Establishing working relationships with physicians is key to any dental sleep practice, but where do you start?
Over the 20 years I’ve been working in the medical industry, I’ve talked with thousands of physicians about what they need. It’s not complicated: they want to know the doctor they are referring to is knowledgeable in the field, they want to know their patient will be taken care of, and most importantly, they want to be kept updated on the patient’s status.
Introducing your practice
When approaching physicians, it’s good to have a packet of materials that introduces your practice, and makes referring patients easy. Here is what I like to put in a dentist packet:
- Biography and profiles of the dentist
- List of certifications, accreditations, and affiliations
- A copy of the current ASM guidelines and a short list of some relevant dental sleep medicine articles
- A page on what they can expect:
- Bill to medical insurance
- Medicare participating (if you are, of course)
- Regular updates on patient
- Return patient for a follow-up efficacy test
- Referral of severe cases to the physician
- A referral pad or printable form to make it easy to send patients
The purpose of creating this packet is to allow you to make the case for sending patients to your practice in under 15 minutes and leave them with some supporting materials that will remind them why later and make it easy to refer.
So now what?
After you have created your packet, you need to identify physicians in your area who would be a good fit. Start with your personal network, are there physicians you already know? Can a mutual friend introduce you? Broaden your search with specialists like ENTs and pulmonologists, then expand to GP and PCPs. Once you have a list, it’s time to start calling. What you are asking for is an opportunity to drop off your packet and introduce yourself. Make an appointment and let them know it will be short. Then keep that promise. Like you, physicians are very busy. You need to make the case quickly and let them get back to what they were doing. Not everyone will take your appointment, and not everyone will be receptive to your message. But don’t lose heart and don’t give up. A referral relationship goes both ways, you are interviewing them too. It has to be a good fit for both practices.
Dan McCanna is the Director of the Physician Referral Program at N3Sleep.