No doctor should underestimate the importance of a strong network. Be it online or in person, giving your practice a recognizable brand is a great way to gain exposure, educate your patients, and obtain useful referrals from other doctors.
Say, for instance, you are an allergist in Washington DC. It is not uncommon for patients to come to your office with skin-related conditions, in which case, you likely have a trustworthy dermatologist to whom you refer patients, and who may refer patients to you. While many doctors think the key to networking is obtaining relationships, it is often more effective to cultivate those already in place. Do not, however, think of this relationship as an opportunity to gain, but rather, an opportunity to give. What services can you provide that will complement a dermatologist’s? One creative way is to perform allergy testing for the dermatologist’s treatments. If a dermatologist in your network performs Juvederm Voluma in Washington DC, for instance, the dermatology patients will likely have to be tested for allergies before undergoing the procedure. Voluma contains lidocaine and proteins, either of which may cause an adverse response from the patient’s immune system. Because lidocaine is not something most of us encounter regularly, patients may not be aware of lidocaine allergies without testing. This is a perfect opportunity to remind the Washington DC Voluma doctor, that your immunology training allows you to diagnose unusual immune sensitivity.
Important as they are, competence and training alone do not win referrals for your practice. As in any business, doctors are more likely to work with someone they find congenial and helpful. Conveying an air of pleasance and openness will help gain the trust of other doctors, and give them a sense of your bedside manner. A pleasant experience for the patient will also reflect well on the doctor who referred you, building further trust between the referring doctor and his or her patient. As a Washington DC allergist, you want to be sure that the dermatologist you refer will prove helpful and pleasant with your patients and vice versa. Being friendly and courteous with other physicians’ staff will also serve you well. Making “small talk” with receptionists, asking about their holidays, how their days are going, or any family they mention will go a long way in leaving a good impression. Of course, you should train your own staff to do the same. Pleasant exchanges often lead to referral exchanges.
Across every profession, there is a right way and a wrong way to network. This holds true in medicine, where the main goal should be to help other professionals. When you keep the other doctor’s needs and wants in mind, you are more likely to serve him or her well and build a fruitful, lasting relationship that boosts your practice.