On today’s show Daniel enlists the help of Kirstin Moran to break down the fundamentals of creating your very own Physician Referral Campaign. It is one of the most requested topics by listeners on Reach!
Read the transcript:
DAN: On today’s Reach, we’re going to be talking about one of the most requested topics that you’ve asked us to cover on the show, how to build a physician referral program. That’s why we’re very excited to bring Kirstin Moran, our physician outreach guru here at Audigy.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Hi. My name is Kirstin Moran. And I’m the marketing manager here. And my nickname is KMO.
DAN: Hey, Kirstin. How you doing today?
KIRSTIN MORAN: I’m good. How are you?
DAN: Good, thanks. I really appreciate you taking some time to come in and talk with us on Reach about physician referrals. A little bit of background, as I understand, you are part of a team that actually heads up the overall strategy for our company with regards to physician referrals. Is that accurate?
KIRSTIN MORAN: That is true. All of the marketing managers have what we call captain ships. And so the physician outreach is one of my captain ships to just make sure we’re pulling and streamlining all of our best practices and supporting things like this to get the information out there and educate as much as possible.
DAN: So you’re clearly the expert on this. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love doing it?
KIRSTIN MORAN: Is that a trick question?
DAN: It is a trick question. So we’ll just go by it. So in prepping for the show, we were talking about you get a lot of questions about or concerns about this process, which makes sense. It’s time consuming. And to me, as a non physician, it’s daunting. Can you tell me what is the number one question or concern that you hear when people are talking about physician referrals as part of their marketing program?
KIRSTIN MORAN: Hands down, the biggest objection or concern from a member or a business owner standpoint is time. I think we can all relate to that. There’s only so many hours in the day. And something like this can be so overwhelming to try to put together and think through giving up time with your patient to go do something like this. And so that is definitely the number one thing that we hear as marketing managers.
DAN: If you were going to start this, I would imagine you have to start by compiling a list of physicians that you wanted to connect with. You’d have to figure out your overall strategy about not only how you wanted to connect with them, but what you could offer to them in terms of your service. And then you have to do some follow up too, which that sounds like weeks or months of work really. So is that what people tend to think of? And how accurate is that?
KIRSTIN MORAN: And I would say that that’s true. But I think before we can even talk about the logistics part, we have to actually back up and figure out how serious are you really about doing something like this? And why would you want to do something like this? And for me, it’s more of what are you willing to trade? And how much do you really need this new business coming in? Clearly, you felt a sense of urgency about doing this. So let’s talk about that and identify that why, because that’s what’s really going to motivate them to implement.
And so talking through the time piece, because the logistics part is the logistics part. We can go to the execution first easily. But if we don’t have the why and the value set up, then it’s never going to be executed. So we have to have that real conversation with them and ask them the hard questions to get to that point to know how serious they are about it. And then we ask what are you willing to trade in your time in order to be consistent with it, because the consistency is what is the key with this program.
DAN: I love this. I love the goal setting aspect of this first, because that should come at the start of any marketing strategy. So give me an idea of some of the reasons that an audiologist or an EMT might want to do this. What does their profile look like?
KIRSTIN MORAN: Well, I think the biggest thing is looking at just your grassroots outreach in general. When you’re doing grassroots, you’re reaching out to the community. And the physicians are your peers. You want to educate them. And I think one of the scariest statistics is that 73% of the US population asked their primary care physician about hearing loss. Yet only 13% to 15% of the primary care physicians actually test those patients. So knowing that, and that gives you a clear door to go in and talk to them, educate them, about who you are and what you can do to help.
DAN: Yeah, that sounds like that’s missing out a whole– well, don’t ask me to do math here live. But you’re missing out on more than 50% of your opportunities there.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Absolutely.
DAN: That could be coming in that you just have to ask them. So really, this is for anyone who feels the urge that they want to get more clients into or more patients into their door. And these are people who are already ready to be seen about these exact same things.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Absolutely. And you have to think about it as an extension of your brand too and building that community awareness and all of those things that are packaged into that. And we also try to look at a clear return on investment for the actual practice itself and plug-in numbers. We have sort of a formula that we’ve put together that showcases it’s not just the physician outreach person who’s responsible. But if you plug-in the ER of that provider and the ASP of the practice, that has a clear effect on how those people coming in the door can be converted.
ER is just a numerical formation that we put together to help us identify a percentage of a conversion from a new patient to an actual existing patient. So those numbers help us actually, in the context of the physician program, they help us put together a revenue dollar figure for how much potential is there with this program for that practice.
DAN: That sounds exactly like an effectiveness ratio. So once you’ve projected what your ROI is going to be based off of these kinds of practices, how long does it usually take to see results? I know people always want to ask that question. It’s usually a sticky answer or varies from person to person. But do you have anything that you can say to that?
