A step-by-step plan for developing relationships with MDs the right way as part of your new patient acquisition strategy
Developing relationships with medical doctors is a great avenue for attracting patients into your practice, as they are willing to refer if they know about you and how you can help their patients produce better outcomes. Many MDs have thousands of patients in their practices, including patients whose health issues are not fully addressed by drugs and surgery, inviting a new patient acquisition strategy on the part of chiropractors.
According to the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) it’s expected that there will be a significant shortage of primary care and specialty care physicians by 2033. The United States could see an estimated shortage of 54,100-139,000 physicians, including shortfalls in both primary and specialty care, by 2033. With a current and increasing need for health care, chiropractors are well-positioned to contribute more expansively to patient care in the U.S. health care system.
MD referrals are stickier
Referrals from MDs are also more likely to move forward with chiropractic care and stick with it. Imagine having three MDs sending you just two referrals per week. That’s 24 new patients a month.
Having helped many visionary acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, and functional medicine practitioners with growing and fulfilling six- to seven-figure practices “the introverted way,” let me share the best strategy to develop relationships with MDs for a new patient acquisition strategy.
How to begin
Getting referrals from MDs and other practitioners sounds like a great idea. But a lot of chiropractors aren’t sure of the best way to get started. How do you approach MDs to develop relationships?
When we understand a typical MD’s experiences we can engage more effectively with MDs. This is where the right strategy can make or break a relationship with MDs.
Sometimes MDs simply don’t have an understanding of how chiropractic can help. Others do but are limited in their understanding of the scope of how you can help their patients. Or it may be as simple as them not resonating with you on a personal level. MDs are less likely to refer to you under that circumstance, even if they feel like your modality can help their patient.
Many chiropractors make the mistake of expecting too much of a new patient acquisition strategy without putting at least some sort of concerted effort into it.
For example, a mistake often made by some chiropractors is sending out a letter to many MDs in the area without a strategy. MD offices frequently receive all kinds of mail from people and organizations, which is why sending such a letter can be challenging. Sending a letter without a strategy can lower the odds of receiving referrals. You need to build trust and develop long-lasting relationships to get MD referrals.
A new patient acquisition strategy and getting your foot in the door
A hot tip that is working right now is sending a short video. What’s so great about this strategy is a video can be created once and sent to many MDs, and it feels more personal, without the need for creating something new every time.
You could alternatively go the extra mile and record a personal intro for each doctor. If you don’t like the idea of creating a video that can do the work for you over and over again, there are other approaches you can use. Reach out to MDs in your area via LinkedIn messaging, call their office, or stop by to inform them about your practice and how it can be complementary to the care they provide their patients.
One of our chiropractor clients is successfully connecting with MDs through LinkedIn, then setting up a Zoom call.
Once you have their attention
Many medical doctors are just like you, trying to give patients the best care. If they’re concerned about safety or efficacy, they most likely won’t refer their patients to you.
This is why communicating the right way is essential. One of the biggest mistakes often made is having a good conversation with an MD and expecting referrals without bringing up why they should give you referrals. If it is about developing relationships first, how can you build a long-lasting relationship early on that benefits both parties? Part of it comes down to how you frame things.
For example, does the following script sound familiar:
“If you have any patients who could benefit from chiropractic care, send them to me.”
That is how some chiropractors encourage MDs to send referrals. But if we reframe that to make it more effective, we could approach with something like this:
“I’d love to hear more about your practice. I’m looking for a good (insert physician’s type of practice) to send my patients to when the need arises. What’s your philosophy or approach?”
When you use this script, the conversation is more about them. And early in the relationship, this is a setup for a win-win. MDs like the idea of getting referrals even if they are busy with patients.
Set the stage for a relationship
Developing relationships with MDs and other health care providers will help your patients mutually. It doesn’t have to be intimidating.
Some chiropractors manage to have full practices primarily from MD referrals after implementing their new patient acquisition strategy. How incredible would it be to have the kind of practice where patients are coming in the door while you look to fit them into your tight, busy schedule? What’s important is being strategic about approaching MDs. Setting the stage for a great relationship frames the benefits to all parties, including the increasing number of patients you will help.
CHEN YEN is a national speaker and founder of Fill My Holistic Practice, providing introverted visionary chiropractors a step-by-step process and specific guidance to grow a six- to seven- figure practice that runs without them. Clients include a past president of the American Chiropractic Association Sports Council, a recent president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and a board member of the American Society of Acupuncturists. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through introvertedvisionary.com.