How to Create MD Referrals
How to Create MD Referrals
by Honora Lee Wolfe
It’s true that if you can create a referral relationship with a couple local MDs, it helps you build a practice and keep it full. But where to start? First, remember that there are 12-13 times as many MDs as acupuncturists in the US. With a plan and some persistence, this can be done! Here are my ideas.
- When you first open your clinic, write to the MDs in the area. Let them know you are seeking MDs to whom you can refer patients and with whom you can create a long-term mutual referral relationship. This may not get you an immediate response, but do it anyway. It may be more effective if you have a specialty and are reaching out to specialists in the same field. For example, you can tell orthopedic surgeons that you specialize in post-op rehabilitation, pain reduction, faster healing times and return to normal life activities. Make sure to enclose your biz card, any relevant research, brochures, or articles from the general press.
- With each new patient history, there should be a place for the patient to list his/her PCP or specialist and that doctor’s contact information. There should also be a release of records form. For any patient who is happy to have you contact their doctor, send the release of records with a standard letter telling the doctor you are beginning care for their patient to ameliorate symptoms of XYZ, you’d like to be able to contact them with any changes in the patient’s status, to send the patient back to them for any needed follow up, changes in meds, or for evaluation at the end of your treatment protocol. Include your card and brochure.
- When there are significant positive changes with a patient (improved function, less pain, abatement of negative symptoms, better lab results), let the doctor know about it. Include your card again.
- If the patient requests to have a medication that causes significant side effects lowered to see how your treatment is working, contact the MD to discuss this, first by letter, then by phone. Be persistent.
- When you discharge a patient from care whose condition is improved, send a form letter about that as well, along with another card.
- Spell check and proofread your letters. Don’t misspell the Greek and Latin medical terms (or the regular English ones either!).
Eventually this doctor has received several letters (and business cards) from you. The next time that doctor is asked by a patient to recommend an acupuncturist, you just might be the one to get the referral.
Finally, if you want to get to know the front desk staff at local MD offices, get some coffee mugs made with your logo and phone number, fill with chocolate kisses and your biz cards, and screw up your courage to deliver these in person. Dress nicely. All you have to do is smile, say you are an acupuncture practitioner nearby, just wanted to introduce yourself, please feel free to contact you with any questions. Thank them for their time.
While not as easy as having your long-time family doctor sending you patients right after graduation, it can work. And the same as any other form of sales, remember that the person who is willing to hear “no” the most is, in the end, the person who will hear “yes” the most.
Honora Wolfe is co-author of Points for Profit: The Essential Guide to Practice Success for Acupuncturists. You can see all her books, classes, and blog archive at www.bluepoppy.com/blog. Download Honora’s free ebook at www.honoraontheroad2012.com
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