A slow leak in a bike tire can be manageable—for a while. You might get by with a patch or by pumping it up every few times you ride. Similarly, you may not be so concerned if one or two in-network referrals escape your door, especially if you’re recouping the loss with a few patients gained from outside sources. The health system can still perform, even if it’s not growing or running as smoothly as it could be.
Eventually, the Band-Aid approach won’t work and you’ll need to do something serious about the leak. You can’t run a health system on a flat tire.
Of course, you don’t want referral leakage to get to that point of no return in the first place. Consistent conversations with physicians ensures your referral numbers stay pumped up. The best way to engage with referring physicians—both in-system and out-of-network—is through targeted, segmented email communications.
Email Best Practices to Stop the Leak
A growing health system is not exempt from growing pains. Expansion of service lines, partnering with outpatient facilities, and acquisition of independent practices all add more moving parts to an already complex hub. Onboarding physicians may not be aware of the breadth of your network’s services and continue to refer as they’re accustomed. Veteran docs may do the same if they’re not kept in the loop about new hospital offerings, such as the addition of a cancer immunotherapy program.
You can’t run a health system on a flat tire.
In order to most effectively influence physicians who refer elsewhere, you need to first determine who they are. A robust physician email list will contain referral data, from which you can start to address leakage.
The same list should also identify physicians’ preferred email address if multiple addresses are provided. This safeguard guarantees you’re reaching physicians where they want to be contacted and prevents you from over-sending or duplicating messages, thus avoiding the risk of clogging physicians’ inboxes.
Another best practice tactic is to recognize engagement trends among physicians, so you’re deploying on the day of week and time of day they’re most likely to favorably respond. Engagement behavior guides future deployment success—fostering meaningful conversations and ultimately strengthening hospital-physician relationships.
Targeting Out-of-Network Physicians
Email can also be a powerful driver of out-of-network referrals. Aside from referral patterns, a high-quality physician email list will also supply data about physicians outside of your hospital's umbrella, such as caseload, specialty, and practice location. With that information, you can accurately segment the entire physician population within your health system's radius of care, highlighting applicable service lines to specific targets.
If one of your departments has received an award or five-star rating, that’s the perfect opportunity to reach out to potential referrers.
Keeping the Machine Well Oiled
A bike that keeps its tip-top condition does so thanks to regular maintenance. In this case, the best defense is a good offense. Frequent check-ins with your top-referring physicians, regardless of health system affiliation, is a proactive approach to keep all referrals on track. Using an email list that allows for highly targeted, individualized messaging is the mechanism that keeps your health system machine well-oiled.