Credentialing with insurance panels is one of the first, and most critical steps that many nutrition professionals take when launching their practice. Accepting insurance enables you to reach a whole new client base as a dietitian, while providing quality, affordable nutritional care. You’ve gone through the painstaking process of becoming an insurance-based provider, and now you may be asking yourself, “how will in-network clients find me?”
Establishing multiple client referral sources is essential in driving a steady stream of new clients to your insurance-based nutrition practice.. Knowing which efforts are worth both your time, and investment are an important part of your referral strategy.
Here are 5 Ways You Can Build New Client Referral Sources:
1. Create a Professional Listing on HealthProfs
Your online presence is an important factor in driving new clientele to your practice. Online professionals listings and directories provide an easy way for clients to find your practice through a quick online search. HealthProfs is one such healthcare directory that aims to help wellness professionals, including wellness coaches and dietitians, reach their prospective clients. Many healthcare directories like HealthProfs have recently emerged as easily accessible ways in finding, and booking, with a specific provider. When prospective clients search for “personal nutritionist” or “dietitian programs” in your zip code, they will find your professional listing in their search results.
Apart from having a website, having a professional listing will help add legitimacy to your practice. Prospective clients can feel reassured that your business is real and your services are the right fit for their needs. Taking the time to craft a profile that connects with your ideal client will help funnel the right clients to your practice. It will also highlight why you’re the best provider for them.
When using HealthProfs, clients will be able to connect with you via email or phone. If you don’t want to display your personal number, you’ll be able to keep your private number hidden. Instead, you’ll be issued an alternative number, and you’ll receive transcriptions of calls straight to your inbox.
👉 Tips for a successful HealthProfs profile:
- Connect with prospective clients by adding a picture to your profile. Clients find comfort in photos because it gives them an idea of who they are going to be working with.
- Even if your practice is virtual, try using photos of you in your workspace so your potential clientele feels more at ease during their first consult with their virtual counselor.
- Include your website in your professional listing. Having a website adds credibility to your business and is another way you can boost your online visibility to prospective clients.
- Write a personal statement that speaks to your client. It can be tempting to jump into your philosophy, approach or credentials – but these won’t compel clients. Instead, speak to the challenges that your ideal client may be experiencing and the health transformation you’ll help them achieve with your nutrition program.
- List 5 zip codes as the areas you service. HealthProfs allows you to select up to 5 zip codes, so be sure to include that many and choose zip codes where your ideal client is most likely to reside.
- Include a full list of all insurance plans that you currently accept.
Having a professional listing not only will boost your online presence, but it will increase your ability to gain new client referrals. When clients search for “dietitian in my zip code” on this site, they will see your HealthProfs profile listing. You want to make sure you target your listing – for instance, if your practice is completely virtual, add 5 different cities as your target market on your profile to display where you do a majority of your work. This adds adds professionalism and legitimacy to your business.
To get started, HealthProfs is free for the first 6 months and only $30/month afterward. There are no hidden fees with HealthProfs, making it an affordable investment as you launch your insurance-based nutrition practice.
2. List Your Nutrition Practice on ZocDoc
ZocDoc is an online medical care appointment booking service, designed for insurance-based wellness providers. Free to use for clients, it only requires clients to create a profile and list their insurance information. From there, they are able to search for a specific wellness provider in their location (ie. Dietitian/Nutritionist). After browsing provider profiles, ratings, and reviews, clients are able to book an appointment with the provider of their choice.
Besides finding the right dietitian within their network, prospective clients also want to find a nutrition professional who is tailored to their needs. With ZocDoc’s profiles, clients can filter listings by specialty and location, as well as which insurance they accept, languages spoken, and wellness provider gender.
Beyond an online directory, ZocDoc’s platforms allows clients to book appointments directly through their desktop and mobile app. More than ever, clients are choosing the convenience of online booking. When new or follow-up clients are ready to book their appointment, they can conveniently choose an available appointment time through their ZocDoc account. Your practice will be notified of the new booking and can confirm the appointment. Online appointment booking also eliminates the time providers need to spend answering phone calls, managing client scheduling and sending appointment reminders.
On pricing, ZocDoc is more expensive and has recently increased its rates for providers. They’ll charge a fee for every client that books an appointment with you, every time the client books through their site. Many providers will receive new clients through ZocDoc and then manage follow-up scheduling directly through their own scheduling tool. For insurance-based nutrition providers, ZocDoc can still be worth the investment as a client referral channel.
