By Nancy Hyman

Happy patients are referring patients…with a little encouragement! Educate your audience about your practice virtues, and send “raving fans” into the community with specific messages customized to your practice. Most practices face strong competition, and a cohesive practice picture will assist your patients with a consistent referral message. Are your patients and parents aware of the myriad amenities provided by your practice?

To get started: designate a Patient Referral Manager (PRM). The PRM will organize a full-team “brainstorming” session. This team will create an amenities list tailored to your practice. Divide this team into small groups, and ask each group to create 15 to 20 qualities unique to your practice. It may be helpful to think in terms of what features appeal to children, teens, adult patients, and/or parents. Consider categories: doctor and team qualifications, complimentary services, hours, technology, community involvement, etc. Compare the amenities, and devise a cohesive Benefits List.

Start with the sample suggestions listed below and build your personal practice Benefits List:

  • Lunchtime and early morning hours
  • Less visits and shorter treatment time equals more time for life!
  • Private (or semi-private) treatment area
  • In-office Wi-Fi: catch up on work!
  • Coffee service
  • Online bill pay
  • Before school appointments
  • Facebook contests
  • Bi-monthly patient drawings for cool prizes!
  • Reward system: refer a friend
  • Game hub
  • Snack center
  • Patient appreciation events
  • Interest free custom payment plans
  • “Certified For” (insert technology): an elite technology
  • On-site insurance specialist
  • Complimentary emergency appointments
  • No charge for your first retainer
  • No charge for retainer checks for 1 year following treatment
  • Family courtesy

Now it’s time to implement your Benefits List. Use two to three key points in a teaser statement for the initial patient phone call, appointment reminder letter, during the office tour, and the pre-exam dialogue. The doctor may also add talking points during his/her portion of the initial exam. A complete list may be presented in the new patient packet, available to take home, and discussed during the fee presentation. Utilize a longer list for your practice website, newsletters, the practice brochure, and the reception area slide show.

The Benefits List arms your patients and parents with the specific tools necessary to understand the unique qualities present in your practice. When choosing an orthodontist, your potential patient pool will understand what sets you apart. They will make an informed decision based on facts disseminated through current patients, web-based strategies, and referral collateral. OP

In Part 3, Nancy Hyman will discuss patient to patient referrals and their effect on patient satisfaction.

Nancy Hyman is a speaker and practice growth consultant specializing in referral systems and increased case acceptance exclusively for the orthodontic industry. She developed the Practice Representative program for the Practice Builders orthodontic division and established marketing plans for their clients. She now shares this same program through Ortho Referral Systems. Nancy is the author of “Winning Marketing Strategies.” She can be contacted at [email protected].