Drive More Direct Access Patients to Your Private Practice with Courtesy Consultations
By Nancy Mura, Senior VP Public Relations
One of the most valuable skills you can master is how to create an endless stream of quality direct access referrals. The courtesy consultation is a simple and reliable method of generating these referrals. This is essentially a PR and marketing technique to make your practice well-known in your community.
Complimentary Services to Bring Patients in the Door
The idea of a courtesy consultation is to bring prospective patients in your door. Once they are in your practice, you or your staff have an opportunity to educate them on the benefits available to them as a result of receiving care in your practice.
It’s important to ensure that the complimentary service you are providing is not any service you would normally charge for. This is essential to avoid complications with Medicare guidelines. (If you’re uncertain, check this point with your legal advisor.)
You want to assign these consultations to staff in such a way that the consultations will not interfere with the scheduling of paying patients. This could mean booking them in your slackest hours or with staff who are not yet fully booked.
Providing the Consultation
There should be a set format for the consultation interview that establishes the patient’s problem(s) clearly, either finding out from the patients themselves or, in the case of pediatric patients, from the parents or caregivers. The therapist then educates the patients or parents on exactly how therapy can help them. Once this interview format is standardized, it is much easier to train your therapists on the right way to do it.
Once the therapist understands the problem as well as the patient’s needs and objectives, they often have enough information to target their education directly at how PT/OT/ST can remedy that problem. The therapist is not necessarily putting the patient through a hands-on physical evaluation.
The wrap-up is putting the patient on the treatment program they need so they can meet their own objectives. If the patient is a child, then it means explaining to the parents how they can help their child meet their developmental milestones or become more independent in caring for themselves.
Why Offer Complimentary Services?
Why are you going through all this? Realize that an adult or child with a condition that can be improved with PT/OT/ST may never have received the therapy they needed. They may never have been referred to therapy even if they could have benefited from it in a life-changing way. You or one of your staff will enlighten this individual and let them know how you can help them. That’s the reason for a courtesy consultation.
There’s another reason, too: that is to let prospective patients or their parents know that in your practice, they will be listened to and respected. If they have had therapy before, they may have been treated in an offhand manner. They may have given up therapy that could have helped them just because they weren’t listened to or offered the proper care. This is your chance for you or your staff to let them know that you can really help them.
If a doctor’s referral is needed for insurance or legal reasons, send your prospective patients or their parents to their healthcare providers for a referral to your practice. This could also be a great start on a new relationship with that provider and result in many referrals in the coming years.
We have trained thousands of clients on how to increase their referrals through direct access. If you need help in this area, we will be happy to assist. Contact Survival Strategies at 833-221-8002 to learn about our proven program that gets measurable results for practice owners just like you.