The key to building a successful, sustainable referral network is mutual respect, collaboration and communication. Consider these five actions which help you stand out from the pack.
Create a monthly blog, email or fax blast (be sensitive to the technological sophistication of these practices) on a pertinent topic. It might be an article you wrote. It might be a lecture you gave. It might be a challenging case that generated interest on the message boards that you think they would find interesting. You only need one topic per month. The key is, distribute this every month. Become their go-to MD for clinical direction and questions.
Provide “Lane Cards” with treatment indications for LASIK, ASA and Lifestyle Lenses. Refractive surgery is only one of many conditions they must be expert on, and you want to help them at the very moment they are in the lane with a patient. They don’t remember treatment indications. They don’t always remember contraindications. Lane Cards help you become the ODs best friend in a dark room.
Invite them into your office where they actually experience the consultation process, the surgery-day process and allow them to view post-op patients in person through the slit lamp. Include LASIK, ASA and Lens Implant patients, so they get the full scope of what’s possible. This is particularly useful for newer ODs who are often working in chain or discount centers and don’t yet have a lot of surgical experience. These ODs are the best new source for referrals because their patients are less likely to be wedded to glasses, and they are not yet aligned with an MD resource.
Invite 3-4 ODs to have dinner with you and discuss recent interesting cases. Bring a few cases that you want to share which showcase your expertise, and invite them to bring cases they have questions about. These do not need to be LASIK related. What you are doing is giving these ODs access to your MD experience in a collaborative environment. No presentations – just straight talk between vision professionals.
Just as you hope to set your practice apart among patients, you need to do the same with referring ODs. Host social events that convey how unique and special your practice is, which makes your special attention to their patients believable. Over the years, they have been offered a million lunches with you or your OD liaison. They’ve been invited to lots of CE programs with guest speakers and dinner. And maybe you’ve provided tickets to a baseball game for them or their families in the past. But are these unique? Do they set you apart?
Instead try events like Cirque du Soleil for the OD and family or key staff members. Invite participants to your office for an hors d’oeuvres reception beforehand. Many haven’t seen the office, which is critical to understanding your unique patient experience. Rent a large bus to transport everyone to the event, providing refreshments for the drive. Or choose an interesting concert that would appeal to a broad group. We hosted a group for a Bette Midler event, creating a CD invitation of her greatest hits. Another idea is to get more out of your summer charity golf scrambles. Select a series of 3-4 scrambles within your community and invite 3 ODs to join you at each. These five hours together create relaxed interaction and build confidence in you as a person and a surgeon.
Now read this to make sure you’re not inadvertently doing things to harm your OD relationships.