5 Tips to Doctor Referral Partnerships

Read our 5 tips and learn how to build referral partnerships with doctors and physicians. Find tips for nutrition professionals at Healthie.

Have you considered how creating a partnership with doctors might benefit your own practice? Referral partnerships are a great way to grow your business and expand your clientele. Building a partnership with a physician or medical practice group makes sense - you're both working to improve the health of your clients and patients.

More and more, we're seeing dietitians initiate doctor referral partnerships to provide nutrition consulting and advisement for their practice.

If you are working with the same clientele as a local physician or specialist, why not build a relationship that will benefit both of you?

Here are a few pointers on how to get started building a doctor referral partnership:

1. Know What You're Looking For Before Initiating Any Referral Partnership

Before you try to set up a referral partnership, you need to know what kind of partnership will be best for your business. Brainstorm what kind of a partnership you think might best support not only your business, but a physician's as well.

There are a number of ways we've seen this relationship work. In one model, you as the dietitian, work as an independent contractor with your services directly offered to their clients. In another, you might set up weekly hours that you would agree to sit in and be available to their clients.

2. Connect With Physicians and Specialists In Your Area

While you are navigating your first partnership with a physician, it's important to think about what you want out of this doctor referral partnership. Are you looking for referrals or in-office consults?

When reaching out to local physicians, be confident and casual. The worst that could happen is that they say they aren't interested in forming a partnership. (In that case, move on to the next physician on your list!)

When you first reach out to a local physician, you may need to go through the office receptionist. Introduce yourself, share your relevant credentials, and let them know that you're interested in forming a partnership. It may be a good idea to call before stopping by the office. Also, it may take several phone calls or in-person visits before your information even reaches the physician(s).

Be sure you know why you're interested in building a partnership with physicians in this particular practice specifically.

3. Schedule an In-Person Meeting

Always try to meet physicians in-person. This helps establish a rapport between you and the doctor and can make it much easier to set up a referral partnership.

Your meeting doesn't have to be an all-day affair, and you'll find that most physicians only have a few minutes to speak. It can be quick and casual. A great way to grab their attention is by suggesting a "lunch and learn" or breakfast presentation to discuss why collaborating is mutually beneficial.

This is a great place to share your treatment methods and discuss items such as detailed charting notes and communication methods that you can use to communicate private client information. In this meeting, be sure to bring business cards, pamphlets, or even a referral pad so your new potential partner will have your contact information (again).

4. Discuss Financial Incentives Between Both Parties

Cement your doctor referral partnership by deciding the fiscal details.

We have seen this work out a number of ways, whether it be receiving compensation as a percentage of commissions or through a set fixed rate per day you spend at the MD's practice. Always first take into account how much you charge clients at your own practice and how compensation from this partnership compares. In the end, you want to provide a plan that can mutually benefit both you and your MD partner.

5. Nurture Your Partnership by Following Up

Great partnerships don't often happen over night. Build a relationship by maintaining an ongoing conversation. Send follow-up notes and charts from sessions with your shared clients. Strive to be timely and consistent too.

Good channels of communication can go a long way in supporting the physician's care plan and fostering a strong relationship between you and your doctor referral partner.

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