Academy of Chiropractic
MD Referral Program
Administrative Pillar – Program Infrastructure – Funding Your Outreach
William J Owens Jr DC DAAMLP CPC
“If you do NOT have a plan, you are part of someone else’s” – Terrance McKenna
Funding The Program
In the prior Consultation, Chiropractic and the Pharmaceutical Model, we discussed the basics of building a relationship with medical offices in your community. One of the pillars of that concept is the lunches; the more lunches you do, the more patients you will get. It doesn’t take all the MDs in your area to generate significant referrals; it takes a few practices. That’s it! The old 80/20 rule still rings true; 20% of your contacts will give you 80% of your referrals. Keep that in mind when you are out there meeting and building. Spend the time with the offices that have the most potential long term benefit and don’t forget about them when you are busy. If they are sending you patients, they trust and respect you. Take that seriously.
When it comes to any marketing campaign, we are constantly analyzing costs and results. The less you have to pay and the more money it generates, the better. In this case, lunches and your time are the two biggest costs to consider. Sweat equity is based on how busy you are and how much you can afford to be distracted and in my opinion, is the best type of equity. The MD Relationship Program leverages sweat equity and once the relationships are built, the passive component will kick in. Now, you will need to have FACE time with the MDs, but once they trust and refer, you will simply make the rounds and interact. Picture being a door to door salesman compared to stopping by a friend’s house. The latter is a lot less stressful and takes a whole lot less energy…
Back to the task at hand, funding your program. Let’s face it. We don’t want to pay for anything we don’t need to pay for and securing partnerships to share or eliminate costs is a great way to increase the results of any program. Here is a list of common companies or groups that are important to build relationships with. I have done this in the Buffalo area to the extent that I do not have to pay for MD lunches or dinners. (More on the dinners in another consultation!) This model is designed to secure corporate funds that are already allocated and use them to build your practices in a mutually beneficial relationship. (How is that for an official description?)
Remember, everyone is looking to find new referral sources. That includes medical specialists, electrodiagnostic testing companies, MRI facilities, bracing and electrostimulation representatives, surgeons (especially docs just out of residency), etc. You get the point. NEVER, EVER STOP SNIFFING AROUND AND BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS…This is your source of funding and in some cases, your foot in the door. All of these people bring relationships with them. Leverage their spending accounts and contacts in a respectful manner. Many sales people are required to spend money on dinners and lunches or face negative consequences. Make sure you help them succeed!
1: Electrodiagnostic Studies:
These can be either corporate entities or individual doctors. If it is an individual doctor, then generally partnering to cover expenses is a great idea. If corporate, tap into their marketing budgets. The idea is the busier you get, the more potential for patients that require testing and in turn, the busier they get. Some may not even want to be there with you. They may just want to be part of your MD Relationship Program. If you have someone that you refer to already, “team up” with them. If you don’t, find ONE group and work with them. Send them a few referrals first before you call. That way they know you have the people to send.
2: Bracing and TENS Reps:
For me, this is how I fund the lunches. This company is a national company that has regional and local reps that have proprietary muscle stimulators, braces and traction units. The rep actually comes to my office to fit the patient and instruct him/her on home use, increasing ACTIVE care which is important to document. We have worked together for the last 5 years or so and it has been VERY beneficial. He has brought medical offices and lawyers to me and I have referred patients. He has become number 6 in the country based on what we are doing with him in little old Buffalo, NY! Essentially, he has put chiropractic on the corporate map, as all other reps use MDs. That is good for him and for chiropractic! The best part about the lunches he provides is that I do not have to concentrate on calling the restaurant or making sure the lunch is delivered. He does that…I work with the MD office, always making sure that I am in control of that contact and the entire process, but I delegate the food coordination to the rep. We have MUCH better lunches when he is buying! One last word, they WILL LOOK AT YOUR REFERRAL NUMBERS….As the old saying goes, there is no such things as a FREE LUNCH!
3: Surgical Supply Reps:
This is a relationship that I just started and is brand new to me, but I wanted to share this with you…I am almost certain this is a unique relationship nationally and it most certainly is in my area. I was speaking over lunch with the surgeon that I work with about getting into primary care offices and the MD Referral Program. When I mentioned the National Research Program Supporting Cooperative Spine Care he said, “You know, my surgical supply rep would totally be into that idea. Why don’t you call him?” Well, I jumped all over that! The idea is that a surgical rep is also very restricted on what he/she can and can’t do and dinners are part of what they CAN do. If I get busy, it only stands to reason that I will have patients to refer to the surgeon and that surgeon’s rep gets to provide more tools to the surgeon (benefits of working with ONE surgeon). Always keep your ear to the rail and be thinking these relationships through. This particular rep specializes in kyphoplasty, which is where they balloon up a compression fracture, then basically fill it with cement. We will target the trauma and geriatric communities…Guess who will also benefit from that patient base??? Okay, think really hard….Ah, yes, imaging facilities. We need to screen people for osteopenia/osteoporosis and need CTs on those with radiographic abnormalities. See how we work as a pack?
4: Imaging Facilities:
This is really an easy one, but how you “sell” yourself is key. The facility that I work with is a full service radiology group OWNED BY RADIOLOGISTS not BUSINESSMEN/WOMEN that provide plain film, CT, MRI, dexa, nuclear medicine, DMX, etc. They will definitely benefit from trauma patients, geriatrics and general spine care patients. Again, I work with ONE facility and ONE facility only. I don’t “spread out” my imaging referrals. The only docs that have more referrals to this facility than me right now are the surgeons, which makes these radiologists want to continue to work with me. If you build this relationship properly, getting to know the doctors and asking them questions, you’ll also see a benefit in the way you and your patients are treated by them. With almost ten years of this relationship, I am able to call their office to get a patient in for an immediate scan and then call the reading doc afterward to discuss the results. This is invaluable communication and really improves patient care. Learn from them. If you see something on the report that you don’t know about, call and ask…That is how we all learn. Why read a book when you can ask a radiologist? Use your curiosity to build friendships. Imaging facilities will fund you if you are on their radar screen. They will help you to host breakfasts, dinners and large presentations. They are best used for bigger events.
5: Other Chiropractic Offices:
Build a “network” of like-minded and driven chiropractic offices to build a regional grid. Doctors feel more comfortable referring to a group than an individual, especially if their patients are spread out over a larger area. Working with a group can take time in the beginning, but once it is established, you can rotate duties. In the Buffalo area with this program, we have a group of 4 DCs in offices that span 1 hour and 20 minutes driving distance. We are all promoting one another. That way we have exposure all across Western New York, but only meet with medical offices in our individual areas. The network of DCs is important to funding because it supports the other funding sources. The bracing rep was interested in me because I could bring 3 other offices with me. The surgeon and imaging centers loved the automatic referral sources from additional offices. They love groups because they get connected to new referral sources.
There are multiple sources of funding and ways to make things happen. It is up to you to become as creative as possible. Make friends and things will happen.