Tips & Resources

How to Increase Referrals for Your Healthcare Business and Drive Patient Bookings

Austin Andrukaitis
By Austin Andrukaitis
25 July, 2023

Looking to drive more patients’ bookings for your healthcare business? Learn how to increase referrals with these 7 tips.

a women doctor with a 5 stars score for good service

1. Provide Exceptional Patient Care

Before anything, be sure to comply with all the legal regulations and requirements. One important step in ensuring your practice is operating legally is to get a business license. If your care facility is legally allowed to operate, that means you have the minimum requirement to deliver satisfactory service. 

Your patients’ well-being should always be your top priority. When you focus on delivering outstanding quality of care, you ensure your patient satisfaction and create a memorable experience for them. This experience can encourage them to refer others to your medical practice and, ultimately, increase your bookings

Similarly, exceptional patient care makes other physicians see you as capable enough in your specialty. So they won’t even think twice before referring patients to you. 

Now, pay attention to every aspect of the patient experience, from the moment they enter your practice to the time they leave. Create a welcoming and comfortable environment, with friendly staff members who greet patients with warm smiles. You also want to minimize wait times as much as possible. So, ensure that there is always a physician available. 

That said, during the consultation, always take the time to listen attentively to current patients’ concerns, ask follow-up questions, and show genuine empathy. This personal connection makes your patients feel understood and valued. Hence, improving their chances of telling others about your business. 

Finally, understand that every patient is unique. They have different medical histories, lifestyles, and preferences. So, constantly tailor your care plans to address specific circumstances and needs. Although you’re generally the authority in determining which specific medications your patient should take to treat or cure a condition, you can defer to your patient when it comes to other things like their preferred times for walking, for instance, or their preferred workout as part of their treatment in the first place.

2. Develop a Strong Online Presence

Besides word-of-mouth referrals, you should equally pay attention to online referral sources like review-based and social referrals. 

Nowadays, 90% of patients turn to the Internet to evaluate physicians. They go through your online reviews, website, or social media comments before deciding if you’re the right fit. The same goes for referring doctors who want to be sure that your practice is trustworthy and suitable before entrusting you with their patients.

Your online presence must be impeccable to convince both parties to consider your clinic. 

To begin, create a professional website. Make sure it’s user-friendly, SEO-optimized, and intuitive. It should also provide easy access to important information like contact details and appointment scheduling:

a contact form from nexeye

Just like CFOSM below, include a clear and concise description of your specialties. This will help visitors understand what sets you apart from other healthcare providers.

a screenshot of the center for orthopaedics and sport medicine

You can also engage your audience on social media to establish your online presence (see #5). Partner with social media influencers in the healthcare industry. They can help you reach a wider audience and gain credibility through their endorsement.

Testimonials can also significantly boost your online credibility. Reach out to satisfied patients and ask them to share positive reviews on your website or social media platforms. 

You can also ask loyal patients to drop a few good words on review websites like Vitals, ZocDoc, and RateMDs. These platforms usually rank #1 for hospital-related searches (see below). So you have a chance to bring your practice to where patients will easily see it.

a screenshot of google result when looking for top clinics New York

This robust online presence establishes you as a trusted healthcare professional, increases patient referrals and, eventually, bookings.

3. Implement a Referral Program

Patient referral programs provide a structured and rewarding system that encourages your existing patients to spread the word about your exceptional services. If you do it well, expect your bookings to skyrocket. 

First, ensure your referral program is simple and easy to understand. Complicated rules and requirements can deter patients from participating. Let your patients know that by referring someone to your practice, they will receive a particular reward or incentive. This could be a discount on their next visit, a gift card, or a branded promotional item.

Next, make it easy for your patients to refer others. Simplify the process by creating user-friendly referral forms. You can also use digital platforms where patients can easily submit their referrals, like ReferralCandy and ReferralHero.

Consider offering incentives for both the referrer and the referred. This creates a win-win situation and increases the likelihood of the referral being successful. 

Don’t forget to promote the program. You can inform your patients about the program during their visits or display eye-catching posters in your waiting area. You can also include information about the program on your practice's website and social media accounts:

a instagram post from Starbucks for a referral program

Plus, when a patient refers someone, make sure to reach out to them personally to express your gratitude. You have their email in your database. So, take advantage of this to strengthen your relationship and encourage continued referrals. 

But be careful not to send emails to invalid addresses. This can result in bounced messages, harm your reputation, and potentially lead to your emails going to spam folders. So, always verify email addresses before sending the messages.

4. Foster Relationships with Primary Care Physicians (PCPs)

Primary Care Physicians are often the first point of contact for patients. That means their recommendations carry weight. They’re also a rich source of patients. 

