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.