Here’s how to generate physician referrals

Are you ready to get new patients for sleep apnea or craniofacial pain treatment? Now is the time to get your practice noticed. It is important to establish a working relationship with your local physicians. This is essential for generating patient referrals, which are key to keeping your dental sleep medicine and/or craniofacial pain practice alive. To help you with generating physician referrals, here are four things you can do now to establish a strong working relationship.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

This step is so important I had to say it three times, “Prepare, prepare and prepare.” When speaking with a physician you only get a short time frame to share what you need to say. To make the most of those short minutes, prepare something to say that won’t take up too much time. Think of an elevator ride. What can you say in that short ride to the fifth or tenth floor?

Think about a couple of bullet points that you want to make sure you hit. These points should be tailored to the physician’s specialty. For example, ENTs will want to know more about how you are offering oral appliances and how these devices can be tried before recommending surgery. If you are talking to a family physician, think about sharing how it may take a long time for patients to get into a sleep clinic for further testing. And if you are speaking with a cardiologist, discuss atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, hypertension or any other sleep apnea comorbidities.

Invite physicians to a lunch and learn

Everyone loves a lunch and learn, right? Think about it. If you can find a convenient time for physicians in your community to pop in for a quick presentation and lunch, they would remember it. This is a chance for you to get to know the other health care providers in your community, while also educating their teams on the benefits of oral appliance therapy for treatment of sleep apnea or temporomandibular joint disorder.

Use this time to answer questions about insurance benefits, how it works and how they can refer. Don’t forget to invite your team too–they are there to mingle and learn as well. And make sure you bring some marketing materials with you to share. This allows the physicians to bring something back with them.

Visit the office

Sometimes you just have to go straight to the source. If you want to reach out, feel free to stop into a physician’s office to drop off marketing materials or have a quick chat with the doctor. This allows you to share important information without completely disrupting their day. You should include the latest American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines that list oral appliance therapy as a successful treatment option. You should also share your services and how you can help their patients too. One way to really catch their eye is to personalize the marketing materials you share with them. Try to include a handwritten note to each physician.

Refer patients back

This relationship goes both ways. If the physician is referring patients to you and you are doing nothing in return, what good will that do? This is a time to establish a strong working relationship and if you are referring patients back to them, it is a win-win for both offices. You want them to feel like the relationship is one of collaboration and that you are caring for patients as a team.

Tell your patients: Losing just 16 minutes of sleep is bad

It is important for our patients to know that even just losing a little bit of sleep at night can affect how productive you are at work. In fact, losing just 16 minutes of sleep is bad. It can play a negative role in your patient’s daily life.

A study from researchers at the University of South Florida looked at 130 employees who work in information technology and have at least one child in school. Over the course of eight days, participants logged how much they slept and answer a series of questions.

What the results showed

Questions in the survey focused on how often participants experienced off-task or distracting thoughts during the day on a scale of zero to four. The results showed that participants who lost as little as 16 minutes of sleep on a  nightly basis had more distracting thoughts. This made it more difficult for them to finish their tasks at work.

For adults older than 18 years old, it is important to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, though, about one-third of Americans are not getting that required amount of sleep per night.

We need to make sure our patients are getting an appropriate amount of sleep each night to ensure their health and well-being.

Join us in Chapel Hill for a Craniofacial Pain and TMJ mini residency

Join Terry Bennett, DMD, Mayoor Patel, DDS, MS, UNC’s Greg Essick, DDS, and Rose Nierman, RDH, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for the 2019 Orofacial Pain Mini Residency! This craniofacial pain and TMJ mini residency will help you better care for your patients.

The Orofacial Pain Mini-Residency is a comprehensive 2-session, 40 CE Credit program designed to give dental practices the knowledge and guidance to fully incorporate orofacial pain treatment into their practice.

With an emphasis on hands-on learning, attendees gain the skills and confidence needed to be successful in all aspects of TMD & craniofacial pain treatment.

Session 1: June 28-30, 2019     Friday & Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

                                                        Sunday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Session 2: Aug 23-25, 2019       Friday & Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

                                                        Sunday 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Meet the speakers

Greg Essick, DDS. Professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences and Director of the Dental Sleep Clinic at UNC. He is also author/co-author of over 120 journal articles and book chapters, the most recent pertaining to sleep medicine and pain.

Mayoor Patel, DDS, MS. He is a diplomate of ABCP, ABDSM, ABCDSM and ABOP. He is also a board member of ABCP and ABCDSM, and examination chair for ABCP. Dr. Patel’s practice is limited to dental sleep medicine and craniofacial pain.

Terry Bennett, DMD. Diplomate of ABCP, ABDSM and ABCDSM. Dr. Bennett is the former president of the AACP and his practice is limited to dental sleep medicine and craniofacial pain.

Rose Nierman, RDH. Founder/CEO Nierman Practice Management. Rose is the most experienced and recognized educator nationwide in CrossCroding. She makes medical billing fun and rewarding to learn.

What will be covered?

Session 1 consists of neuroanatomy, the concepts and fundamentals of pain, musculoskeletal disorders, neuropathic disorders, neurovascular disorders, and hands-on examination and documentation systems, and finishing with medical billing for TMD treatment.

Session 2 includes imaging, pharmaceuticals, and adjunct therapy for orofacial pain. Therapy for craniomandibular disorders, orthotic therapy, and a review of other common orofacial pain conditions is covered before diving into hands-on injection therapy, and closing with sleep and pain, and case studies.
Don’t forget to register today! We hope to see you in Chapel Hill, North Carolina!

What is the burden of sleep apnea?

It is estimated that more than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep loss and sleep apnea affect an individual’s performance, safety and quality of life. Almost 20 percent of all serious car crash injuries in the general population are associated with sleepy drivers, independent of alcohol impact. Sleep loss and sleep disorders can also play a large role on the economy. This adds to the burden of sleep apnea. When we take a look at the high estimated costs to society if sleep apnea is left untreated, it costs far more than what would be incurred by delivering adequate treatments.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on direct medical costs associated with doctor visits, hospital services, prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. When compared to healthy individuals, those who suffer from sleep loss and sleep disorders are less productive. These individuals also experience an increased healthcare utilization and an increased likelihood of accidents.

The Effects of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Despite clear signs and symptoms, many patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) go undiagnosed. In return, patients who finally get diagnosed with OSA might have had obvious symptoms of the disorder for an average of seven years. During those seven years, patients report visiting their family physician about 17 times and a sub-specialist about nine times. With repeated visits, these patients are not receiving the treatment they need to lead healthy, happy lives.

Patients can also experience a number of health conditions associated with untreated sleep apnea, including:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Acid Reflux
  • Obesity

With these negative effects of untreated sleep apnea, it is vital that we as dentists take charge of our services so that we can offer patients the best care possible—and that includes adding specialty practices in the area of dental sleep medicine.