Web Site As a Referral Source

November 11, 2010

The almighty doctor’s referral is losing steam. Most patients now view the doctor's referral as a mere suggestion of another physician they can see. As a retina specialist, most of my patients are sent by referral. Because of my Web site, I am getting more and more referrals.

The almighty doctor’s referral is losing steam. Most patients now view the doctor's referral as a mere suggestion of another physician they can see. As a retina specialist, most of my patients are sent by referral. Because of my Web site, I am getting more and more referrals.

There can be several reasons for this behavior. The most obvious is insurance participation. I may participate in more insurance plans than another retina specialist, but I haven’t changed my participation in plans in more than five years. Perhaps the doctors themselves are noticing me on the Web? Doubtful.

Or, it may be my Web site. I have great rankings for my Web site for my specialty, especially locally. When patients search for a retina specialist, my name is unavoidable. All due to high rankings of my sites.

Patients have become more discerning and go to the Internet to check out the docs before making a decision. Their primary source for health information is the Internet. While my referring docs may give them my name, a Google search is likely to be performed before actually making an appointment. It is reassuring for patients to see me online, even after their doctor has referred them.

While I do track most sources of referrals, there are those that escape our detection. Certainly we have direct referrals from the Web, those patients who are looking for a retinal specialist and find me only due to the Web page and its rankings.

The ones who escape our detection are those patients where I am referred as a potential specialist, validated on the Internet by searching my name and then make an appointment. More and more, patients won’t bother making an appointment with a doctor who has no Web presence.

More and more, the Internet is becoming the primary referral source. Just another reason to start looking at the Web in your marketing strategy.