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Building Physician Office Relationships

3 minutes, 33 seconds

The Best Ways to Follow-Up with a Doctor's Office  

In the physical therapy industry, it is a well-documented fact that physicians - and their support personnel - generally refer patients to people that they know and trust. If they don't know and trust you and your clinic(s), they likely will have constructed a relationship with someone else in your market.  You may still receive some referrals, but you will probably not be the provider of choice. You often will only be given a small portion of the referral potential from that doctor's practice. So, how do you become a preferred vendor?  How do you become a doctor's partner versus being just another PT clinic? In most cases, it is accomplished through relationship building techniques. The more well-known you are to the physicians in your city, the more referrals you will receive and the more your practices will grow. The following ideas can - and should - be put into play in each of your markets:

Communicating with Physicians and What to Ask Your Referral Sources

  • Ask physicians for a stack of their business cards to distribute to patients who may need someone in their specialty. If you find a way to give back to doctors, you will  become their partner versus just being a vendor.
  • Call the physician to discuss a specific patient's care and treatment.
  • Keep physician profile sheets on each doctor's office. Take notes on your calls to uncover clinical and personal information.  Use that information to your advantage - i.e. send birthday or anniversary cards.
  • Meet and get to know everyone in the doctor's office, including the front desk personnel, PA's, medical assistants, referral coordinator, office manager, x-ray tech, etc.
  • Discuss and ask for a certain patient segment or demographic, such as a certain diagnosis, patients in a specific location, or patients with a specific insurance plan. Be clear with your requests.
  • Review the various diagnoses sent by a specific physician and set up a meeting with that doctor to discuss those diagnoses, your general treatment protocols, and anything the doctor wants you to do.
  • Have detailed discussions with the other decision makers in physician's offices regarding what their needs are with reports, scheduling, pre-certifications, insurances, programs, etc.
  • Distribute physical therapy related articles to physicians to keep them informed and updated.
  • Hand delivers initial evaluations, weekly summaries, discharge summaries and Medicare plans-of-care to doctor's offices. Always a good way to get past the front desk and see the doctor.
  • Share patient satisfaction scores, letters from satisfied patients, and other success stories with physicians.
  • Ask for office manager's advice on office related issue or invite them to address your office in their area of expertise.
  • Institute a direct fax campaign to a doctor's office. You could fax information on your clinic or an article of interest.
  • Identify the top road block for a physician's office and eliminate it. Ask, What can we do to get that first patient?
  • Call or fax available appointment slots to a physician's office (or even better, do it in person). Let them know when you have open evaluation slots in the schedule.
  • Send follow-up notes to physicians to update them on post-discharge patient status.
  • Always send thank you note to physicians and key staff after lunches reinforcing the key points that we discussed.

When Visiting Physician Offices

  • Hand deliver new medical researcher in support of PT to physicians.
  • Introduce a new staff therapist to a doctor.
  • Review your referring physician's insurance list.  How does your payer mix match up with theirs? How can we better strategize regarding their office?
  • Deliver prescription pads and updated insurance lists. Your referring physicians need this information all the time.
  • Educate the doctor's office to fax the script to your office and we will pre-certify and schedule the patient for them.
  • Deliver cards or small gifts to the physician's office for non-traditional holidays like St. Patrick's Day, the first day of spring, Nurse's Day, etc.
  • Place informational brochures in the physician's office waiting room.
  • Hand deliver articles of interest to the physician with a note explaining why you are sharing the information.  It could be PT related or could be information from your local business journal.
  • Refer to a Healthcare Calendar of Events to target physician's offices. There are Doctor's Day, Nurses Day, Administrative Assistant Day, etc.
  • Send or hand deliver hand-written thank you notes to contacts that you meet in offices.
  • Send or hand deliver hand-written thank you notes to all new referral sources and those who haven't sent in a long time.

As you can see, there are many ways to build relationships with doctors and their offices. In our extremely competitive environment, we need to always think outside the box of ways to develop, augment and maintain the interactions we have with our referral sources.