What the Best Spine Surgeon-Referral Source Relationships Look Like Today

Written by Anuja Vaidya | June 05, 2014 | Print  |


Four spine surgeons discuss the importance of maintaining good relationships with referring primary care physicians and how to maintain those relationships.

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses. Next week's question: Will you be implementing any direct-to-patient marketing strategies at your practice? If so, what are they?


Please send responses to Anuja Vaidya at avaidya@beckershealthcare.com by Wednesday, June 11, at 5 p.m. CST.


Question: How can spine surgeons maintain positive relationships with referral sources?


Purnendu Gupta, MD, Director, Chicago Spine Center, Weiss Memorial Hospital, Pernendu GuptaChicago: Over the years, I have found the most meaningful way to maintain positive relationships with referring physicians is by calling them to discuss a critical patient visit. The interaction happens in real time, so complicated issues and/or questions can be addressed immediately. Of course, we also find that follow-up letters detailing the visit and its outcome are important in strengthening ties with referral sources.

With emails and texting, a referring physician might receive the information quickly, but so much can be lost in translation. A phone conversation gives a human touch, which more times than not is well received and makes a lasting impression. The follow-up letter then solidifies the relationship.


Hooman MelamedHooman M. Melamed, MD, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, DISC Sports & Spine Center, Marina del Rey, Calif.: Spine surgeons can maintain positive relationships with referral sources by maintaining communication with them and obviously taking excellent care of the referred patients, whether treated surgically or non-surgically. Being available and affable will go a long way as well.


Brian Gantwerker

Brian R. Gantwerker, MD, Neurosurgeon, The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: By providing a clear and constant dialogue with the referring doctors. Keep them in the loop.


Richard KubeRichard A. Kube II, MD, CEO, Founder, Prairie Spine & Pain Institute, Peoria, Ill.: There are multiple ways to maintain positive relationships, but one that our practice uses regularly is respecting the referral source through communication. Amazingly, one of the most frequent complaints primary physicians make is that they are in the dark regarding the care of their patient. We have multiple different chains of communication between referring and treating providers to be certain that everyone understands the goals of treatment.


Staff as well as the physicians themselves gets involved. Treating the referring providers with the respect a true colleague deserves goes a long way towards fostering those relationships.

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