A few months back, my primary care physician (PCP) recommended that I begin seeing a physiatrist to help me manage symptoms associated with having muscular dystrophy (MD). I agreed, but when I asked her if she knew any good physiatrists in the area who had experience working with adult MD patients, she came up blank. She wondered if my neurologist might be able to suggest someone. I talked to him about it, and he recommended that I go through my PCP.
After a couple weeks of research and phone calls to a fairly limited number of physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists within a reasonable driving distance of my home, my physician was able to refer me to someone who met my requirements. I was excited to get started, but I was also hungry for more details, so I asked, "Do you know if this guy has ever worked with patients who have conditions that are similar to mine?" She assured me that he had, and so far it has been going very well.
This experience got me thinking about the referral process and how it relates to O&P. Like physiatry, O&P is a relatively small and specialized healthcare discipline, and because of this, it seems like it would be even more important for your potential referral sources to know who you are and what you do. If a prospective patient needs orthotic, prosthetic, or pedorthic care, would the referral sources in your area think of you first? Do you communicate your approach to patient care and your successful outcomes with them? How do you reach out to them in a meaningful and effective way?
For our cover story this month, The O&P EDGE asked five prosthetists to describe a clinically challenging case that required creative problem-solving to achieve a successful outcome (see "Creative Prosthetics Solutions"). I'm guessing that many of you have stories that are similar to these. If your referral sources don't know about your success stories, you should tell them. They really are quite amazing. Of course, we'd also love for you to share your stories with us. E-mail and tell us about a solution you've provided to a patient, and we might be able to include it in a future issue of The O&P EDGE.
Thanks for reading!