Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Simple Way to Contact MD Practitioners in Your City

Your patients' MDs, both General Practitioners and Specialists, need to know that you are participating in their patients' care. As our medicine is more and more tied into the electronic records' system and more of us are billing insurance, this is a logical step. However, in the meantime, I suggest you make this process part of your standard procedures when possible. This begins with a place on your history forms where patients are requested to:
• list any other care providers that they are seeing currently or
• any doctors who are a long term part of their health care team (i.e., their "regular doctor" or primary care provider [PCP]) 

With each new patient who has actually agreed to a course of therapy, ask for permission to send a letter/fax to their main PCP stating who you are and about the care you'll be providing, and requesting a copy of their patient records. It is, of course, a HIPAA requirement that you request permission to contact any other healthcare providers. This is a separate piece of paper that you present if the patient actually has listed other providers on your history taking forms. While some patients may not have an MD and some may not wish their MD to know about you, others will think it quite professional that you want to be in contact with their other care givers. Furthermore, in some cases it will be absolutely mandatory that you stay in touch with patients' MDs.

So what to say to these MDs, PTs, NDs, DCs, or whomever?  First of all, my suggestion is that, like any marketing process, this simply needs to be part of your standard procedures, and that this letter is a prewritten digital file that you revise as needed for each case. That means you are not writing it from scratch every time. Below is a sample letter that I might write, but it is only one idea.

To:  Sarah Jones, MD., Boulder Gynecology Clinic
Dear Dr. Jones, 

Your patient, Mary Smith, has recently begun acupuncture care at my clinic, WomanCare Acupuncture Clinic. I will be treating Mary with acupuncture for premenstrual pain and related symptoms. It is my expectation that Mary will require three-four treatments per month for three months to see significant and lasting improvement in her condition. I will also be counseling her on diet and exercise to help her take care of herself long term.

Mary has given permission for and I am happy to provide you with updates or a final report at the end of the treatment protocol for your files, should that be helpful for maintaining thorough records in her case. I am able to send those records to your electronically if you prefer.

Enclosed for your interest and information you will find:
• a signed release of records so that our clinic may see Mary's recent medical history with your office
• some research about acupuncture therapy for cases similar to Mary's
• a general brochure about WomanCare Acupuncture Clinic and the services we offer that may be of use to other patients
• a copy of my Curriculum Vitae showing my credentials and experience in the field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine
• several of my business cards

If you have any questions or concerns at all about Mary's care at my clinic, I am happy to speak with you or communicate by email at any mutually convenient time. As a specialist is gynecological care, I would also like to know if your clinic is willing and able to receive appropriate referrals from my clinic.
Thank you for your time.

Yours truly,
Honora Lee Wolfe

You may sometimes need to add a paragraph explaining that you are aware that the patient is taking XYZ drug(s).

You may need a paragraph about Chinese herbal medicine that the patient is taking while under your care.

At the closure of Mary's care, if appropriate and especially if it is a positive outcome, send another letter explaining that Mary's treatments are for the moment completed and that her XYZ symptoms are significantly improved. Even if Mary is going to stay under your care longer, it may be useful to update her MD on any significant improvements or changes in her care or condition.
If you were to open this type of professional communication with three-or-five-or-ten MDs and you have faith in your treatments, you may find these doctors will slowly begin to refer a patient here or there to your care. Over a period of time,  this can become significant, especially if you are referring patients back to these MDs from time to time. I believe that we do not need to fear these communications or relationships and that with attention and respect we can create open professional communication with appropriate Western medical practitioners.

Thanks for reading and best wishes!

2 comments:

  1. What a great idea. I have copied this into a word doc and put it on file so that I can refer to it when needed. Thanks so much!

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  2. Great post Honora :) I think if someone was to cut out "some research about acupuncture therapy for cases similar to Mary's" then that would be some major time savings.

    Bottom line is you don't know if the doctor is going to toss everything in the garbage can or even know who Mary is then they are not necessarily so likely to pay attention to everything that one provides for them

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