get more GP referrals

Smart ways to get more GP referrals to your private practice

When you reflect on what makes your private practice grow and thrive, chances are that getting more GP referrals will be a constant focus. Let’s go over some smart ways to get more patient leads from your local general practitioners. Combine them all and you are on a roll to double your practice work volume in the new financial year.
get more GP referrals

Smart ways to get more GP referrals to your private practice

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

July 1, 2021

Before we start - why you can’t rely on GP referrals only

How to get more GP referrals?

A word of caution before I tell you how to get more GP referrals. Don’t let your GP referrals be the only business development focus of your practice. I have seen many practices see their business volume decrease, simply because the GP referrals appear to be drying up over the years. Patients are shopping around (as in using Google to check you out and compare). Private health plans are scrutinised. The online content gives us more choice and if you don’t have a digital strategy, GPs might refer to your competitor more often. Perhaps because your competitor is following the five tips I will share below and because the new generation of competitors is on top of their digital game.

#1 - Leadership - Build an educator profile

get more GP referrals tip #1

Bluntly asking GPs to send more patients your way might work if the GP happens to be your sister-in-law. Most of the time it won’t work. The ideal strategy to help GPs in your catchment area refer patients to you is all about giving rather than asking. And what I’m talking about here are not silver-coated pens, fancy dinner parties, or jewelry vouchers. When someone gives us something that we find valuable, a special kind of human chemistry kicks in.

When a GP receives information that truly offers value – guess what type of emotions are involved afterward: gratitude, trust, respect, and this often neglected but very subtle one: reciprocity. They want to return some kind of favour. And hey, if you are that specialist who delivers easy-to-grasp, well-presented information online that helps me be a better GP…why wouldn’t I remember your name, bookmark your homepage, or scribble some notes in the Big Book Of Specialists I keep on my desk? Maybe even erase the name of a competitor that was printed there and add your name instead?

Be a Specialist / Leader. Don’t Google ‘how to become a Specialist / Leader’, because you already are one. You have knowledge that others can use to change patients’ lives. Use that power and build an educator profile.

get more GP referrals

#2 - Turn a white paper into a whitepaper

get more GP referrals tip #2

Whitepapers are a great tool to present relevant medical information to GPs so they can use it to help their patients. The Specialist / Leader who uses this will start with elementary research. Perhaps not into the medical topic – because they know it because of their specialty – but rather into the typical information needs of the GP.

The Specialist-Leader now calls her three favourite GPs, and asks ten minutes of their time. Common questions their patients have will provide invaluable information. Treat the information as verbal gold. Use the information needs shared by your favourite GPs, as the skeleton for your whitepaper.

Who is the target audience? You decide. If you write your whitepaper for the GP, answer their questions primarily. Or, if you feel your information is actually for the patient, write it with the patient in mind and make it available through the GP. You have now empowered the GP to be an educator, and guess whose name is on the whitepaper? The Specialist / Leader’s name, and this happens to be you.

#3 - Connect more from the comfort of your home

get more GP referrals tip #3

Connecting with GPs used to be about wining-and-dining – and for some specialists it still is.
Luckily, as a specialist doctor or surgeon, you have amazing and powerful tools at your fingertips and LinkedIn is often underestimated. The advanced features allow you to find out what all the GPs in your local catchment area are posting about. The basic features allow you to simply make a list of those local GPs and connect with them, one by one.

Now the next leg of your new LinkedIn connection strategy could be a combination of the following:

  • Simply reach out: You would be surprised how a simple conversation, about the community you live in, or a common interest, can trigger a new relationship, even just in the personal message inbox of something like LinkedIn. Before you know it you are calling your new connection and they are sending referrals your way.
  • Publish: Because under #tip2 you have chosen to be a Specialist / Educator, you now have a habit of producing interesting content for GPs. Posting it on LinkedIn gets it in front of all your new connections and reminds them of who you are and why they would consider referring to you. You can add videos. You can add slides. You can collect email addresses when a GP downloads your whitepaper and then start sending them updates next time you publish. That is the start of a referral relationship without silver-coated pens or dinner vouchers.
  • Advertise: If you want to take it to the next level, you can create specific educational content for GPs and use a LinkedIn sponsored post to show it to exactly those GPs that are in your local area. Explain the benefits of anterior hip replacement. Discuss the role of laser in the treatment of endometriosis. Talk about this new diet program after bariatric surgery.


But not all the GPs in my area are on LinkedIn and why would I waste energy there?

I often hear that interesting thought before it is shared out loud. Well, go on LinkedIn, type ‘general practitioner’ and then ‘Sydney’ if you happen to be in Sydney, and check how many LinkedIn search results you get. Convinced? Now start getting those referrals and don’t tell your competitor that you are going to grow your practice in this spectacular and innovative way.

get more GP referrals

#4 - Make them feel special - give them a section

get more GP referrals tip #4

No, we’re not talking a Caesarean here. Give the GPs a section on your website. A corner that says ‘For GPs’. I have seen so many GPs cling onto their keyboard in the middle of a consultation, to then see them go down Google Avenue to show something to a patient.

You may as well influence their habits and be the one Specialist/Educator that has a great GP section.

This is not the part where you dump pages of doctor-speak onto your web pages because you believe that you are speaking to someone who understands it all…To the contrary, this would be the part of your website that the GPs can use to help their patients. The GP section helps the GP be a better GP by using specialist content that is palatable for the patient.

Skill sets needed to make this happen: An understanding of the specialty. Knowledge of copywriting. Editorial and layout skills. Web design and web development skills. A strategic vision on what patients need and how GPs can help with education rather than a blind referral.

The GP section on your website is also something you can refer to when you publish a whitepaper, or when you connect on LinkedIn. Can you see it’s all starting to connect? You are on the verge of building an unrivaled medical marketing powerhouse.

#5 - Keep networking. It won’t do any harm.

get more GP referrals tip #5

All of the above is not a system that allows you to become a Specialist/Hermit. Keep connecting with your community, keep having conversations and see how all these new tools and tactics now tie together. Offer to do a seminar at the local GP super clinic. Tell the hospital you are connected to, that you now have a special GP program.
Distribute a flyer to all GP practices in your catchment area with a QR code to your GP section. Send them an info pack that links back to your online presence.

Most importantly, keep networking the old-fashioned way and make sure you have an easy way to jump from that conversation on to the digital universe you have been creating. In the end, it is not about the tools or the tactics. It is about letting your network of local GPs know that you care about their patients.

Not for the referral, but for the wellbeing of their patient. I wish you an avalanche of new, genuine GP referrals, and please let me know how you are going with these tips!

And if we can help you set up some of the strategies outlined in this article, book a free consult  and we will see each other on Zoom.

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