Free and Effective Method for Increasing Hospice Referrals: You’ll never believe you didn’t think of this yourself! by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

Monday, 31 Mar 2014 15:29

About Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy (120 Posts)

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, who practices in one of the largest emergency departments in the United States at Huntsville Hospital. Through her writing and speaking, she is devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Media Page

My step-father likes to tease a lot. One of his favorite sayings is, “Even a blind bird sometimes gets a worm!” That’s what I feel like with this BIG tip that I am about to share with you…

You see, I serve on the Board of Directors for two non-for-profit hospices (Hospice Family Care and the Los Angeles Hospice at Anam Cara), so I know how hospices are always strenuously brainstorming on how to get more market-share and how to get more referrals. I have on occasion offered a few weak suggestions to which everyone responds in a polite but we’ve-already-tried-that-one kind of way. Let me assure you, this idea is different. This idea is one whose power I learned first-hand as a physician…

So, here it is…

Are you ready?

You’ll never believe you didn’t think of this yourself!

So, simple…

Just have the hospice patient and/or family write a personalized thank-you letter to the referring doctor!!!

Here is why this works. You see, as a doctor, and I know what it’s like to have drug reps and service marketers come up to me and try to get me to use the “best and newest” medication or the “best” service. Do you know what my brain does in response to these requests?

(Yawn…..) Then I think, “Hmm, did you bring donuts?”

OK. Now this is why my recommendation is so radically different…

You see, on the rare occasion that I get a “thank you letter” (and even more, rarely, a “thank you visit”) from a former patient or their families, something totally amazing happens to me.

I feel warmth in my heart. I smile. I forget that I am tired or hungry. For a moment, I think that I have the best job in the whole world… and most importantly, Whatever I did to make that patient or family “thank me”… whatever I did, well I want to do that OVER AND OVER AGAIN!! It’s like hitting the Jackpot in the physician’s heart! He or she will want to do “that” (ie. make that hospice referral) over and over again!

So, when the time is right, bring a pre-addressed stamped envelope bearing the referring physician’s name and office address to your hospice patients and their families. Say something along the lines of this: “If you are grateful for our services, please send your doctor a little thank you note so that he/she will know that he/she made a good decision by referring you to our care. We will even drop it in the mail for you.”

“Ah ha!” you are saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” :)


–Again, doctors listen to two groups of people primarily, patients and other doctors. I am happy to be the “other doctor” who makes the argument for hospice as the way to best serve our patients at the end of life! I do this in the easy-to-read book, It’s OK to Die. Give it as a “thank-you” gift to your doctors! For bulk purchases of 10 books or more, the price drops to $8 per book with only $1 shipping per book (in the Continental US). Email me if you are interested in this discount:

(Photo credit:

Our Book: It's OK to Die

"It's OK to Die" is a ground-breaking book filled with graphic stories straight out of the Emergency Room illustrating how most Americans are completely unprepared for death and dying. In response, the authors have created a unique and comprehensive guide urging EVERYONE to prepare in advance, to assure their own peace and to prevent the suffering of their loved ones.
Learn More..

5 thoughts on “Free and Effective Method for Increasing Hospice Referrals: You’ll never believe you didn’t think of this yourself! by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

  1. Pingback: Free and Effective Method for Increasing Hospice Referrals: You’ll never believe you didn’t think of this yourself! by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD | It’s OK to Die | All Things Palliative - Article Feed

  2. Rea

    Ah ha! The power of marketing psychology, directly from an insider. It’s free. It’s nice. It works. It’s certainly win-win. How could it be better?!? :)

  3. Rea

    By the way, buy the book, too!! It’s a true gem, definitely ready to read! So read it and harvest the gains. Give the gift as well! Another win-win waiting for your decision.

  4. Jo Carol Smith


    Thanks for the tip. I work for a not for profit hospice in a small town, about 25,000, in Texas. I spend most of time doing community outreach and education. This is a great idea. I struggle with getting physicians to refer in a timely member. Any words of wisdom on this? It is so sad when we get someone for a few days, the patient doesn’t have the time to develop the relationships nor do we have the time to build relationships with the family. Thanks again for your insight.

    1. Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy Post author

      Hi Jo Carol!
      I commiserate with your frustrations about “late” referrals to hospice. Main problem is that physicians see death as a form of failure (this point has multiple nuances). One statement which I use with docs to give them the opportunity to “win” again even in the face of death is something to this effect: “With the same energy that you put into giving your patients a “good life” and “healing” them, with that same energy you need to assure that they have a “good end” to their lives and a “good death”.”

      Consider making some form of that statement into a card to give to the local docs. It will give them something to think about!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.