The origins of the English word “doctor” stem from the Latin docere (teacher).
Perhaps no other healthcare professionals have taken this to heart more than chiropractors.
Since its inception as a profession, chiropractic has continually focused on providing unmatched patient education to help communities reach the highest possible levels of natural health, wellness, and quality of life. However, with the passage of time, many have forgotten about the most powerful technique of all: peer-to-peer education. Providing education and value to other healthcare providers in your community is an essential part of expanding your local reach and establishing interdisciplinary referral relationships.
Do your research
The most effective way to provide peer-to-peer education is to communicate through research. Positioning your practice through research and education can go a long way toward building referral relationships with other healthcare providers in your community.
You can learn this firsthand by attending grand rounds with various neurologists, surgeons, interventional pain physicians, and primary care providers in your community. It will quickly become clear that a substantial part of their clinical decision-making stems from examining the latest research and applying it to their practice and referral patterns.
Since much of the research they look at does not include chiropractic, consider providing them with articles related to advancements in the realm of conservative care (as well as chiropractic). If possible, include some additional insight that places the research in a practical format for their practice.
You can stay up to date easily by visiting PubMed and search for keywords like “chiropractic,” and “spinal manipulation,” and then set automatic email notifications to be delivered to your inbox. When new research containing your selected keywords is published, you’ll be the first to know.
From student to teacher
Eventually, you may even be invited to speak at one of these educational events. This will give you a direct audience of nearly every spine care provider in your area, and an hour of time or so to discuss your practice and chiropractic care.
It’s unfortunate, but many other providers are relying on myth and conjecture to form their opinion of chiropractic. Opportunities to directly reach out, educate, and engage other providers give you the ability to provide value and bridge the professional divide. Education through research is the most effective way to provide value, educate, and make connections.
As you continue to demonstrate your knowledge and experience, other providers will come to view you as an expert in conservative care. In time, and with proper positioning, they should start referring patients to your practice. The impact of these referrals is far greater than you might realize.
First, on a small scale, they help bring new patients into your office who could potentially be helped through chiropractic care. This can greatly assist with the growth and development of your practice. Second, on a larger scale, the patients referred to your office may be spared from undergoing more aggressive interventions.
Research has continually shown that patients seen by a chiropractor are less likely to undergo surgery or be prescribed opioid medications. They can be evaluated for chiropractic care, while also avoiding an intervention that might carry greater risks. These two reasons are why it is imperative to build peer-to-peer relationships with other local healthcare providers.
As most chiropractors practice in virtual “silos,” reaching out and providing peer-to-peer education can position your practice and establish your expertise in conservative healthcare. Many other providers, especially those in primary care, are often too busy in practice to read journals related to musculoskeletal health. Therefore, by bringing them research-based education, they will look to you as a local leader, which is a key part of building a referral relationship.
Doctor, teach thyself
Another benefit of reaching out with education is the knowledge you gain by having your finger on the pulse of chiropractic research. Naturally, you develop a deeper understanding of chiropractic when you are able to examine, analyze, and provide education based on current science.
The result is not only better clinical decision-making but also more confidence in your daily practice. This is useful for new graduates as well as veteran DCs. While new providers won’t have years of hands-on experience to draw from, older practitioners may be unaware of updates in the literature regarding the action, efficacy, and safety of the chiropractic adjustment. Nearly every chiropractor stands to gain by keeping up-to-date with research.
The breadth and depth of chiropractic-related research is vast. By taking the initiative to highlight the well-documented safety and efficacy of chiropractic care, you can help bridge the gap between healthcare providers. Reaching out will help to not only build your practice but also give other physicians the research and education necessary to provide the best care for their patients.
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This article originally appeared in Chiropractic Economics