What are Referrals and How do they Work?

Congrats! You’re set up with the Healthy Bytes platform, ready to partner with us to tackle your billing and reimbursement. At Healthy Bytes, one of the most often-asked questions we hear after you’re set up with the platform is, “I’m ready to find clients; what are referrals and how do they work?”  

We can help! 

You’re ambitious and ready to take on a full client load! Marketing your private practice is essential to growing your business. Today we want to hone in on referral resources to help you expand your client base. 

What are Referrals? 

Seeking and landing referrals is a strategic means of growth. Put simply, a referral is the act of another healthcare provider directing someone to you for your nutrition expertise – and to schedule a consult. The other provider realizes that his/her client’s needs are more suited to your scope of practice. 

Referrals can work in reverse as well – if you’re an RDN or CNS who is counseling a client with an eating disorder, for example, you may find it necessary to refer your client to a therapist or psychologist for additional support if warranted. 

Ultimately, referrals provide the client with a breadth of coverage to best suit their medical and health needs. 

How do Referrals Work?

Referrals may happen organically; a physician may decide that his or her client would benefit from a session or sessions with a dietitian, and upon learning that you're on the same insurance panels as him or her, have his or her client reach out to you directly to schedule an appointment. This is one of the many benefits of accepting insurance! 

Conversely, a client may reach out to you independently, and a Healthy Bytes eligibility estimate of benefits for that client may reveal that he or she must have a referral from a PCP in order to see a dietitian.

You can also seek referrals proactively; see our earlier post: “How to Seek Physician Referrals,” for tips in finding local/regional PCPs who might refer clients to you. We also encourage you to reach out to local practices (clinics, sports medicine clinics, etc.) to let them know you're contracted, or in the process of being contracted with, various insurance companies. This will put you on their radar for when they need to send clients your way for diabetes management, heart-healthy nutrition ideas, Celiac education and more!  

Following your appointment with your new client, your client may want your consult notes delivered to his/her provider. Make sure you have received or provided your client with an Authorization for Release of Information form to complete this step. Then share your notes via a HIPAA-compliant fax or email with the referring provider. 

It’s a smart practice to get into the habit of asking your clients how they found you. If and when they mention another healthcare provider, take the time to send that provider a “thank you” note or email. To strengthen the relationship, you might suggest meeting up for coffee to see how you can support one another in the future. 

Stay tuned for our next post  - we’ll discuss sourcing referrals as well as recommendations from various healthcare providers – you need not be limited to only physicians! What questions do you have about referrals and how they work?