Skip Navigation
April 5, 2024

Increase Patient Volume by Building a Stronger Physician Referral Network

Mike Slusarz

In today’s competitive healthcare marketplace, specialty medical practices are placing a greater emphasis on developing and implementing new marketing strategies for reaching out to, and communicating with, a network of community physicians as direct referral sources.  

By borrowing marketing, targeting, and segmentation tactics from other industries, specialty medical practices can identify key referral sources and create communication programs tailored to each unique source driving profitable revenue growth. 


Targeted Physician Outreach Program 

An innovative way to connect with existing and new physician referral sources is through a targeted physician outreach program designed to not only grow organic referrals from an existing base of physicians but also to increase new patient acquisitions through a broader network of referral sources. 

The Benefits of Implementing a Targeted Physician Outreach Program are many:  

  • Increase in new patient referrals, practice revenue, and improved patient care 
  • Referring physicians gain a better understanding of the specialty practice’s extensive expertise, and a higher level of patient satisfaction  
  • Greater connectivity with community-based physicians to facilitate personal relationships with other physicians and enhanced brand positioning for the practice  


The foundation of the physician outreach program is to align with the current marketing efforts to grow new patient volume, while focusing on these two essential steps in program development:     

  • Relationship Management – Identifying the gap in the educational and informational needs of current referral sources and to help optimize their referral decision making through expanded program awareness, outreach, and knowledge of the specialty practices services. 
  • Referral Development – Focus on creating new physician referral relationships through expanded awareness, and educational outreach to a targeted list of potential referral sources by specialty and geographical footprint.  


Performance Measures and Field Outreach Strategy      

The program launch, and how to measure the progress and success, depends on the size and capacity of your specialty practice, the number of referral network physicians you chose to track, and the overall number of resources and amount of time dedicated to the project.  

Choosing the right person who will lead the outreach program is vital to its success. You need an individual ready to devote themselves to building and maintaining strong relationships with a targeted referral network. The best way to develop the program for long-term success is through the creation of a new physician liaison position, or a dedicated individual who is already part of the team and eager to grow the practice in a part-time capacity.  


Metrics & Measurements  

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t accurately launch and measure the success without gathering pre-launch data and using the results to create dashboards and benchmarks against which future data is interpreted. 

Long-term and short-term metrics can be developed. 

Some short-term monthly metrics include: 

  • Number of physician office visits  
  • Percentage of scheduled office visits  
  • Targeted emails and calls 
  • Face-to-face physician meetings  
  • Education programs delivered 

Some long-term metricsinclude: 

  • Overall referral volume growth as a percent of new patients  
  • Volume growth by individual referral source 
  • Patient revenue by referral source 
  • Return on investment of marketing dollars compared to patient revenue 


Keys to a lucrative Physician Referral Relationship 

The creation of a physician outreach program presents a unique opportunity for specialty practices who depend on other physicians for new patients. The ability to market their expertise directly to a receptive group of physicians, that can contribute to the practice’s success through new patient volume, profitable revenue growth, broader brand equity and enhanced market share. 


In our next blog we will dive into how to target practices with the most referral potential, sharing a real-life example of this program through a successful orthopedic practice case study. 

Next Steps

Learn how we can elevate your medical practice with our Free Action Plan.

Mike Slusarz
Follow Mike Slusarz

Mike Slusarz is a seasoned healthcare marketing professional with 30+ years expertise in brand management, strategic planning, digital marketing, physician relations and corporate communications. As former VP of Marketing & Brand Strategy at Barnabas Health for 25+ years, leading the marketing operations for seven acute care hospitals, three cardiac surgery centers, four of NJ’s largest teaching hospitals and over 700 medical practices.

Mike’s leadership spans Cape Regional Health System, PRISM Vision Group, and the Marathon Group, his award-winning agency. A former President of the Health Care Planning & Marketing Society of New Jersey, he also teaches at Temple University.

Read More