KIRSTIN MORAN: Sure, and I think it’s a valid question, because they’re concerned about their time. I have put this time into it. What am I going to expect in return? And I think for us, it’s just another reminder of you’re building people relationships. And that takes time. So you’re trading off a high dollar marketing tactic for a high time tactic. And so you are investing in your time rather than your dollars here. So if we just go off of what the pharmaceutical business sees, they usually see about five to six connection points with a new contact before they actually see any kind of referrals or response off of it. And we found that to be pretty true with our members as well.
And I also want to clarify too that you are looking at your physician base in segments as well, because you should have existing patient– I’m sorry, existing physicians referring to you. And so that’s a separate outreach. That’s a separate message to them. That’s a thank you message, we’re so happy that we have this partnership with you, versus a new physician coming where it is going to take that five to six touch points before you’re going to see that result. So it’s a different message and it’s a different mindset.
And then you also have the specialties, the cardio doctors and those types of doctors where you’re reaching out to as well. And so in the strategy part you want to think about who your audience is when you’re reaching out.
DAN PARSCALE: This is probably going to be a long play. It’s not going to be you’re going to walk out your door one day and come back in and your front office staff is going to be flooded with new patients, for instance. But the return on investment does accumulate over time because you developed relationships. And then you’re starting new funnels and new channels to get new patients in the door.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Absolutely.
DAN PARSCALE: How expensive is this process actually going to be?
KIRSTIN MORAN: Yeah, I mean, we’re trading time for cost. What are the hard costs? And I mean, really it is up to the practice for how much money they want to invest in it. I mean, the hard costs boil down to gas going out there for the person who’s doing the execution, and what kinds of things they’re bringing. So if it’s practice collateral or a specific collateral for a physician, then you’re making the investment in that collateral, which you can use for other marketing tactics as well. So that should be helpful.
And then if you’re bringing gifts or thank yous of some kind, tangible, then you’re investing in that. And I usually budget about $150 to $200 a month for my members for this tactic.
DAN PARSCALE: It sounds like large or small practices could afford to do this. Could you talk a little bit about what they would actually need to do to execute? So for instance, how do they decide which physicians they should be targeting to make these relationships? Once they found them, what specifically should they be doing?
KIRSTIN MORAN: It is very doable, no matter what size of practice you are. And that’s definitely one of the things that I hear from my smaller practices. But it’s not about the quantity of physicians that you’re reaching out to, it’s really about that consistency and making sure you are building that into your schedule. So that is sort of the starting point on the execution and is making sure that you’re block scheduling these things out, no matter what size you are, and that you have a dedicated person going out there to do that.
And I recommend spending as much time up front organizing and being strategic as possible, because that just makes the execution more manageable and easier. So for us, organizing starts with the list, right? You’ve mentioned that several times. And we talked about segmenting your physician database. So you’re looking at who are your existing physicians, who are your new physicians that you’re targeting, and who are those specialties?
And what we recommend is plotting it out on a map, doing a radius around your practice, and then drawing it into quadrants, and then targeting it that way so that you’re maximizing your time when you’re going out there and you’re saving on your gas. So you’re still being efficient with your costs. And if you only have an hour, then you’re hitting up five physicians in one area as opposed to driving into separate zip codes.
DAN PARSCALE: How do you recommend actually finding the practices and physicians that we want to refer to?
KIRSTIN MORAN: The best place to start is your own database, pulling your existing physician list from your database, and then doing the Google search. There are a couple books available. One is called thebluebook.com and the other one is called theyellowbook.com. It’s not something that’s available in every market, but it is in most markets. So I would recommend that the owner see if it is available. And it’s just basically a list of the primary care physicians and everyone else that they can go to. It has all of the contact information and the phone numbers and everything.
DAN PARSCALE: So you just go down that, you add it to an Excel sheet. And you say it falls into this quadrant, and so this is what I’m going to be working on today.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Yep, you can sort it by the zip code and plot them out and head on out.
DAN PARSCALE: Great. OK, so you’ve got your physician list. What is the next step now that you know who you’re going to target?
KIRSTIN MORAN: So you definitely want to have your collateral available. Our members tend to put them in a nice little folder that has the practice information in on them and some kind of educational study that ties in hearing loss of some kind. And that in and of itself is a whole strategy. We call it our educational co-morbidity strategy, and we have a lot of these white sheets available to our members to use. They’re pretty common out there. Even if you’re not a member, you can find them out on the internet and include them in.
And I think it’s easy to go in and do a drive by and drop off the folder. But we really coach to having a nice two minute practice spiel where you’re really tying in that comorbidity message in and answering the question of why they would want to open this information, what does it mean for them, and highlighting that. And so in your two minute spiel you’re talking about your practice, but you’re also–
DAN PARSCALE: You’re talking about their practice as well.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Yeah.
