Personal injury referrals serves as the entry point for new patients for doctors of chiropractic
In the field of personal injury (PI), chiropractic is the clear winner — the top medical specialty in this field. If you aren’t intentionally building the personal injury referrals segment of your business, then you are leaving opportunities on the table.
PI as an entry point for patients
Most people (and even some medical peers) are unsure of how to categorize chiropractic care. They lump it in with yoga and meditation. Clear misunderstanding exists of how broad chiropractic treatments can be, so most patients do not consider chiropractic care when suffering from headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue, digestive problems, or the myriad other ailments chiropractic care successfully addresses.
In PI, though, chiropractic care is usually the first medical stop. Personal injury referrals serves as the entry point for patients who might not have otherwise turned to a chiropractor for pain relief. When an attorney refers a patient to a chiropractor, the patient maintains their visit, even if just to move the case forward, and regardless of that patient’s prior notions about chiropractic care.
Retaining personal injury referrals
Once the patient meets you and your staff, then, a unique opportunity exists for showcasing your full field of expertise and changing the perception of chiropractic.
You can educate patients about the value and benefits of chiropractic care as a non-medication and non-interventional approach to all sorts of pain relief. Do these new patients know that you also treat tension headaches, joint pain, allergies and other maladies? Do they know chiropractors treat not just adults and teens, but some specialize in infant care? Most patients do not, so PI offers an opportunity for you to educate your target audience — letting new patients know the array of benefits and scope chiropractic can offer in terms of a non-drug, non-surgical approach to wellness and pain relief.
The attorney/DC relationship
In a PI case, patients (and their attorneys) have multiple forms of compensation: liability policies, health insurance, disability, unemployment, life insurance benefits, and claims against governmental entities responsible for such things as road maintenance.
But the primary in PI is pain-and-suffering damages, which are awarded via a subjective decision made by a judge or jury. While medical providers don’t get a bonus for pain-and-suffering damages, the awarding of those damages is what allows the attorney, patient and provider to be properly compensated.
Attorneys in PI cases are paid on a contingency basis, meaning they are paid a percentage of a successful outcome. They are not paid if the patient loses the case. This makes pain-and-suffering awards a double win: The patient is awarded more, and the attorney is better compensated, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Chiropractors have the ability to make the case for the attorney. Treatment, evaluations and records provide third-party credibility to the patient’s pain assertions and life impact. Billings provide a metric used by adjusters, judges and juries for quantifying parts of injury compensation. Quality of care, quarterbacking of the patient’s health care management and specialist referrals, and reasonable and supportable billing is often the difference maker. This means that attorneys are on the hunt for chiropractors who understand the ins and outs of personal injury.
Personal injury payments
Personal injury (when done correctly) is far better paying than the cash or insurance segments of a chiropractic office.
Whereas a PI attorney is paid on a contingency fee basis, chiropractors are not. Health care providers who take PI cases on lien are not agreeing to a discount. Rather, taking patients on medical lien is like extending credit to a patient. The chiropractor is agreeing to wait for the conclusion of a court case to be paid, but the chiropractor is owed the full amount of the bill, no matter the outcome of the case. If the patient loses at trial, the patient still owes that bill.
A chiropractor might offer a discount for patients who pay in cash, and insurance adjusters may have a thing or two to say about treatment charges, but this bears repeating: Patients in almost all states owe the full amount of a medical lien bill, regardless of the outcome of the case (even in “common fund” states where providers are paid only from a specific percentage of the overall settlement, the patient still owes the balance of the outstanding amount unpaid after that apportionment).
Many chiropractors don’t know this. They assume they must negotiate their bills and accept steep bill reductions if a case settles, if the patient loses the case, or if the attorney dropped the patient. Full disclosure: Not-so-ethical attorneys might take advantage of this false impression. Good attorneys, though, are on the hunt for chiropractors who do it right, and they will do all they can to make sure their trusted chiropractors get paid in full. After all, if you do it right, you can support a patient’s injury claims and increase the amount of the PI recovery.
You can accomplish this by:
- Documenting the before-and-after daily life changes of a patient, telling the story of just how much the patient’s quality of life has suffered.
- Alerting the attorney if the patient isn’t following the treatment plan and/or missing appointments, both of which might impact the settlement or award.
- Quarterbacking the patient’s health care management, timely referring out to imaging and other specialists who can evaluate for physical head trauma, mental assistance for PTSD, or potential surgical intervention, to name just a few.
Most of all, chiropractors provide the third-party credibility, in the form of medical bills, treatment notes, and testimony necessary to support the case. And since chiropractors are among the least invasive medical professionals, they are the first stop on the pain management journey, which means the good ones can attract the best personal attorneys out there.
Practice growth and profits
Personal injury referrals is gold to the growth and profitability of a chiropractic office. Like dieting and working out, chiropractic care is preventative, and the more patients experience it, the more likely they will be to use chiropractic care as part of their overall long-term wellness plan, converting from pain relief to wellness care.
When you take a case on lien, you have a reason to check in with patients long after you have stopped treating them. This is a great opportunity for you to nurture the relationship, encouraging both repeat business and new referrals. You remain top of mind with your PI patients as you conduct follow-up on your outstanding lien and check on your patients’ ongoing health. As those patients go out and interact with family, friends and acquaintances who mention the need for pain relief or wellness care, your name comes up. And now, your one PI patient turns into many new patients.
Relationships are the intangible assets for any chiropractic practice to focus on for real growth. A referral-generating patient is the lowest-cost, highest-profitability patient a chiropractor can have. In PI, you have the unique opportunity for follow-up contacts that might last years.
When most medical providers think of personal injury, they think of it a little begrudgingly, but personal injury is often the “in point” for chiropractors to expand their practice and change the perception of chiropractic across the board. Take advantage. Grow the PI segment of your practice, and you will grow your entire practice as well as your profits.
MICHAEL COATES is an authority on personal injury medical lien recovery and the founder of PIMadeEasy.com, which helps medical providers accelerate their success in personal injury. He can be contacted at success@PIMadeEasy.com.