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Reimbursement and Practice Management

When Referral Networking Works

Recently several specialty physicians and practice leaders asked whether referral networking with other providers at local medical education or fundraising events makes sense. Done right, networking can be a good way to garner new referrals and may lead to improved patient access to each of your groups.

If you want to network, you’ll need to get out of the clinic and invest the time to attend networking events. The following networking tips can help build the foundation for enduring relationships.

  • Be selective – know the intended audience and the potential for long-term referral relations. (e.g. Will the attendees be primary care or subspecialty providers from your targeted geography?)
  • Be humble. Ask questions. Learn what you can by asking simple genuine questions related to your group (e.g. Have the new NPP’s in your group been able to touch base with our NPP’s related to the new training they attended last month?)
  • Be open to feedback. Listen intently. Find out how you’re doing by asking specific questions (e.g. How long does it take before a referral gets seen by our group? Is that too long? Does your staff or do your patients think our front desk staff help patients feel welcomed at our clinic? Is our staff friendly?). Take it all in as constructive feedback and resist the temptation to make excuses.
  • Put on the happy face. Your laugh or simply a smile puts you – and others – at ease.
  • Take the high road. Don’t gossip even if others are tempted to do so.
  • Speak to your strengths. Let them know your clinical passions and strengths (e.g. exploring the frontiers of functional brain modulation).
  • Be gracious. Thank them for the conversation and let them know you look forward to the next opportunity.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do! Follow-up with any action items that were mentioned in your conversations.

It might take a little work to get out of the office; yet networking can bring long-term benefits if done with a sincere desire to help get the right patients to the right provider for the right therapy at the right time.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

United States