Increasing Physician Referrals - Marketing for Your Sleep Center Practice

If you are operating like most Sleep Centers, referrals from physicians are a good part of your bread and butter. According to a recent survey, more than 50% of patient referrals to independent sleep centers come from Primary Care Physicians (PCP). With growing public awareness of sleep disorders, and especially sleep apnea, PCPs are the group that will see most of these patients, especially those whose chief complaint is difficulty breathing.

 

Building positive relationships with referring physicians can be as important to a successful sleep center practice, as is cementing those same kinds of relationships with your patients. The challenge is how to do that in a way that suits the best interests of your practice, the referring physician’s practice, and all of the patients involved.   

 

In the highly competitive arena of the sleep industry, marketing and branding are not only critical to helping your business stand above the competition, a properly crafted message can help you to attract more referrals. Marketing to referring physicians is the same thing as marketing to any other target, you must understand what their main concerns are, and offer solutions for them.

 

Understand that for any referring physicians, making referrals is both a clinical and a business decision. Before they refer a patient to your sleep center, one of their first concerns is whether your center will take proper care of their patients and provide adequate support before, during, and after therapy.

 

When marketing to potential referral sources, you need to show them that you are a leader in core competencies of patient care, education, practice management and follow-up.  You need to show them that you are not only a leader in the field, but also a force for education and an advocate for changing perceptions about sleep disorders. Clearly designing a message that says you are putting patient needs first, and clearly articulating for the referring physician the benefits that result from diagnosis and treatment at your center, will encourage PCPs to see you as an ally in their efforts regarding care for their patients with sleep disorders.


Gain an Edge

Developing a strong message and a better-focused marketing plan towards referring physicians is the first step. Then how do you get the word out there? All the traditional marketing efforts are important, up to and including face-to-face meetings with area physicians. However, you also need to leverage the power of new and emerging media such as social networking. If your sleep center business does not have a presence on Facebook, or one of the other large social network aggregators, you need to get one.

 

The digital age is here, and social network marketing is critical to creating a brand identity, building communities, and maintaining communication with clients. The corporate world is recognizing this, as every major brand has a Facebook page where it can reach out to its community of loyal followers.

 

The same technology that can be used to update interested consumers on the latest products from NIKE, Lexus or Honda – can and should also be used to keep your potential patients and referring physicians abreast of vital sleep related health information, and updates about your facilities and the services you offer.

 

Social media marketing goes hand and hand with your website to establish an overall web presence. Your center needs to have a well-designed, easy to navigate and informative Website. Did you know that more than 90 percent of physicians say they use the internet for information?  Your website is a great place to establish your Center’s brand identity and  also build relationships with potential patients, as well as referral sources. Your website should also be a place where current patients and referring physicians can get immediate and simple online assistance.  

Attracting more referrals doesn’t stop with better-focused and more creative marketing efforts. You can’t expect to build your business without having the right tools.

Get More from Your Management Solution

Attracting more referrals and keeping your referral network active and happy can best be accomplished by working with a sleep lab management solutions provider that intimately knows the business of sleep such as Indigo Arc.

 

Indigo Arc's Sleep Lab Management (SLaM) platform is an all-in-one solution that has been designed by sleep professionals for sleep professionals, that integrates sleep study analysis, and all aspects of practice management, including workflow, and electronic medical records management. It is one of the only turnkey solutions that can be delivered to you as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution deployed in the Cloud. That means no need for you to invest in servers, or costly IT infrastructure, or even software licenses – you merely pay for the services you use. 

 

The SLaM platform is safe and secure, and shares patient study information with the referring physician through a Referring Physician's Portal as the sleep study progresses. SLaM  provides all of the advantages of a cloud based system. It reduces staff labor, paperwork, and analysis turnaround time. Its unique feature set also enhances your marketing efforts with an integrated referring physician database, as well as providing you with marketing reports and outlooks, and real time notifications, alerts and reminders.


A Final Point

Lack of sleep is recognized as a growing concern among individuals, businesses, government agencies, and the healthcare community. The demand for Sleep Centers is growing – as is the competition.

 

Rethinking your marketing efforts, making sure your centers are equipped with the state-of-the art tools, and partnering with the right software provider are all important to stand apart from your competitors.  But, one final point. None of those elements will work on their own to build your business and bring in more referrals – they must be integrated together, and that means someone needs to focus his or her attention on coordinating your staff and your resources to grow your sleep services to attract more patients and referrals.

 

This point person must be a motivator, someone willing to not be happy with things as they are, but to be continuously focused on gaining new sleep patients and referrals through excellent customer service, and community outreach.  With the right resources at his or her disposal, and such a team leader, you will attract more sleep patients and increase referrals.


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