Cultivating Relationships with Medical Doctors Can Lead to Productive Referral Sources

Cultivating Relationships with Medical Doctors
Can Lead to Productive Referral Sources

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Thanks to Today's Chiropractic for permission to reproduce this article!

By Tedd Koren, D.C.

At one time, I had an office on the sixth floor of a building across from Philadelphiaís Hahnemann Hospital. Several orthopedists from the hospital had leased a large suite on the second floor, and when things would be slow in my office and I was a bit bummed out, Iíd go for a walk and peek in their waiting room.

It was filled. Ugh! What a masochist I was! I became really depressed.

The sad fact is, though, that weíre still in a very medical-oriented society, and people visit their M.D.s a lot. A whole lot.

Notorious bank robber Willie Sutton was once asked, "Why do you rob banks?"

"Because thatís where the money is," he replied.

So where should we be looking for patients? Letís take a tip from Willie Sutton: Seek them from medical doctors, because thatís where the patients are.

Cultivating Relationships

I want the local M.D.s to start referring their patients to me, but the trick is approaching them.

Donít call the medical doctor and say, "Hi, Iím Dr. Jones, your local chiropractor, and Iíd like for you to start referring patients to me."

It wonít work.

Hereís a much better way: Say, "Hi, Iím Dr. Jones. Iím a chiropractor and on occasion my patients ask me about or need medical care. Iíd like to get together with you to discuss referring my patients to you and other M.D.s I can have a relationship with."

Tailor your words to their specialty.

Letís face it, occasionally people need medical care, and it would be nice to know local medical doctors that you can have a civil and productive relationship with. Now the fun starts. Ask the M.D. if you can meet, perhaps over lunch (you should pay the first time), and possibly you can visit their office.

Thatís right Ė actually eat with them. If things go well, have lunch another time and invite them to see your office.

Will they scream "quack" at you and slam down the phone? Maybe they would have 20 or 30 years ago, but it rarely happens anymore. Why? I could cite the Wilk trial, the Eisenberg study or changing patient preferences, but the best reason why M.D.s will often leap at the chance to meet you is found in two words: managed care.

You think you have trouble? Medical doctors are checking themselves into stress clinics and suffering from possible financial ruin. They know that patients are excited about our care and alternative care in general. They think weíre all rolling in dough, driving expensive foreign cars and with no cash worries. Yes, they want to meet you.

Iím reminded of a phone call I got one evening from my brother Jeff, who is an obstetrician-gynecologist surgeon in Orlando, Fla.

"Tedd, how can I get to meet the local chiropractors?" he inquired. "Managed care is killing me. I need to build my referral base."

They want to meet you. So meet. Be nice. At the first luncheon, the talk may be more about their practices, but at the second luncheon tell them about your practice, invite them to your office and get their regular mail and/or E-mail address to send them your newsletter. You may wish to edit it specifically for your M.D., D.O., O.D., D.D.S., D.M.D., etc. contacts. Donít forget podiatrists, dentists (especially the mercury-free ones) and optome-trists (especially the behavioral specialists), and Iím sure youíll think of others.

Starting The Education Process

At the second get-together, donít forget to give them literature relating spinal care to health and disease. The materials from our book and CD, Chiropractic and Spinal Research, are ideal for that, especially since Iíve included medical as well as chiropractic research. Copy or print out a few pages of studies.

If youíre contacting pediatricians, show them some research about chiropractic and infants and children.

Show OB-GYNs research about chiropractic and menstrual disorders, PMS, pelvic conditions, etc., and especially tell them about chiropractic and infertility. About 1 in 5 couples have fertility problems, and OB-GYNs are often at a loss of what to do. You get the picture.

Donít be too surprised if you get an added bonus: Theyíll become patients.

They may bring in their families for care. Remember the van Breda study comparing the children of M.D.s to those of D.C.s? Maybe you better not show it to them initially, because it might make them defensive.

Also, use caution on the vaccination issue. Chances are, it will freak them out. Play it by ear.

Send your doctors a newsletter (either by mail or E-mail). Have lots of lunches to get lots of names. You might offer to speak to the local medical society or some informal groups they have in order to introduce them to inter-professional cooperation.

So thatís it Ė a great way to get lots of referrals without spending (almost) any money. This works. Feel free to call or write with any questions. I also want to hear how your practice has grown since using this strategy.

I know D.C.s who now get half their new patient referrals from M.D.s using techniques similar to these. Thatís right, I said half. Remember: You do something unique, something they are not trained to do Ė locate and correct subluxations. Let them know that.

Youíre not a pseudo-M.D. Youíre a first-rate D.C. And they need you. The world needs your services. Let them know how people get sick and stay sick, in pain and die because of lack of an adjustment.

Remember, almost all of D.D. Palmerís first students were M.D.s or osteopaths. Who knows? Under your influence, your new referral sources might enroll in chiropractic college. Imagine how many referrals theyíll send to you then!

Tedd Koren, D.C., a 1977 Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic graduate, is a noted author who lectures on chiropractic philosophy, research and mind-body-spine relationships. His company offers chiropractic patient education literature and other tools, including posters, stickers and booklets. For a free catalog, samples or ordering information, write to Koren Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 665, Gwynedd Valley, PA 19437; call (800) 537-3001; E-mail; or visit Web site


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