Conference Roundup

How to Develop and Grow Your Referral Network

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“Communication is key to successful co-management in eye care,” explained Walter O. Whitley, OD, MBA, FAAO, director of optometric services at Virginia Eye Consultants, during  OSN New York 2018. He reviewed specific tactics and strategies. 

1.  Develop and grow your referral network by:

  • Putting patients first–always give them the final word on important choices.
  • Treating the referral source as a colleague.
  • Refusing to compete with the referral source.
  • Returning the patient to the referral source. 

2. Develop your target list; start by answering these questions:

  • Why should patients choose your practice? 
  • Why should patients be referred to you? 
  • What services do referring doctors provide that you may not? 
  • What influences referrals?

Additionally, be proactive. Follow through on conversations and be sure to ask for the business. Maintain visibility, and be willing to provide referrals yourself. 

3. Build your infrastructure:

  • Develop your support team, consisting of a practice liaison, director of optometric services, practice leadership, and the marketing team.
  • Be sure to track and manage your numbers. Know the top optometrists and ophthalmologists in your area. Conduct regular meetings to assess opportunities. 

4. Grow your referral base by communicating and marketing: 

  • Conduct personal visits periodically, by both the optometric services coordinator/director of optometric services and the surgeon. 
  • Produce an email or paper newsletter.
  • Sponsor continuing education events.
  • Conduct roundtable dinners.
  • Invite referring clinicians to visit your practice. 

Whitley W. Embezzlement: Co-management essentials to build and maintain a successful refractive cataract surgery practice. Talk presented at: OSN New York 2018; September 28-30, 2018; New York.

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