Mental health therapists generally don’t need referrals from Doctors in order to see a patient. This article explains why it is in your practice’s best interest to get referrals or recommendations from Doctors.
The reasons relate firstly, and most importantly, to achieving the best treatment outcome for your client, and potentially saving them money too. Both of which will benefit you as a therapy practitioner.
What are the benefits?
Improved Patient Treatment Outcomes
Once you have a referral from a Doctor, the patient/client has a support team working with them to help with their challenge/issue. Assuming your client has approved for you to share information with their Doctor, the therapist can provide feedback to the Doctor. This will help improve the benefits achieved by the client. The feedback does not need to give the full details of the patient’s problem, nor patient history. It just needs to give information on the symptoms, treatment plan and progress. A Doctor is often the patient’s “health manager”, therefore the feedback is important to manage the patient’s overall health care needs.
It is interesting to note that patients with a mental health problem are more likely to suffer from another medical issue. (National Institute of Mental Health, USA). The sooner the patient can resolve their mental challenge, the sooner they can live a happier and healthier life.
Potential Cost Savings for your client
In Australia, clients diagnosed, by a Doctor, with a mental health disorder may be able to get a mental health treatment plan. Mental health disorders include anxiety, stress, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and several others.
A mental health treatment plan will allow the patient claim up to ten individual sessions, per calendar year, from Medicare. After six sessions, the Doctor will need to review the patient’s progress, and will decide on referring the patient for another four sessions.
How to get known by Local Doctors
Introduce yourself to the Local General Practitioners, and some further afield. The more niche your specialisation, the further out you should go.
If you a new mental health therapist, Doctors are unlikely to know you. Even if you are not new to the industry, there are many Doctors and many Therapists. Doctors don’t know all the therapists. If a Doctor doesn’t know you, he/she can’t refer to you. Schedule an introductory meeting with some Doctors.
Explain your niche skill areas to the Doctor and your ideal client. Why you are different to other practitioners, your point of view and your treatment methods. Give them plenty business cards that they can give to the appropriate patients, together with the referral or mental health treatment plan.
Close the meeting and be bold, ask for referrals. Be sure that they know why you visited! Let them know you have a few openings and are therefore able to start treating urgent cases in a short time frame.
You need to gain the trust of your chosen Doctors. Do this by responding quickly to calls and referrals, providing treatment plans, patient feedback, and ongoing progress reports on their patients. This all creates a great collaborative environment, that the Doctor will appreciate.
After the introductions, ensure that you remain top of mind of the Doctors.
Provide a benefit – Offer to provide training to their staff
Some Doctors and their staff may not have in depth knowledge of your focus areas or specialisation. Offer to provide training to the practice’s staff and show them how therapy can assist their patients.
Attend Appropriate Medical Conferences
Attend appropriate Medical Conferences near you. If you, for example, if specialise in young clients, go to youth focused medical conferences. “Bite the bullet” and arrange to be a speaker. Show the audience that you know your “stuff”, and that you are the trusted and reliable practitioner.
Get Feedback from referring Doctors
Ask the referring Doctors to give you feedback on the progress you are making. This empowers the Doctor, but also is valuable in treating a patient. There may be something that your client doesn’t tell you, but the Doctor may be able to raise this with you. This again improves the benefits of the treatment plan.
Getting Referrals from Doctors
In summary, getting referrals from Doctors will improve the client outcomes, both from a treatment perspective and possibly also a financial perspective.
Very few therapists like to be “salesmen”. You need to promote yourself in front of doctors and ask them for referrals, and then keep in touch, to boost your image.
About Flash Dezigns
Flash Dezigns specialises in creating stunning websites for Mental Health Therapists. These websites are optimised to look good on all devices, work fast, and appeal to your clients, and therefore search engines, such as Google. A good-looking and useful website is more likely to attract new clients to your practice.
Contact us today to start planning and working on your stunning new website.
The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, medical or professional advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. The information may not constitute the most up-to-date or correct information and is provided “as is” with no representations made. Readers should consult their own legal or other professional before taking any action on this information.
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This blog post is written from the Australian perspective, however similar benefits may be achievable in other parts of the world.