How Physician Referral Networks Improve Communications Between Doctors
POST-PANDEMIC ONLINE NETWORKING
If you live anywhere in the world in the post COVID-19 pandemic era and you are not already participating in an online social or professional networking platform… then you are the exception to an increasingly common rule. And – more importantly – you are likely missing important opportunities to benefit your patients and grow your practice.
The COVID-19 pandemic was not only a test of our will and preparedness as a society to survive an attack by a virus well down the food chain from humans. In this instance, it was also an accelerator of our ability to communicate, socialize, provide services, and do business remotely or by “social distancing.” It was a test of our digital transformation as a society, and the medical industry was no exception.
Imagine Your New Online Referral Network
Congratulations! Let’s say you have decided to take that leap into the wave of digital transformation. The 21st century brought us the internet, social media, cloud computing and the electronic medical records now residing mostly in the cloud. Why should you be left behind?
Supplement Your Existing Referral Networking
An important part of making the most of technology’s transformation of healthcare is to harness it to expand your professional network and your practice. Now that you have taken that first major step in joining an online referral network, the question becomes: How do you make the most of it? The answer comes in two parts: integrating virtual networking into your existing referral system and adding new features and benefits that online networking has over in-person network-building.
Effective referral networking begins with a commitment to effective communication. Technology alone, no matter how advanced, cannot substitute for taking the initiative to reach out to others, getting to know them and what they do, and building professional relationships. The activities you would normally do to build your referral network – like making phone calls, going to, and holding open houses, attending professional association conventions and meetings – never become obsolete. However, with online tools we can begin to engage and develop those in-person encounters after leaving the dinner table.
A Force Multiplier for Your Referral Networking
In traditional referral network building, one of your biggest limitations is physical: it is you yourself. You can only be in one place at one time to interact in person. Effective referral networking includes using all the means available, including virtual means, to make quality referral connections. A well-designed online referral network that opens doors to connections with thousands of relevant specialists and other providers is an effective way to multiply your referral marketing efforts.
Making More of Your In-Person Networking
Online referral networking complements these legacy communication methods by enabling you to make them electronically. But they also do more. Advanced online referral networks let you maintain your network while trackingyour referral sources and identifying patterns in who is referring patients to you and how often. When changes to these patterns happen, such as a decrease in referrals from a specific physician, data analysis tools help you take timely action to address the situation where you may not have noticed the change in otherwise.
Adding New Capabilities to Your Referral Networking
One of the most common inefficiencies in traditional referral networks is related to the limitations of in-person networking: over-reliance on a small, trusted circle, hoping that known referral partners can handle patient referrals they are not well suited for because there is no other more qualified specialist in the network. If you seek to include more kinds of specialists in your network, like physical or occupational therapists, nutritionists, or chiropractors, finding them and cultivating professional relations with them on your own can be daunting or even unrealistic.
Online Networking as a Boost to Your Traditional Networking
Fortunately, online referral networks like the MedMatch Network are multipliers of your traditional networking. It is the old saying that “The friends of my friend are my friends.” That said, you can find almost any information on any one or any organization online to help you decide if you would like to invite them to your network.
When your referral network is broad enough to allow you to match patients with the right specialists every time, your patient quality of care improves. Better health outcomes mean more satisfied patients, and patient word of mouth remains one of your most important sources of quality referrals.
Referrals You and Your Patients Can Trust
A robust online network should provide unbiased feedback on the members of the network. Such feedback should be averaged over time to give a true objective evaluation and not a “time-stamp” rating that can be subjective.
- The wave of digital technologies sweeping across the various industries encompasses all aspects of healthcare, and they are here to stay as we evolve towards cloud computing and remote applications. Medicine is no exception.
- The MedMatch Network is built by doctors with a clear understanding that technology should innovate existing and proven principles of care and not replace them. The onboarding process encourages connections with existing contacts with gradual integration of well vetted new ones. The unique MedMatch performance rating ensures that only providers dedicated to the highest standard of care participate in the network.