Using Referral Data to Drive New Practice Growth

Last week I wrote about the importance of ongoing follow up activities for provider-to-provider outreach that could be completed by the new provider, their office manager or the outreach coordinator. In response, several of you asked me about what types of referral data I have access to and how I might review and prioritize opportunities for follow up.

 

How Is the Referral Data Being Collected?

What referral data you have access to, and how often you get it, can vary widely from one opportunity to the next. When meeting with the provider to develop a new practice development plan, I often ask about the EHR system they are using to capture patient data and how referring physician data is captured. I also ask for sample copies of any canned referral reports or the ability to create a monthly referral extract if a canned report isn’t available.

When this data isn’t readily captured or reportable, I have been known to occasionally request an office team member to help me keep an old-fashioned referral log in Excel for the first 6-12 months, so I am able to get a sense of how our plan is progressing over the first year.

 

5 Key Things to Look for

No matter the format, one of the first things I do when I get my hands on a post-outreach referral report is look for the date a prospect receives his/her first referral and compare this to when a first outreach visit was made. This helps me understand how many of the first referrals are tied to the outreach campaign I am leading.

Scout analytics First Referrals report

In this review, I also like to look at the total number of outreach visits made—which can help me understand which prospects may need multiple visits to get to know a referral partner before trusting a patient in their care.

Are there providers that have made multiple referrals after a single visit? If so, we likely met a need for this practice and should look for ways to nurture and support that emerging partnership.

Are there first-time referrals that do not lead to a repeat referral within 30-60 days (depending on prospect and new provider specialty)? If so, can you use this data to create a list of providers to revisit, with the goal of learning more about any reservations or barriers that may need to be addressed.

Are there any meetings that didn’t lead to a first referral? These individuals may represent an additional opportunity to learn more about reservations or barriers to sharing patients with the new provider.

For example, are there skill gaps or an unmet need from their perspective? If yes, take this information back to the practice, and make plans to circle back if, and when, those gaps are filled.

Even when the response is positive (i.e. they just haven’t had a patient that fits the need yet), I tend to ask if I can follow up in a few months to see how the referral process is going—especially if my new provider is joining a new vs. established practice. This way I can help their team uncover and address any service or access issues before referrals potentially plateau.

 

How to Nurture Indirect Referrals

Last, but not least, I like to make a note of any first referrals my new provider received without an introductory visit. I may not be able to take credit for that referral. But I can meet with these emerging prospects to better understand what motivated the initial referral and how I can help further initiate a relationship.

Below are some questions I typically ask emerging prospects after thanking them on my new provider’s behalf:

  • I haven’t had a chance to bring [new provider] by to meet you yet. How did you hear about his/her new practice?
  • I understand [as pulled from field intelligence/network connections data] that you often share patients with Drs. X & Y. What made you decide to send this patient to [new provider]?
  • Are there any other patients you see that might benefit from seeing [new provider] in the future?
  • [If yes] He/she wants to stop by and thank you personally for trusting [patient] in his/her care. Would you have a few minutes you could carve out later this month to meet him/her?
  • Is there anything that [new provider] needs to know about your patients or preferences if she/he wants to earn your trust as a preferred partner?

 

Why a Data-Enabled Approach Helps Outreach

All of these activities ensured I was using a data-enabled approach to help my new provider nurture new connections and grow his/her business.

To further illustrate this point, I would often provide my new provider a quarterly ROV (return on visit) analysis to demonstrate the estimated impact of these activities on the new practice. The example below is based on the quarterly gain in new patients, multiplied by the average value of a new patient (per the office manager).

Liaison Activity Volume Impact Estimated Impact on Bottom Line
Outreach/service recovery visits to providers with substantial variances 6 $54,000
Outreach visits following first referral to secure second referral 12 $36,000
Outreach visits to secure first time referrals 30 $90,000
  48 $180,000

Actively reviewing referral data for a new provider helps me use a data-enabled approach when supporting and growing his/her business.

What are some of the ways you and your team are using referral logs or reports to help prioritize and optimize your outreach follow up? And how are you sharing these results with your providers and/or leadership teams? Let’s continue the discussion!