Observation Deck

5 Ways to Build Referral Sources

This five-minute read will give you five easy steps to help you educate your oxygen referral partners and strengthen those relationships in the process.

Oxygen referral sources are imperative for the success of any homecare provider’s oxygen business, but they are not always easy to find or maintain. Most homecare providers have carefully developed their referral source marketing program and message and have done their due diligence in identifying good referral source partners who will not only support their business, but also help promote their business.

With multiple oxygen devices on the market and the emergence of telemedicine with wireless connectivity, deciding what oxygen concentrator to provide to your patients is daunting. Rapidly expanding technology places providers in a continuous state of re-evaluation of product options, as well as refining the marketing program and message to educate referral sources on what is available to serve the entire continuum of care and reaffirm the value of your partnership.

Here are five easy steps to create value and educate your referral sources:

1. Work with your manufacturer partners to build your knowledge and capability base.

Most manufacturers are happy to provide a product manager for training you and your team. Utilize this benefit and maximize this time to focus on fully understanding the clinical efficacy of their devices and their full portfolio. A manufacturer’s product manager knows their products inside and out and are here to help. Use this training to help craft your selling and resource materials for your clinical referral sources.

Also, partner with your equipment manufacturer’s sales force to help you establish a training program to work with local clinics and hospitals in order to properly train patients on how to use their oxygen therapy equipment — portable concentrators, stationary devices, and liquid systems, etc. Partnering with the right manufacturer will provide the homecare company with resources that will prepare their sales force for the important discussions with the clinicians.

In addition, by providing the clinical team or hospital staff with proper educational materials, the oxygen patient benefits from simple instructions on using their equipment following discharge, ensuring they have adequate knowledge on how they can stay titrated while they adjust to their new post-hospital care responsibilities.

2. Create a user friendly O2 resource center.

Your referral sources want to know about the products you carry and how each device performs, but the volume of available information can cause information overload for the clinician, who is already overburdened with information, paperwork, etc. When organizing your resource center, whether it is in a digital or print package, make it easy to read and understand, be concise, and communicate the proper information in an easy-to-read format and do not overwhelm them with information.

Provide your referral partners with product specifications and clinical product capability matrices showing the features that matter most when writing an oxygen therapy prescription. Also, include consumer-focused marketing materials that can aid the clinician in talking to their patient about oxygen therapy, a company overview of your business so they can get a sense of your personality, a summary of your patient training programs, and of course white papers.

3. Set regular but effective meetings.

Your referral source’s time is important, and so is yours, and getting the time with your referral source is not always easy, so make each meeting count. Address the product topics you want to cover, but also leave time to listen to and discuss other pertinent topics that your referral source has on their mind. Be sure to save time to review the practical issues of ordering, patient set-up and delivery, and the patient follow-up process.

4. Hold an event to engage patients.

Energize and support your referral sources’ patient base with a free event in which you cover valuable topics relating to their oxygen therapy equipment. Key interests include device maintenance and traveling with oxygen, along with other general questions for the provider.

This session with the clinician and provider can be enormously helpful to this population that is hungry for knowledge and tips on navigating their respiratory disease diagnosis.

Not only do these patients play an important role in spreading the word about your business after the event, but also in influencing their friends and family who will be making health care decisions today and in the future. Through these feel-good activities, the referral source will see that you are actively engaging in their patients’ treatment plans — providing so much more than just equipment, but support.

5. Maintain regular communication.

Ongoing communication is imperative, and the foundation of strong relation-ships. Ensure that your referral sources are kept informed of all applicable industry, manufacturer, and product-related news, as well as available compliance data by utilizing manufacturers’ telemedicine solutions to enhance the care they provide to their patients.

Regular, effective communication will prove your value to your referral source, showing that not only are you committed to meeting their needs, but also the needs of their patients. Remember, you are not just keeping them informed of what is going on but showing them what this means to their practice and your relationship.

Referral sources are critical to an HME provider’s business, and every home medical equipment provider must continue to build its roster of referral sources, as well as continue to maintain and foster their current referral relationships. There is no better way to build a pipeline of referral sources than with educational support and industry expertise — a foundation that they can rely and depend upon. Your oxygen therapy manufacturer is pivotal in helping you build your business, and ready to support you when you are ready to get started.

This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

George Coppola serves as the director of marketing for CAIRE Inc. (Ball Ground, Ga.), a manufacturer of portable and stationary oxygen concentrators, and liquid oxygen systems. Previous to serving at CAIRE, he worked for several major medical equipment manufacturers.

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