E-mailing Your Referring Network and Physicians

January 20, 2011

The businessperson of today builds and maintains relationships through the Internet using social media. We’ve been building relationships for years. Take the time to reach out and say hello. The more information your referring docs have about you, personal and otherwise, the more they’ll talk you up to patients.

Do you email your referring docs? You should. In my last post, I encouraged the use of e-mail as a means of making the “business” end of patient care more efficient and convenient. For similar reasons, take advantage of e-mail, newsletters, and other electronic media to keep your referral base up to date with you and your awesome practice!

Remember when you started private practice? Remember the days of cold-calling on potential referring docs and taking them out to lunch? It took time, but it was an effective way of meeting your colleagues. You took the time to initiate a relationship and in many cases it proved fruitful.

As you got busier, you lost the time to foster and nurture these relationships, but can you really afford to ignore your referring network? Driving around town is not time efficient when maintaining a busy practice and, let’s face it, how many lunches can you really afford to eat?

E-mail is a great solution. Take the time to say hello or thank them for a referral. It’s also a great way to let them know that you just referred them a patient, too. Be careful -don’t go into details that could violate HIPAA compliance, but speak in general terms. It is really the thought that counts and the thought that will be remembered.

For example:

“I had the pleasure of seeing one of your patients today. He does have a retinal detachment, but I’ll think he’ll do well. Consultation letter forthcoming. -- RVW”

or

“I saw a patient today and immediately thought of you. I asked him to see you in the next two weeks. Expect a detailed note in the mail. --Randy”

It’s HIPAA-safe, says hello, and let’s your doc know your thinking of him.

Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable with e-mail. I’d certainly recommend a periodic electronic newsletter, specifically aimed at your referring network. It would be more clinical than a newsletter to your patient base, discussing your new diagnostic equipment, latest treatment interests, thoughts about new drugs, etc. You’d be surprised how little your referring base really knows about what you do. They don’t really know unless you tell them.

E-mailed newsletters are more practical than print for announcing new practice colleagues. They can be opened at the convenience of the recipient and less likely to be thrown in the trash. And, you can resend the announcement, too. It’s cost effective, convenient and "green."

A video clip of your new office, staff interviews (Hi, I’m Randy and I schedule surgery for …), or of your new colleague would set you apart from any of your competition. These days a hand-help “Flip” camera will do the job. Uploading to YouTube is a cinch (or ask your kids to do it for you).

My point is that you shouldn’t ignore those relationships that built your practice. You have less time than a few years ago, but be creative and use the technology you have at hand...e-mail is still very powerful. It will distinguish you from your peers.

The businessperson of today builds and maintains relationships through the Internet using social media. We’ve been building relationships for years. Take the time to reach out and say hello. The more information your referring docs have about you, personal and otherwise, the more they’ll talk you up to patients.

It is the basic tenet of social media.

This is part two of a series. Next week: Email: Avoiding HIPAA Pitfalls,