register, visit:



Articles © 2009/Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle LLC. All rights reserved.




masonic emblem bright colored American flag   Curt Graham, M.D.
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    E-mail = cgmdrx(at)
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