Patient referrals are one of the best ways to attract new patients. Learn how Dentrix makes it easy to record, track, and reward referrals from patients.
When you need a good auto mechanic, do you choose one based on an advertisement, or do you prefer to ask family and friends who they go to? If you’re like me, you do the latter. When most people need professional services of any type, they will do a little research and then ask others who they recommend. They’ll ask about the quality of service they’ve received in the past and how they were treated as a customer. This type of personal information is valuable when choosing any professional–including a dentist. That’s why experts agree that developing an effective referral strategy is one of the best ways to attract new patients to your practice.
Existing patients are the best source of referrals. Amy Morgan, CEO of Pride Institute, recommends that 60—80 percent of all new patient referrals come from satisfied patients of record. The key is getting satisfied patients to give referrals. Most patients won’t even think about it unless you ask, so you have to be proactive in asking patients for referrals.
Many offices request referrals during patient checkout or include referral requests in a post-visit satisfaction survey. You might begin by saying something like: “If you’re happy with the dental care we’ve provided you, please feel free to recommend us to your friends and family.” You can then request a name, phone number, and any additional helpful information. You can also mention your office’s referral rewards program, if you have one, to encourage people to make referrals.
Because it’s so important for you to get referrals from patients and track them, Dentrix has several tools, reports, and resources to help you. You can add and manage referral information, give appreciation and rewards to patients who provide patient referrals, and analyze referral statistics in Dentrix.
Adding and Managing Patient Referrals in Dentrix
Recording referrals in Dentrix helps you track patients who repeatedly give referrals so you can send thank-you messages. It also helps you monitor the effectiveness of your advertising and how many people are providing referrals with their surveys.
In the Family File, you can enter information about who referred each patient. To add referral information, open the Family File record for the patient who was referred to your practice and double-click the Referred By block. The Dentrix Patient Referrals dialog box appears.
In the Referred By section, click Add Referral. In the Select Referral Type dialog box, select Patient and click OK. In the Select Patient dialog box, select the person who referred the current patient and click OK. The referring patient now appears in the Dentrix Patient Referrals dialog box.
Once a referral has been added to the Dentrix Patient Referrals dialog box, the Analysis button becomes available. Click Analysis to display the Referral Analysis dialog box.
After a patient has provided multiple referrals, you can specify a Referral Date Span and Production Date Span to look at referrals from that patient that fall within the dates you specify. You can view the number of referrals from that patient and the production that has resulted from those referrals. You can also send a thank-you email message, add notes, record an entry in the Office Journal, and record and track gratuities.
Rewarding Patients for Referrals
Giving gratuities is a great way to say thank you to patients who provide referrals–and it can also encourage additional referrals. Helen H. Cohen, a dental office manager and dental coach in Kansas City, Missouri, says, “Referrals from patients need to be rewarded. Use your dental software to monitor all patient referrals weekly, monthly, and annually by source…. Establish a referral reward system for each time your patients send you their first, second, and third referrals. A simple handwritten thank you note is a very genuine, remembered, and cost effective first step. From there, you may elect to give gift cards for restaurant meals, movies, coffee houses and more.”
To send a simple thank you for a patient referral, or to include a thank-you letter along with some form of gratuity (such as movie tickets or a restaurant gift card), you can use the Print Label and Quick Letters buttons at the bottom of the Dentrix Patient Referrals dialog box. Using the Print Label button, you can print a mailing address label on your label printer. Using the Quick Letters button, you can select the Referred By Patient letter from the list and click Build/View to merge a letter in Microsoft Word with the patient’s personalized information from Dentrix. You can then customize the letter, if needed, and print it.
If you want to send an email thank you, clicking Send Email opens your default email program and adds the referring patient’s email address.
Analyzing Referral Statistics
Dentrix includes several reports that provide useful statistics and other information to help you analyze patient referrals. For example, the Practice Advisor Report — New Patient Analysis shows practice details for new patients for specific time periods, including the number and percentage of new patients that resulted from referrals. This report also compares your referral statistics against industry-standard benchmarks from top dental consultants. You should run the Practice Advisor Report — New Patient Analysis on a monthly basis to see how your patient referrals compare to these industry-standard benchmarks.
To run the Practice Advisor Report — New Patient Analysis, in the Office Manager, from the Analysis menu, click Practice Advisor, and then click Practice Advisor Report. In the Practice Advisor Report dialog box, specify the options and information you want to be included in the report. For information on using these options, click the Help icon in the bottom left corner of the dialog box. After selecting the desired options, click Preview to display the report in the Print Preview window. To print the report, click the Print icon on the toolbar.
If you want to increase your patient base and grow your practice, ask for referrals and reward patients who provide them. Dentrix provides several tools to help, but the important thing to remember is that you need to ask.
Sign up for a free 30-minute practice assessment to get advice about your referral statistics from an experienced Dentrix business advisor. Visit https://www.dentrix.com/products/dentrix-profitability-coaching for more information.
Read How to Have a Rock Star Marketing Strategy for more ideas about how to implement patient referrals in your practice.
By Roger Gagon, Senior Editor
Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Winter 2011