A partner of mine, in a non-health care related business venture, is also a chiropractor. Over the last year we have spent quite some time together, and he is not a client in the Lawyers PI Program. However, he has been with me enough to engage in conversation on how to create a huge personal injury practice. He runs 6 relatively successful chiropractic practices, predominantly personal injury, and he called me this week for help. He put me on speaker phone with his associate doctors and said, “I need a schtick to say to the lawyers to get them to refer at a greater frequency.” A “schtick!” To me that sounds like, “I need a line of bullshit to convince the lawyers to send me work.” Out of respect for our relationship, I answered him...Over the next 60 minutes. He kept interrupting by saying, “Give it to me in a nutshell.”
Here’s the secret…There is no “schtick”, there is no “line of bullshit,” and there is no “nutshell” that will get you where you want to be in a very successful personal injury practice. Just like the old adage says, you have to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk. You have to be the real deal, from how you communicate to your patients, to how you diagnose, to how you care for the patients and how you write your reports.
Many years ago, I worked with a neurosurgeon that spent a lot of time with me talking about my patient’s issues, educating me about different conditions that I wasn’t expert in, and eventually we became very good friends. A few years ago, he explained to me why we had the relationship we did and why I am the only chiropractor he has ever referred to. It was a very revealing experience. He explained that in neurosurgery there is no room for error, at any level, as a mistake can cause a patient to lose their life or become paralyzed. Therefore, he will only associate with the best of the best. Whether it is a chiropractor, neuroradiologist, orthopedist, etc…he will not work with any professional that doesn’t work at the highest level of competency. Therefore, over the years, I got a significant number of referrals from him. I heard the same thing from the orthopedist, the neurologist, the physiatrist, the pain management specialist, and surprisingly enough, the lawyers as well. Over a period of time, my referrals from medical specialists were consistently outstanding in conjunction with my referrals from the lawyers. Why?…because I was expert in my field. I understood spinal anatomy, spinal pathology and spinal diagnosis as well as any other medical specialist. Once the rest of the medical community understood that I was their equal, but distinct in my own specialty, I became part of the treating team.
In my speaker phone conversation with my business partner, I started by asking him a few simple questions. How thick are the slices the MRI company takes on patients? What x-ray views are ordered for both the trauma and non-trauma patients? What level of understanding do you have about persistent functional loss? What are the protocols for referring to medical specialists? Do you understand how to clinically correlate causality to bodily injury to functional loss? Etc. When I was getting silence on the other end of the phone or answers of, “I don’t know,” I explained that his practice is a “house of cards,” and with just a little scrutiny, it will wither. If it did not function at a significantly higher level, he was going to need more than “schtick.” He would need mountains of bullshit to grow the practice and that would not sustain it over time.
Everyone is the same; you must be the best of the best. Lawyers who practice personal injury also know who the real deal is and who isn’t. They know who is clinically excellent and who is barely competent. You can’t simply meet the minimum standard, as your community is full of other practitioners who meet the minimum standard and those are the doctors you are competing against for the referrals. Can you read MRI’s? Do you understand what x-rays need to be ordered? Do you interpret your own x-ray film or do you abdicate it to the radiologist? Do you understand the value of a whole body bone scan in fracture diagnosis? Are you aggressive in ordering diagnostic tests? Do you understand what tests to order? Do you understand the difference between an EMG, an SSEP and a V-ENG? You must not only be conversant in those issues, you must be expert in them.
At the request of many doctors nationwide, I have created an online CE course to help you understand the basics of these diagnostic entities and I have created a weekend course to give you a more in-depth understanding. However, this should be just the beginning. When you walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk, the referral community will know. I promise you they will know and the referrals will come much easier. Between now and then, you must be the best of the best, anything less is living in the world of mediocrity, and personally, I think another name for mediocrity is failure.
This consultation is a call to action. Make a commitment to becoming the best. When you do, you will leave the rest of your community to wallow in mediocrity, scrounging for the referral crumbs. As a side note, patients also know who is the “best doctor in town,” and will tell everyone that they know. Also, make sure not to concern yourself with educating the rest of the doctors in your community. That is your competitive edge.
Being successful is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. It takes work and statistics which only go up when you push them up...like a ball, it only goes easy when it rolls downhill, as your statistics will, with little effort. Need more inspiration? Need more information? Need more help? Call me; I look forward to your phone call and the opportunity to help you…I have made more mistakes than almost everyone. My secret is that I talked to, and visited, 100’s of people to learn from their mistakes and successes.