MD Affiliation Program

Consultation #86

 From the Desk of:

William J Owens Jr DC, DAAMLP, CPC

How are you “perceived” in the community?


Whether you realize it or not, your patients will comment on you when asked, especially from a co-treating doctor that has referred them to you. Believe me…I know, I ALWAYS ask…it is a way that I keep tabs on who I refer to, information is king. I ask questions like, “did you wait long?”, “what did they say was wrong with you?”, “did they know that I sent you?” and “where you happy that I sent you there?”. As an example, I had a meeting with a physical medicine MD that does EMGs yesterday. The long and short of it is that aside for him getting referrals FROM me to do EMG, he invited me to be involved on another project. The reason I was invited he said was because every patient of mine that he encountered talked about how excellent their care has been and how they feel taken care of. Chiropractic has always had excellent patient satisfaction rates and patients do talk. In the situations where MDs still have their heads in the 1970s and do not understand chiropractic there is little that you can do to change that. On the other hand the other 90% that do embrace chiropractic there are three aspects to your relationship that are important and relate directly to how you are perceived. ALWAYS remember that they will refer to YOU before they refer to CHIROPRACTIC, then it is your job to educate them.

The MD will embrace chiropractic based on the following three things (in no particular order):

1. Your Clinical and Business Reputation

This comes down to you having a reputation for properly investigating and diagnosing patient conditions and not cutting corners. Short reports that omit information that is considered “standard” in healthcare documentation will shoot you in the foot. This is often the first time that a MD will encounter you and your work. The information in your reports is EQUAL to the care that you give your patients. You need to make time and find technical solutions to make this happen. Great patient care AND great reporting, peanut butter and chocolate…you get the point.

The second aspect is how successful you are in practice. Your focus on building YOUR practice is so that you have patients to refer. The referral is the #1 attention getter. When you are inviting MDs to your practice, invite them when you are finishing up and make sure that you reception area is full when they arrive.

2. Your patient’s perception of you and your office –

Your patients have real perceptions of you, your practice and your staff. As far as you the doctor are concerned it is about the care you provide, your ability to explain to it to them, your ability to refer/ coordinate care and your overall “doctoring”. Regarding the office and staff it is about decreasing STRESS when they come in and being attentive to their needs. My office is always focused on insulating the patient from as much of the BS associated with their care as possible. That is not so say that we don’t communicate that their insurance plan sucks or they were denied visits, but we will help them in any way that we can. One of the biggest STRESSORS in an office is wait times. I debrief my patients when they come back from a referral and when there is a negative comment, 90% of the time it is about how long they waited. There is nothing wrong with patients waiting in a busy practice and most patients understand that it will be a few minutes before they are seen, but you need to keep this in perspective. In my opinion there is a problem if a patient has to wait more than 30 minutes on the busiest part of the day. They have the option of scheduling during a less busy time, which is something that is coordinated by the front desk staff. When the schedule is filling up we can offer to move them around that time. That is the first line of defense against an unreasonable wait time. The second line of defense is you. When it’s busy cut the chit-chat and focus on what you are doing and get the patient out the door. They appreciate that if you communicate it properly. You can be busy and people can wait for you, but respect them and their time, it will benefit you in the long run. The last thing you want is to work hard to establish relationships and have a patient mention to the referring doctor that they waited over an hour. That is when they stop referring because the PERCEPTION is that you are TOO busy. Don’t let that happen, protect your referral stream.

3: Your ability to help them in their practice

This is ALWAYS an overlooked area in 95% of chiropractic offices. Your ability to build relationships also gives you the leverage needed to help others succeed. If you are good at working with primary care doctors and are getting referrals, there are medical specialists that will LOVE to co-treat with you. If you are good at working with lawyers the same holds true. The doctor that controls the relationships and referrals controls the game. The more of that you have, the more powerful you become…medical providers what to be your friend. Focus on building them and you will grow…trust me, it works VERY, VERY well. {jcomments on}

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