Word-of-Mouth Patient Referrals: The Most Powerful Acquisition Tool

word of mouth patient referrals

In this article, you’ll learn why word of mouth patient referrals are among the most powerful patient acquisition tools to help grow your practice. 

For providers, word-of-mouth referrals are the gold standard of marketing. That’s because patients place a high value on social proof and personal stories from other patients. In fact, many new patients will experience you first through a story from an existing patient. 

Wellbe’s patient engagement solutions can help you collect vital information about how your patients experience each stage of their surgical journey. Read on to learn more about how to boost your patient pipeline by increasing word-of-mouth referrals.

Key Takeaways

  • 68.1% of patients consider word-of-mouth communications when it comes to various healthcare issues.
  • Implementing an integrated patient monitoring system can minimize your marketing expenses and maximize your revenue.
  • You can protect your online reputation by reviewing patient satisfaction surveys, responding to online reviews, and conducting audits of your office workflows.

Examples of Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Word of mouth referrals often result from casual recommendations from friends, colleagues, or family members. They can also be more formal, such as a referral from another provider. 

Electronic word of mouth (eWOM), sometimes called word of mouse, occurs when patients use technology to share or post details about their personal experiences online. 

Here are some different types of media where word of mouth referrals can take place:

  • Social Media Posts and Replies 
  • Direct Messages
  • Emails
  • Phone Calls
  • Text Messages
  • Online Reviews
  • Message Boards
  • Community Forums
  • Casual Conversations

Marketing experts often refer to “stickiness” as a measure of marketing strategy effectiveness. When experiences are “sticky”—meaning patients remember them—they are also more shareable. 

Image Source httpswwwfarmoremarketingcombloghow to create viral marketing content

So, what makes a patient’s experience stick in their mind?

Word-of-Mouth Patient Referrals: Why They Matter

Patients trust the opinions of family and friends over actual paid marketing campaigns. That’s what makes word-of-mouth patient referrals so powerful. When your patients know you, like you, and trust you, they’ll be more likely to rave about you to others.

Whether you realize it or not, all of your patients are influencers. Word of mouth referrals from patients can directly impact your caseload—and your bottom line. The more you can stand out as an exceptional provider, the more likely your patients will send referrals your way. 

Reputation management is critical. Your reputation is determined by the collective experiences your patients have with you, and it serves as your report card. 

Carefully monitoring patient satisfaction surveys and online reviews will help you gauge the effectiveness of the systems you have established within your practice.

How to Boost Word of Mouth Referrals and Acquire More Patients

As more patients turn to the web to seek medical care, providers have struggled to keep up with the latest trends for acquiring new patients. 

Word of mouth referrals from other patients is powerful, which is why enlisting strategies to increase the sharing of positive experiences can help your practice thrive. 

Here are some strategies to leverage word-of-mouth referrals as a patient acquisition tool:

1. Ask Your Patients Directly

The best way to increase referrals is to ask for them. Unless you directly ask your patients to refer friends and family members, they may not remember to. Be clear about which types of patients they should refer and where to direct potential new patients. To make this process easier, consider giving patients printed instructions that outline in detail how they can make referrals. 

2. Streamline Patient Experiences 

One of the biggest challenges for patients is not having consistent experiences with their providers.  If they don’t know what they can expect from one encounter to the next, or if they have very different experiences across channels (phone, in person, online), they are more likely to seek out another provider. Streamlining workflows helps create more consistent experiences. This will also help you identify areas for process improvement more efficiently, improving overall patient satisfaction. 

3. Deliver Exceptional Care

Going above and beyond to deliver high-quality care can set you apart from your competitors. By exceeding patient expectations, patients will be more likely to share their experience with others through better health outcomes or personalized care. Do your best to make each interaction with patients positive, from the scheduling stage to follow-up.

4. Train Your Staff

Your staff plays an enormous role in the overall experiences your patients have with you. How they experience scheduling, check-in, discharge, and follow-up visits will impact their overall experience. A single negative online comment or review could persuade potential new patients to choose another physician, so providing detailed training for your staff can help them understand what you expect from them. 

5. Conduct Patient Satisfaction Surveys

Conducting regular audits of your patient’s journey can help you identify areas for improvement. Here are some ways to collect information about patient satisfaction: 

  • Establish a workflow to administer patient satisfaction surveys at key points along each patient’s journey.
  • Call the front desk periodically to see how patients are greeted. 
  • Causally ask patients for feedback during office visits.
  • Include a patient survey in your newsletter.
  • Add a feedback link to your website.
word of mouth referral statistics
Image Source httpsconsumervaluecreationcom20170308electronic word of mouth versus interpersonal word of mouth are all forms of word of mouth equally influential

Follow-Up: The Missing Link in Word of Mouth Referrals

Word-of-mouth referrals are great, but they’re not always enough. Many patients still conduct extensive online searches before choosing a physician. For that reason, providers must follow up with potential new patients to demonstrate a commitment to establishing a trusted, ongoing relationship.   

Here are some ways you can follow up with patients: 

  • Follow Up on New Patient Inquiries: Respond to patient inquiries quickly, using the same method of outreach they used to contact you (email, phone, text, etc.).
  • Follow Up with Existing Patients: Follow up regularly with existing patients to gauge satisfaction and ask for referrals.
  • Follow Up on Reviews: While HIPAA marketing guidelines were created to prevent the disclosure of personally identifiable health information, providers can still engage with reviewers online when appropriate. Thank your patients for leaving a review. Invite them to contact your office if they need help resolving an issue, and always be respectful. classy 

Boost Word-of-Mouth Patient Referrals with Wellbe

Is your word-of-mouth marketing strategy delivering results? If you need help designing an effective patient acquisition strategy via your digital presence to grow your practice, Wellbe can help. Our integrated workflows can help you increase word-of-mouth patient referrals by streamlining how you collect and monitor key performance metrics. 

By creating a sense of community among patients within your practice, you’ll naturally encourage information-sharing between patients. 

From patient satisfaction to automated workflows, Wellbe can help you increase referrals, leverage validated digital marketing practices, and maximize revenue.

Learn more about Wellbe’s patient enablement platform by contacting us today.