A strong referral network can help new and established behavioral health practices quickly gain more clients. Here are some of the best methods for building up that network.
- Make a plan.
Your behavioral health organization should have a business plan in place. Similarly, you should create a specific plan for building your referral network.
- Clarify and write down your goals for growth and for increasing referrals
- Brainstorm potential referral sources
- Determine how you will know you’ve achieved your goal
- Set a timeline for achieving your goal (building your network takes time, so be patient and realistic)
- Use the right technology.
Is your practice using an electronic health record (EHR) system that supports referrals and lets you share information easily with other providers? This is often referred to as interoperability, and it’s an important part of building a network in behavioral health.
Without an EHR that supports interoperability, communication with other organizations can become slow and inefficient. Poor data-sharing abilities can delay care, which can frustrate potential collaborators and harm a practice’s reputation. When going digital, make sure your software is up-to-date on interoperability standards.
- Look at what is already available to you.
Even a new practice doesn’t have to build a referral network from the ground up. Consider existing referral sources to get started. This might include local Google listings and insurance company provider directories.
Other online listings include Psychology Today, Good Therapy, or NetworkTherapy.com. Keep in mind that many of these sites may charge a fee or have other requirements in order to list your practice in their directories.
- Broaden your network scope.
Already have some referral sources in mind? Time to broaden your targets!
You should definitely work on building relationships with other organizations and providers in your specialty. However, you should also make connections with more broadly related organizations and individuals. Depending on your speciality and focus, these may include urgent care facilities, primary care providers, schools, attorneys, and social workers.
- Ask your existing clients.
If your current clients share information about their other providers with you, offer to connect with those providers to help improve your client’s care. Make sure your client signs a HIPAA-compliant medical release form for each provider you contact.
Gather this information from new clients, as well. Create intake forms that request the name and contact information of a client’s current primary care or other referring provider. As always, make sure your client signs a medical release form specific to that provider.
- Put yourself out there.
When you have some targets in mind for building your network, consider how to make meaningful connections. This might include organizing a meetup with other professionals, giving a free talk, getting to know the office managers at other practices, or sharing a letter of introduction.
When interacting with other professionals:
- Show consideration for others’ time and needs
- Be concise about your practice, what you do, and your contact information
- Stay friendly and authentic
- Don’t just talk about yourself—ask others about their practice, their needs, and ideas
Start slow when building a referral network. Pick a few methods to focus on for a while before deciding to stick with them or try something new.
Do your practice’s digital tools support your business goals? BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions, created specifically for behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, can help your practice stay on track. Contact us today to fin