3. Verify Your Listing on Insurance Panels’ Internal Provider Directory
As you credential with insurance panels, you should be listed on their internal directory of wellness providers. When members sign into their insurance profile online or call their insurance company, they will be referred to a list of providers in their location.
During the credentialing process, it’s good practice to follow-up and confirm that you are listed as a Registered Dietitian or other specified profession in your indicated zip code. You may also want to confirm your specialty training such as eating disorders, pediatrics, or diabetes. This way when potential clients are looking for dietitians who accept their insurance, the right clients will be referred to your nutrition practice.
4. Build a Referral Network with Doctors
Once you accept insurance, doctors are more likely to refer to your practice. The truth is that doctors often are not referring to any dietitian in particular, either because they haven’t connected with any or don’t they know any who currently accept insurance.
One way to build your partnership with doctors and other specialists is by connecting with providers who are also working with your current clients. In your new client paperwork, you may want to include a field to capture the client’s primary care physician or referring physician’s contact information. Include a check-box giving you permission to contact your client’s doctor with updates on their nutritional care. Alternatively, you can capture this information during your client’s intake, and have them sign a Medical Consent Release Form.
With permission to contact your client’s medical provider, you can now send a referral letter or secure E Fax post-session.
👉 Structuring Your Referral Letters to Medical Providers:
- A brief nutrition assessment of your client for the medical provider to include in your shared client’s chart
- Relevant nutrition recommendations for the medical provider (ie. any additional blood work, supplementation or exam work that may be beneficial)
- Thank you for the client referral
- Close with your contact information and a statement on how you’d be happy to receive any other clients that may benefit from your nutrition counseling services.
You may also want to create a Nutrition Counseling Referral Form to give to doctors to use in their practice. For some insurance plans, a referral from a medical provider may even be a requirement to cover nutrition counseling services. Giving a referral form to medical providers with your contact information will make it easy, and efficient for other providers to refer clients
Share your Nutrition Counseling Referral Form with physicians and other healthcare professionals who refer clients to your practice. You can include a downloadable link on your website, or strategically reach out to any healthcare professionals in your area. Leverage this referral form to introduce your nutrition practice and build relationships with providers that share the same client-base as you.
Learn which client forms are essential when launching your wellness practice. View our free Healthie practice guide and download sample copies of each client form.
5. Connect with Other Insurance-Based Wellness Professionals
When building a client referral network, you may immediately think of primary care doctors. Although PCPs are and can be a great source of referrals, it’s also important to think of other insurance-based wellness providers on your clients care team. Some wellness professionals that generally serve as a great source of referrals for insurance-based nutrition professionals:
- Psychologists + therapists (LCSW, LMFTs, CBT-therapists)
- Physical therapists
- Eating disorder clinics or specialists
- OBGYNs, doulas or other women’s health specialists
👉 The Value of Collaborative Care:
An exceptional multi-disciplinary team consists of healthcare professionals who have the knowledge, expertise, and all of the strengths such as dedication and a hard-working mentality necessary to work together effectively in making decisions for their clients. Patients and families feel more at ease with this multidisciplinary approach to healthcare due to the fact that there is more of a centralized and solid form of communication between one another, resulting in more satisfied clients who become likely to refer your services to their friends and families.
It is essential to look for and maintain reputable referral sources for your insurance-based nutrition clients. As you refer your current clients to other wellness professionals, you will have the opportunity to collaborate in your client’s care. Referring clients and communicating with care team members will showcase the value of working with you as a nutrition provider. In time, this will help to receive new client referrals back to your practice.
Managing Client Referral Sources for Your Nutrition Practice
As you strategically build your client referral sources, having a centralized way to coordinate your client’s appointments and care becomes a priority. The administrative work required to run an insurance-based nutrition practice is no light task. Scheduling client appointments, obtaining new client paperwork, writing chart notes, creating insurance claims, and communicating your recommendations to other wellness providers are all but just a few of the tasks required.
Finding the right nutrition planning and health management software to streamline your nutrition practice and manage new clients can save your practice both time and resources. With the time saved, you can dedicate more client-facing hours to generate additional income for your practice.
Healthie is an all-in-one practice management platform designed for dietitians. In one, consolidated platform, Healthie offers all the HIPAA-compliant tools to manage:
- Client scheduling with automatic appointment reminders
- Automated new client paperwork that clients can electronically complete and sign
- EHR with included charting templates, or customize your own
- CMS 1500 claims creation
- Client billing for self-pay services or patient responsibility (copays, deductibles, denied coverage)
Make more time to grow your business.
Use a platform that automates the administrative, so you can focus on growth and care.