So, take the time to connect with PCPs in your area. Attend local medical events, join professional networks, or even set up informal meet-ups. You can also search for PCPs near you to find these physicians:

a screenshot of a Google result for when looking for a physician near me

When you find these PCPs, show genuine interest in their work and ask about their patients' needs. Plus, discuss how you can collaborate to provide exceptional care. This conversation establishes a foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Consider organizing educational events or lunch-and-learn sessions for PCPs, too. Share your expertise on specific medical topics, showcase the latest advancements, and provide valuable insights that PCPs can apply in their practices. This positions you as a knowledgeable resource and helps you build trust and credibility among PCPs. If they’re looking for who to refer their patients to, you’ll always come first in their minds. 

Remember to reciprocate the referrals as well. If a PCP refers a patient to you, make sure to provide excellent care and keep the PCP updated on the patient's progress. This mutual respect and collaboration reinforces the relationship and encourages future referrals.

5. Engage with Patients on Social Media

When you actively engage with your patients on social media platforms, you create a sense of trust and connection. This, in turn, encourages them to share their positive experiences and recommend your services to others. 

How do you engage with your patients on social media?

You can use social listening tools to monitor conversations about your brand. Then respond promptly to comments, messages, and reviews. Show your patients that their opinions matter and that you genuinely care about their well-being. When you demonstrate genuine care and attentiveness, your patients will feel valued and more likely to recommend your practice to their friends and family.

6. Offer Educational Events for Patients

Educational events help you build trust and credibility among your audience. This makes them more likely to refer their friends, family, and colleagues to your practice.

Start by identifying topics that are relevant and of interest to your target audience. This ensures maximum engagement and participation. 

Further, think beyond traditional lectures and create interactive formats that encourage participation. Incorporate hands-on activities, Q&A sessions, panel discussions, or even small-group workshops. Engaging formats keep attendees involved and foster a sense of community. 

In addition to in-person events, consider hosting virtual educational sessions through webinars or live social media streams (shown below). There are platforms that make the setup and online booking of these events simple and error-free to manage. These events expand your reach, allowing patients from different locations to participate and benefit from your expertise. Online events can also be easily recorded and shared afterward, extending the educational value and reaching an even wider audience.

a promotion banner of a cardiologist event in Facebook

You can also collaborate with other healthcare professionals or specialists in related fields. This partnership brings diverse perspectives and enhances the value of the event. It also helps you tap into their existing patient networks, increasing the chances of referral appointments.

7. Utilize Targeted Marketing Campaigns

Generic marketing plans may cast a wide net, but they often fail to resonate with potential patients who are seeking specialized healthcare services. This is where targeted marketing campaigns, designed specifically to attract patients who can benefit from  innovative SaaS healthcare solutions, come into play.

This approach with SaaS platforms helps you attract patients with unique and convenient ways of accessing specialized healthcare services. Be it scheduling appointments, securely accessing medical records or receiving customized plans, the platform ensures your practice stays  patient-centric. If they’re satisfied, they can then refer your service to others who may have similar healthcare needs. Do you see where this SaaS marketing strategy is leading? More bookings!

Begin by defining the characteristics of your ideal patients. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, medical conditions, and specific healthcare needs. Then, segment them according to specific data like their medical conditions, for example. Represent each segment with a patient persona (fictional representation):

how to build a patient persona

This profile will serve as a guide for crafting targeted marketing campaigns that will resonate with your desired audience.

Once you understand each segment, create specific messaging that addresses their pain points. Say you're targeting active individuals seeking sports injury rehabilitation. 

Communicate the unique value and benefits patients can expect when choosing your specific sports injury rehabilitation services. This could be successful patient outcomes or innovative equipment that you use. 

Next, choose the right marketing channels to reach each segment. For our example, you might consider platforms like Instagram or Facebook, where you can share success stories of athletes you've helped get back on their feet. 

The key is to align your messaging and marketing efforts with the specific needs and interests of each target audience.


Learning how to increase referrals for your healthcare business is relatively easy. But you have to put in the work. 

Begin by providing high-quality care and developing a strong online presence. You also want to consider a referral program, connect with PCPs, and use social media to engage with patients. Finally, use targeted marketing campaigns and offer educational events and workshops. 

These simple strategies will help you increase the chances of both patient and physician referrals.

Austin Andrukaitis

About the author

Austin Andrukaitis

Austin Andrukaitis is the CEO of He's an experienced digital marketing strategist with many years of experience in creating successful online campaigns. Austin's approach to developing, optimizing, and delivering web-based technologies has helped businesses achieve higher profit, enhance productivity, and position organizations for accelerated sustained growth.

Related articles

Telemedicine Trends and How They Are Revolutionising Medical Appointment Booking
Learn more
a doctor revising his online calendar and the appointments made online by patients
Streamlining Appointments: How Online Scheduling Transforms the Healthcare Industry
Learn more
Reduce patient waiting times with effective appointment scheduling
Learn more