Prosthodontists with the Most Connections Get the Most Referrals
What is the single best way to grow your prosthodontics practice? Expand your referral network.
In an era of heightened competition, corporate dentistry, and shifting economic and demographic trends, many prosthodontists we talk to are concerned about their referral bridges’ eroding, as the once-constant professional relationships some have enjoyed for many years are diminishing.
You can’t end competition, stabilize global economic trends or will a return to the good old days. But you can build a hedge around your practice so it remains healthy, regardless of what’s going on in the world around you. Despite the changes in referral relationships, and increases in dentists’ taking on complex dental procedures, you absolutely can continue to build your practice.
It is a very rare, very fortunate prosthodontist who can count on a patient pipeline to remain full based simply on his or her exceptional expertise and extensive education. It comes down to one word: connections.
Systemize your connection-building
The prosthodontists with the most connections are almost always the ones who track those relationships. By having systems behind your connections in place, you’ll have invaluable insights into your referrals. You’ll know which dentists are referring patients and how often, what types of cases they are sending you, and which types of cases are on the decline from referral sources.
By systemizing your connection-building, you can keep your referral base strong. For example, if you note that some dentists refer consistently, but for only one or two types of cases, this may be an opportunity for you to educate them about the other services you provide. Similarly, if you notice patient health being compromised by declines in procedures you used to perform more frequently, this is also an opportunity for you to educate your dental colleagues.
One of the most useful tips we share with dental specialists is to take action when they note a drop-off in referrals from a general dentist. It can be a difficult or uncomfortable conversation, but it’s in the best interest of your practice to dig deep and find out the reasons for such declines. Uncomfortable as it may be, it’s much better for your practice to find out the real reasons for referral attrition than to make assumptions about these declines, which are often inaccurate. The better solution is to ask.
Newsletters are a turnkey system
What are you doing to expand your connections? How are you generating and tracking referrals, and taking action to keep your referral base strong? Prosthodontics newsletters are a proven, effective and powerful way to maintain existing connections and build new ones.
- Prosthodontics Newsletter benefits referring dentists because it features concise summaries of the latest research findings in prosthodontics—without “how to” details. This newsletter is edited by Dr. David Cagna, who practices at the University of Tennessee Dental Faculty Practice. He is Associate Dean for Postgraduate Affairs, and Professor and Director of the Advanced Prosthodontics Program, in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.
- Report on Prosthodontics focuses on dental implants and features summaries of the latest research findings in prosthodontics. Report on Prosthodontics is edited by Dr. Lisa A. Lang, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of General Practice and Materials Science at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. Dr. Lang is a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics.
In an all-in-one referral-building system for prosthodontists, WPI Communications, Inc., handles everything from newsletter list management, to newsletter development and distribution, to creating a custom local dentist database. Customized for the practice that sends them, both Prosthodontics Newsletter and Report on Prosthodontics are geographically exclusive so that only one prosthodontics practice in a community is licensed to distribute this valuable publication.
These newsletters demonstrate that you appreciate referrals and that you care enough about the referring dentist to provide valuable information. They influence dentists so that when it’s time to refer a patient, they will think of your practice.
Be the easy prosthodontist to work with
Ensure that interactions with your prosthodontics practice are easy for referring dentists and free of headaches. Everyone wants to work with people they like and who they feel are on their side. Make sure your practice falls into this category—from the first interaction with your office to the last.
Everyone in your practice plays an important role in building and maintaining a strong referral network and the internal system that supports it. Be sure that your staff is well positioned to provide the necessary support. Empower and educate your team to meet this challenge.
Another way to build strong relationships with referring dentists is to impeccably manage the patients they send you. Your system of communicating back to them must be professional and repeatable, but it also has to be efficient and work for both you and the dentist. Check in with the referring office, and ask if there is anything your practice can do to better engage with them.
Make it a priority to communicate with the referring dentist promptly. That will demonstrate that you are willing to go the extra mile to be sure their patients get the care the dentist expects. Do all you can to see their patients as quickly as possible. Make special accommodations for patients who are in pain. This will send a powerful message to the referring dentist and their staff that you are committed to helping that practice and that suffering patient. Both are critical to building the referral relationship.
Do you already have a large network of referring dentists who send you patients regularly, or could you stand to benefit from even more? Chances are, you have some wiggle room to expand your network. Professional, referral-generating newsletters, such as Prosthodontics Newsletter and Report on Prosthodontics, are a proven way to broaden your referral network and grow your practice.
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