You know how you have stacks of referral cards for specialists at your front desk? When you send a patient to your favorite endodontist because you don’t feel like trying to instrument a buccal-inclined maxillary second molar on a gagger with limited opening, it sure comes in handy to check off a few boxes on a card and write a little love note (e.g. “Dear Dr. Endodontist: Good freaking luck!”).
But one of the real advantages of the card is that it gives something tangible to the patient and raises the chances that they will follow through with making an appointment. I’ve always wondered why general dentists don’t have referral cards for their practices?
You see, I love referring out treatment to specialists because I’ve found ones that will send me back new patients. It takes time to develop that relationship because its very different from the traditional one. The usual referral pattern is that GPs send specialists all the stuff they don’t want to do and then the specialist takes them out to dinner now and then. The newer approach is based on GPs and specialists playing on an even field; let’s send each other patients and take turns buying dinner for each other. This dynamic has grown my practice significantly.
I’ll talk more about how this new relationship works in a future post, but for now I’m sure most of you are on board with the concept that specialists can be a great, untapped source of new patients for your practice. So a great way to keep your office fresh in their minds and strengthen the referral channel is to do what specialists have been doing for decades: make your own referral cards. Here’s what mine look like:
I have a sleek, modern design that fits the branding of my office. I list procedures like TMD and sleep apnea to drive home the idea that I am happily treating these cases. The map is prominent to highlight the convenience of my office location. My office hours are clearly visible. I removed unnecessary clutter like a tooth chart to keep things simple and easily readable.
Please don’t try to do this yourself; spend a few bucks and hire a professional graphic designer (I use CBonnanoDesigns). You’re making an impression on your specialist team and on potential patients, so don’t just slap something together in Microsoft Paint, for heaven’s sake.