Building Strong Referral Source Relationships: 5 Steps for Spine & Orthopedic Surgeons Featured

Written by  Carrie Pallardy | Tuesday, 27 August 2013 14:01
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Dr. TehranyArmin Tehrany, MD, FAAOS, founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care and assistant clinical professor in the department of orthopedic surgery at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, discusses five simple steps orthopedic and spine surgeons can take to initiate and foster positive relationships with referral sources.


1. Don't be afraid to reach out to referral sources. In any given area, there are always a number of physicians that could serve as referral sources for spine and orthopedic surgeons. This group could include individuals such as primary care physicians and chiropractors. Referrals can be a significant portion of a spine or orthopedic surgeon's case volume.


"Although I like to think of medicine as a profession, it also has to be a business," says Dr. Tehrany. Forming strong professional ties is an important aspect of developing a successful business.


2. Pick up where retiring surgeons leave off. Many surgeons join a practice with an existing base of referrals. "For surgeons joining an established practice, it is a double edged sword. There is already a solid patient base. Good will and trust has been built by the existing partners, but those doors can be easily closed," says Dr. Tehrany.


The surgeons that have personal relationships with the referral sources will eventually decrease their case loads and retire. Referrals could easily begin to slow or halt entirely. Young spine and orthopedic surgeons should be sure to form their own relationships with referral sources. "Surgeons entering solo practice, on the other hand, will very quickly have to learn how to build a practice. They have to hit the pavement running."


3. Respect the value of referring physicians. Referring physicians are not only an important source for your case volume, but also an important part of the continuum of spine and orthopedic care. "The closer the referral source is to the patient the better," says Dr. Tehrany. "There is a great deal of fear surrounding spine surgery. A referring physician that has a patient's trust will have utilized as many non-operative methods as possible and prepared the patient for a consultation with a spine surgeon."


Chiropractors often see patients multiple times a week and primary care physicians have a comprehensive view of a patient's entire medical history. They will most likely continue to see the patient after surgery. It is important that referral sources trust you with their patients, rather than seeing themselves as simply your stepping stone to high case volume.


4. Take the time to get to know your referral sources. Lasting, productive relationships are not built with a single cold call or one brief conversation. "Good business relationships are built on integrity and trust," says Dr. Tehrany.


Meet your referral sources in person. Have dinner together or meet somewhere with minimal distraction to become more familiar with one another. The referral source can gain a sense of the surgeon's qualifications and, perhaps more importantly, the surgeon's attitude towards patient care.


5. Keep referring physicians informed. Staying in touch with referring physicians during the course of patient care is an imperative element of maintaining a positive relationship. Sharing with a primary care physician or a chiropractor how a patient's care is progressing is a professional courtesy, one that does not take long and is greatly appreciated.


"I contact referring physicians to thank them for sending patients my way immediately after consultations," says Dr. Tehrany. "This makes them feel comfortable and everyone enjoys being appreciated." Ask how your referral sources prefer being contacted. Let them know if a surgery will actually be performed and how it turns out. A simple phone call or email goes a long way to sustain a positive relationship with referral sources.   


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Last modified on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 17:48
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