Beth King sent in three good questions recently. The second was about introducing yourself to doctors.
“We’re told in school and publications to introduce ourselves to the doctors in the community, get them to send us referrals. HOW? Make an appointment and while I’m sitting there with my shirt off, tell him I want him to send his other patients to me? It’s not like I can drop off a box of my hands and a pile of notepads and say ‘Here, free samples!’”
In this entry I’m going to talk about writing the letter of introduction. We’ll cover other ways to market your massage practice to doctors and other health care providers in the next entry.
Storming the Castle?
Firstly, you need to mentally separate The Doctor from The Health Care System. If you think about approaching medically trained people as trying to “crack the system,” you’re in the wrong head space.
As a rule, doctors, PTs, LPNs, dentists, chiropractors, etc. chose their career for the same reason you chose bodywork. The need to heal and promote health is etched into their psyche. That is your common ground.
Phrase every letter and focus every conversation around the needs of the patient.
Scope of Practice
Choose to contact doctors who share your specialty. Oncologists, as a group, are not interested in prenatal massage.
Facts Trump Emotions
In your introductory letter/conversation, stick to the facts.
- Tell them why you are contacting them. (Switching the focus of your practice, recently certified in something that complements the doctor’s practice, new to area …)
- Give your experience/credentials/certifications/affiliations. Be brief. Be concise. If they want more details, they’ll ask. Or, if you must, include copies in your intro packet.
- Discuss (briefly) how your specialty can assist their patients and how.
- Include copies of any brochures or information sheets you use that explain your specialty(ies), your hours, fees, etc. Ask doctors to hand them to their patients.
- Do you have any professional articles that discuss the benefits of your specialty? Include those, too.
- In a letter, ask for five minutes of their time. Tell them you’ll call by such-an-such a date for an appointment.
- Learn — and use — the “language.” When you demonstrate mastery of medical communication, you elevate your own profession.
- Be clear and brief in your communications. This is really hard to do. A letter shouldn’t be more than one side of one page. An introductory conversation shouldn’t be more than two minutes (Practice. Time yourself. Serious.).
- From what scant research I’ve done, there seems to be a general complaint from doctors about not getting treatment reports. Find out what doctors’ general complaints are about working with MTs. Address these complaints in your communications and your actions.
Cherie Sohnen-Moe’s Business Mastery.
An exceedingly helpful collection of letters for various business situations, including letters of introduction to health care providers. I wrote a review of it last week in answer to the first of Beth’s questions. Spoiler alert: I really, really like it.
Hands Heal by Diana L. Thompson
The book’s subtitle is “Communication, Documentation, and Insurance Billing for Manual Therapists” which pretty much sums up what Hands Heal is about. Chapter 2 is where you want to look for a good overview and examples on how to communicate with HCPs.
AMTA Practice Building Tips: Working in Medical and Wellness Settings
Not everyone has access to AMTA’s site, but if you do, this is an excellent page to spend some time on. Just go. While you’re there, do a search for this phrase: Hospitals Embrace Massage. There’s a pdf of an article that’s a good read, too.
Really, folks, when you’re looking to introduce yourself to HCPs, start with your clients’ doctors. You’ll have more luck if you begin by talking to people that have all ready seen the effects of your work. Once you impress them, you can get their letter of reference to add to your credentials, and branch out more.
All my best,