This is a guest post by Dr. Jonathan Walker
For most chiropractors, receiving referrals from medical physicians is looked upon with a healthy dose of skepticism. If you’ve been in practice for a long time you likely remember a day when MDs would just as soon refer their patient to a witch doctor as a chiropractor. If you’re newer to the profession you might feel intimidated by the prospect of trying to explain the neurophysiology of spinal manipulation to a seasoned medical veteran.
There is no single “magic phrase” to open the referral floodgate, but there are 3 crippling fears keep MDs from referring patients for chiropractic care. These are not pie in the sky theories, but rather secrets I’ve learned from marketing to over 300 medical providers in my area as well as working with doctors all over the country.
1. Fear #1: You’ll steal their patient
Regardless of what variety of conditions you treat in your practice, when working with MDs your emphasis must be that you’re a specialist in conservative musculoskeletal care and will not try and usurp their role as the patient’s primary care provider (PCP).
I always make sure to tell other doctors that we do not function as PCPs, but that we find patients are best served when their chiropractor and medical physicians are all communicating together. This gives them the comfort that you won’t try and undermine their treatment of the patient. We expect professional respect and courtesy from MD and this goes both ways, even when you may disagree with a particular element of their management plan.
As a matter of fact it’s a good business (and social) practice to go out of your way to tell the patient what a great doctor they have and what good hands they’re in. Odds are this compliment will make it back to the referring physician, and that’s always a good thing!
2. Fear #2: They don’t really understand what chiropractors do
Most MDs seem to view chiropractic in the same light as many chiropractors do acupuncture. They believe that there is validity to the treatment, but they don’t know a lot about how it actually works.
This fear is easily conquered by ongoing education to provide familiarity with chiropractic, our level of expertise in treating musculoskeletal conditions, and the latest peer-reviewed research. For all of my PI Marketing Elite doctors we recommend one print, one electronic (e-mail) and one live contact a month. We provide cutting-edge MD newsletters and e-newsletters 100% “done for you” to make this process automatic.
3. Fear #3: Their patient will get a 6 month long treatment plan on their first visit to your office
I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of recommending long courses of care with cash pre-payment, but I do want to point out that if you want to receive medical referrals MDs cringe at the idea of a 6 month long treatment plan given on the first visit.
I explain that in my office we do a trial course of care, typically lasting anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending on the patient’s condition. At the end of the trial we reassess the patient and if they’re making progress we start spacing out the time between visits and giving them home exercises to do.
This type of approach fits the paradigm they’re used to working within when they refer to a physical therapist, so in their minds you then become a viable option for referrals.
By preemptively dealing with these three common fears you’ll unlock an untapped goldmine of referrals, and help countless patients find relief with chiropractic care. I’ve seen it work first-hand in my own practice, and you can replicate this success in your office!
Dr. Jonathan Walker is president of PI Marketing Elite, and a full-time practicing chiropractor. MD marketing is a key area addressed in the marketing modules of PI Marketing Elite, and we provide you with turnkey tools, scripts, and strategies to use in your practice. Log onto www.newpimarketing.com or call Dr. Walker directly at 904-616-1284.