Thanks for the Referrral

October 1, 2007

We would like to reward patients who send their family and friends to our practice. What are the ethical and legal implications of sending them, for example, a gift certificate to a local restaurant?

Question: We would like to reward patients who send their family and friends to our practice. What are the ethical and legal implications of sending them, for example, a gift certificate to a local restaurant?

Answer: We put this question to Lonnie Hirsch, a marketing guru with Healthcare Success Strategies. He recommends two relatively conservative approaches:

1. Simply thank patients for referrals after the fact (versus actively soliciting their referrals in exchange for a gift).

2. If you choose to give a gift, make sure it has a value of less than $100 to be consistent with the rigorous standards the pharmaceutical industry has set for itself.

Indeed, Hirsch says a thank-you call from a physician can work wonders all by itself. You might not need a cash-value gift.