Developing a successful private practice is given little discussion in coursework for yet the need for information is apparent. Therefore, this will address several critical elements in developing and maintaining a successful health-care practice (which can include private practice or a practice in a rehabilitation center). Other topics to follow will include developing an appropriate business plan, creating a comprehensive policy and procedures manual, and an article describing how to ensure you have developed a patient-centric practice through appropriate (non-clinical) patient management.
As an owner or manager of a health-care practice, there are many and varied critical elements to consider over the long term. A well-executed business plan, pricing strategies appropriate to the fiscal needs of the practice, a policy and procedures manual covering personnel management issues and descriptions of procedural elements of the practice, employee compensation information, and an innovative marketing plan represent only a few of the elements needed to optimize success in today's health-care marketplace. It is your referral sources, however, that will populate your practice with opportunities for success. Once you have established a relationship with a referral source, the hard work of maintaining that relationship begins. This article will address establishing a referral source base and maintaining your relationship with your referral sources.
A benchmark of the reputation of a practice within a professional community is the productivity of its referral base (Glaser, 2008). The productivity of a referral base is an index of confidence and trust in the quality and consistency of services you provided to their patients in your practice. It is also an index of reliance that your reports will contain important information and clinical direction that will contribute positively to the care of their patients. When a primary care physician or other trusted health-care provider makes a referral to your office, a positive stage is set for the initial patient encounter.
Referral Source Acquisition
Acquiring referral sources is important to ensure the long-term success of your practice, no matter the venue of the practice. Although satisfied patients and their family members may be the best sources of patient referrals, the most common referral sources include a wide array of health-care practices and personnel. These sources most likely will include primary care, pediatric and internal medicine physicians, neurologists, psychiatrists, school and clinical psychologists, optometrists, audiologists, nurses, and a variety of other health-care professionals, front office personnel, and practice administrators. The many facets of referral source acquisition are covered in great detail by Traynor (2008); however, welcoming new practitioners as they open their offices or join existing health-care practice groups within your demographic region is critically important to the acquisition segment of this important equation. Setting an appointment to meet the newcomer and to also meet with his or her respective clinical and administrative staff members provides an opportunity for their practice to get to know you and your practice as well.
Referral Source Retention
High patient satisfaction is elemental in retaining referral sources. It must be the foremost goal of every practice and a pervasive force that drives each member of the professional and support staffs. Patient satisfaction is not just about the patient. Family and concerned friends are interested in the outcome of your clinical intervention and have a vested interest in the patient's success as they also stand to benefit by the patient's improved communication capabilities. As such, family and friends should be included in the process at every opportunity. With the approval of the patient, invite them into the treatment room to observe. They should be included in the question and answer segments of the diagnostic assessment and in sessions.
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