The only way for physicians to regain control of their practice and their business is to revamp how they do business. Many of the tactics are simple, but they will save some time and effort, and add to the service for your patients.
A specialty practice needs referrals, and referrals usually come from the primary care physicians. Specialty practices can help the PCPs–and themselves–by stocking the referring offices with a few items. The specialist needs certain information to see the patient–some clinical, plus a chunk of demographic information, including name, address, phone(s), insurance, and so on. The specialist can provide a stock for referral forms to referring physicians, and the patient can fill out the form while at the referring office. Fax it over, and you can input at your convenience. You can also stock a directions and contact information card to be given to the patient.
Relationships with referring practices are built on two levels — physician to physician, and staff to staff. One on level, the physicians need to take referring physicians to dinner or lunch, to get to know each other on a personal level as well as a professional level. Staff also plays a vital role. The referral is executed by the staff, so they can and will influence the relationships. Practices that are difficult to deal with will get fewer referrals, and referring staff will be less likely to help gather information and forward it. If a patient needs some kind of special consideration, whether in appointment time, same day appointment and so on, when there is a relationship they are more likely to ask.
Where there is testing or procedures involved, the specialty practice can help teach the referring staff more about what they do. The more the staff understands, the more they can anticipate questions and needs from patients and your practice. Patients often do not think of questions until after they have left the exam room, so the more the staff can handle, the more effective and efficient the day becomes.
Relationships are what business is about. One of my favorite quotes is from Andre Meyer, the late head of the Lazard Freres investment banking house. He once told his daughter, “Business – real business – isn’t about money. It’s about people. You have to know and understand people.”