Patient referrals are a must, but they alone can’t drive practice growth. Successful practices rely on both patient and doctor referrals. Orthodontic practices heavily dependent on patient referrals typically hit a plateau long before they reach their true production potential. Increasing referrals from GPs and pediatric dentists is critical to increasing production.

To strengthen communication between orthodontist and general dentist, implement the following strategies:

1) Don’t assume your existing referring doctors will continue to refer. Having one lunch or sending a holiday gift is no longer enough. Build a strong, ongoing relationship with referring doctors. This means multiple activities throughout the year, from letters to phone calls, lunches, and possible social activities. Simply said, don’t take your referring doctors for granted.

2) Make routine get-togethers such as lunches an opportunity, not just an obligation. Always bring a printout showing all the shared patients you are treating and any updates on specific cases. Always include at least one case with clinical records. Once again, this is your opportunity to demonstrate expertise, customer service, caring, and concern.

3) Be sure to include the staffs of referring offices. These individuals are in an excellent position to either refer your practice or reinforce referrals. Remember that your goal is to have both the doctor and team members think of your practice as the exclusive place to refer patients for the best possible orthodontic care and customer service.

Building strong relationships with referring doctors and their teams ensures that your office will be thought of as "the place" for orthodontic treatment. In today’s competitive environment, the best relationship wins!

Roger P. Levin, DDS

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