The Inside Scoop: Why Physicians Don’t Refer Patients to You

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As a chiropractor, do you get a lot of referrals from physicians? If you’re like most, the answer is NO. Ever wonder why? The truth is that most physicians’ caseloads include patients for whom they know are not benefiting from pills, shots and physical therapy. They would LOVE to refer these difficult cases to someone that they trust and that they know will provide an option better than surgery. So why don’t they refer patients to chiropractors more often? To answer that question, we interviewed a number of doctors to understand their reasons. This post reviews the top 3 reasons—straight from the docs themselves—that they don’t refer patients to you. You may be surprised at their answers. 1. Billing Practices. Physicians are not comfortable with the fact that many chiropractic clinics charge up-front fees before initiating treatment, with no guarantees and no ability to discontinue therapy. This practice is unheard of in the medical community. It goes against the grain of physicians whose practices are based on a pay-as-you-go basis that allows patients to be in control of their care and to make the decision concerning continuing or stopping treatment. If you want to receive referrals from physicians, you’ll need to mirror their pay-as-you-go model. It doesn’t matter how much you charge per treatment. It doesn’t mean you have to lower your costs. It just means you need to stop the up-front billing. 2. Lack of Professional Communications. Standard practice in the medical community calls for communications and information to the referring physician throughout the treatment cycle. When a physician refers a patient to a specialist, their referral is accompanied with all the relevant patient records. Specialists, in turn, regularly provide the referring physician with reports pertaining to findings, recommendations and ongoing patient status. This two-way communication is expected. Unfortunately, most chiropractors have not assimilated this standard of information sharing common in medical practice. By not communicating regularly, relationships with physicians are negatively impacted. To remedy the situation, start building bridges by sending a report to the referring physician for every referred patient you see. Your communications will reflect a professional and ethical reflection of how you practice. It will demonstrate that you respect the physician and that you are ready to be a TEAM player in helping to mutually treat patients. 3. Lack of Reciprocal Referrals. In addition to expecting shared communications and medical records, physicians expect that the patient be referred back to them. This expectation generally goes unmet. Chiropractors typically do not refer patients to other medical professionals. In some cases, such as those listed below, it is important to refer the patient back to the referring physician or emergency care: • The patient has not responded to chiropractic treatment • The patient’s pain has worsened • There are signs of increasing neurologic deficits • The patient experiences a medical emergency In other cases, it is in the patients’ best interests to cooperate with other health care professionals that treat back or neck pain. Integrating other health care professionals in a multidisciplinary approach can provide more comprehensive treatment, which can benefit the patient. In either case, physicians who receive referrals from you will appreciate it and you will increase your referral network. You may be surprised to learn that you can develop a referral base with physicians. By adjust your fee structure, communicating regularly and referring patients to physicians, you can meet their expectations and develop productive relationships that will help you build your spinal decompression practice. How often do you refer patients to physicians? Promote your clinic as the "Go To" clinic for medical doctors in your area. Check out our customized, branded, professional Medical Doctor Referral Packet here:

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