Jackson Hole, Wyo. — In a world where cosmetic services revolve around gratifying a patient's needs, the cosmetic surgeon may often forget about another external element that is often key to their business — their referral base.
"It's not only important to ensure the satisfaction of those patients who are referred to you for cosmetic services, but also to ensure the satisfaction of the doctor who referred them," says Bill Miller, senior Allergan practice consultant. "Not only will this result in additional referrals, but it also allows the referring physician to realize that the dermatologist or plastic surgeon places value on their opinion."
While the percentage of referrals may not be large, they can be a significant force in a practice when overall approval is offered from the source. Whether it is a primary care physician or another specialist, the ability to cultivate a relationship with the referee is a win-win situation for everyone involved, according to Mr. Miller, speaking here at the Cosmetic Boot Camp.Marketing through education "One of the key components is to educate the referring physician about what it is that you offer," Mr. Miller says. "Bring them into the office and perform the procedures on them or one of their office managers — education is the best form of marketing."
Just as an outreach to patients is an ongoing and critical task, so is the outreach to a referral base. While the reliance on referrals may be a small percentage of a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon's patient base, establishing an assurance in their abilities is pivotal to consistency in where outside physician's patients are sent.
"Keeping your outside referral base updated is key, and can be done through e-mail updates regarding new equipment and procedures, and what you're offering in your practice," Mr. Miller says. "But, don't assume that everyone is linked to the newest technology — this type of communication can also occur through faxes."
Internal forces When a solid outside source is relying on expert cosmetic services, the attention should then turn inside. By approaching the services offered with a strategic perspective, the cosmetic surgeon can determine how each member of a physician's staff can contribute to the overall patient experience.
"The physician has to first decide what they're going to focus on in terms of cosmetic procedures. For example, Botox Cosmetic is the driver of cosmetic procedures and is number one in overall satisfaction — this product is a great way to get new patients in and make them comfortable with cosmetic procedures and then build from that point to higher-level procedures," Mr. Miller explains.
Mr. Miller recommends that all members of the staff are trained on the subject of Botox Cosmetic so that they understand the benefits of the procedure and how it is performed — which, in turn, instigates another source of referrals: the patient base. Patients are often overlooked as a key source of referrals, with physicians and their staff often not keeping these consistent patient contacts in a database. By rewarding the patient who referred the practice's services with notes of appreciation and coupons, the practice will continue to reap referrals from them, according to Mr. Miller.
"The patient referral base is ensured by proper staff training and knowledge about the products you offer."
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