Physician Referrals: A Marketer's Goldmine

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media , April 20, 2011

"They know the name of the cardiologist who referred the patient and the name of the hospitalist who admitted the patient, but often fail to capture the name of the doctor whom the patient sees regularly," writes Barlow, principal at Barlow/McCarthy, a consulting group focused on hospital- physician solutions.

She advises that practices set up consistent measures to track PCP referrals and set achievable goals. Tracking physician referral patterns in a database can show which service lines need targeting. Just because one physician gives many referrals doesn't mean there is no more room for growth for referrals to other specialties, Barlow writes.

Barbara McLaurine, manager of physician services at Progress West HealthCare Center stresses the point of creating a "just say yes" attitude within your clinical operations team. Is it easy to do business with your hospital? If not, what are the solutions and how are they divided? These two questions are key to creating a growth mentality, she advises.

With the release of the federal accountable care organization regulations in early April, there is a new opportunity to open up communication among physicians.

"Physician relations teams are in an excellent position to be a conduit for communication to physicians about the ACO conversations at your hospital. Likewise, there is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the physician's sentiments- their concerns and plans they are formulating," Barlow says.

"Today referral development programs are working very hard to keep the competitive edge, it means attention to all the details and it means systematic and consistent results," she adds.

See also: 

ACO Proposed Rules Spotlight Physician-Hospital Alignment

Physician Alignment in an Era of Change

MD Appeals Court Upholds State's Physician Self-Referral Ban

Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at
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