DAN PARSCALE: You’re forming a bond because you’re saying your patients that you’re seeing have this condition, and it links to what I do because of this co-morbidity link.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Absolutely. And we do recommend starting with a phone call for those new physicians when you’re reaching out to them as the gatekeeper to just introduce the practice to their front office staff, find out when a good time is for that person to drop off those packets of information. And again, we have scripts available for that on the coaching end if our members need them. And they’re just doing some detective work and finding out what the practice needs and introducing the practice again and finding a time when that person can drop off the information.
And really it’s honoring that time. So the person who’s going out there to introduce the practice is going at that specific time. And it’s truly, how can you get in, be efficient, say what you need to say, and be mindful of their time, and get out.
DAN PARSCALE: What’s going through the physician’s head when they’re receiving these visits or these calls? What are some tips that you would give for connecting with them to really build that connection? What’s in it for them I guess is the question?
KIRSTIN MORAN: I think that’s a great thing because we get so focused on what we can do that we really have to think about how we’re connecting that message to them. And we have to remember, I mean, they’re busy. They’re like you. They’re busy. They have assigned the front office staff to be the gatekeeper. And they are very good at it. They’re not going to let anybody in who they feel like is going to waste the physician’s time. And there’s a lot of people vying for their time beyond just the patient.
So we recommend actually doing your research. Find out about that particular practice. What are the main patients that they treat so you can tie-in specifically what you do with what they’re offering? And know your competition too. Know what other people are offering so you can differentiate yourself with them as well. And the more educated you come in, I think the better that you look, because everybody values education in this field. And you’re also wanting to find out who are the office managers, who are the patient referral corners, who are the nurse practitioners? Because those three are going to be beyond the front office staff. They’re going to be the key people who are going to actually refer. So you want to build relationships with them.
DAN PARSCALE: Since you’re talking about these relationships, I imagine that it also helps them to build their relationships too. I mean, we talked about co-morbidities a minute ago, and I would imagine that if I went to a doctor and they said, you have this condition and you may want to be concerned about your hearing for this because of this link, that adds some extra goodwill to them as well. So they’re seen as not only a greater expert, but a more caring expert also. So there’s an added benefit to them that you also experience.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Yeah, absolutely. You’re making them look good with their patient and you’re showing that you have a common interest in helping that patient.
DAN PARSCALE: So if you could tell me a little bit more about how we could maintain consistency between the physician outreach portion of your marketing strategy and the rest of your marketing strategy? Is there a way that you can use, for instance, the co-morbidities white sheets that you might be bringing for education on other platforms? Can you use other platforms’ information as part of this? How do those interweave with each other?
KIRSTIN MORAN: I love that question, because as a marketing manager, what I try to do is recommend that our members think in the context of a content calendar. And that’s one of the strategies that we have with this program is that we recommend building out a two year content calendar where you’re talking about one topic for three months. And that’s really easy to tie-in with the other marketing messages that you have out there. So you can use the comorbidity study of diabetes and hearing loss with all of your digital stuff. You can build an infographic. You can write a blog. You can put that infographic in your newspaper ad or use it in a news insert. And that’s all going to build credibility and consistency with your brand.
DAN PARSCALE: It will probably also take time away– well, it will reduce the amount of time that you need to come up with new ideas too.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Absolutely.
DAN PARSCALE: I would bet too– tell me if you think so too– that if you get a better return from certain kinds of this information, like if you get a lot of referrals based off of a particularly co-morbidity issue for instance that might have more presence in your local community and that may be good web content because people might be searching.
KIRSTIN MORAN: Absolutely. And that’s right on. And that gives you, hey, maybe I need to reach out to this specialty more with this information on the next round of things. So its definitely helpful to track all of that and know what messages are resonating.
DAN PARSCALE: So we’ve covered this from start to finish. We know that it’s possible. We know how to do it. We know a little bit about the results that you can potentially get. Could you maybe just wrap up all of that into your top three takeaways for our listeners today?
KIRSTIN MORAN: If there’s anything that I want the audience to hear today, it would be, A, that it’s doable. No matter what size of practice you are, you can do it. You can formulate this to your time and build a strategy that fits you around this topic.
B, invest the time to organize yourself and strategize. The more that you invest in the strategy and spend the time doing that, the easier you’re making it on yourself and the execution. And you just know what to do.
And then thirdly, we talked about what to expect when you go out there. And we do have a full strategy. I mean unfortunately there’s not enough time to go through all of the steps from start to finish. So if you are an Audigy practice, you can reach out to your marketing manager to get that information from start to finish.
DAN PARSCALE: So thanks KMo for being on the show with us today. We’ve learned a lot about physician referrals. And I appreciate your expertise on the show.
KIRSTIN MORAN: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
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