Direct Access: The Administrative Referral

One of the biggest objections I hear from physical therapists who are considering opening a cash-based practice is “I don’t have direct access in my state, what should I do?”

Direct Access: Keep them open and listening

The first and most important thing you should do is make sure you do not let a patient who reached out to you off the phone without booking an appointment. Almost every state has some form of direct access. Your job is to figure out exactly what your state’s rules are.  Work within those rules to keep the patient in your practice. Consider this an administrative hurdle rather than and end game challenge. Just because you can’t “treat” right out of the gate doesn’t mean you can’t evaluate them and show them how you can help. If you can’t evaluate the patient due to your state law, you can at least have a conversation with them and let them know how you help people in a similar situation. Just an evaluation (or a quick telephone consult) can really take care of all their fears and worries. You let them know what’s going on and how you will help them achieve their goals.

Help them overcome the referral barrier

Book the patient for an evaluation or assessment. Then explain to them how to get the necessary referral or script from their physician. If all you need is a signed plan of care, then it is just that simple. It’s important to also help them with the process of getting the necessary referral, “script” or signature.

Be creative getting referrals 

Keep in mind that the intention is not to cheat the system, but to make the system work for you without just giving up. Get on the phone, get the patient on your schedule and make the referral (or “script”) a normal part of the process. It’s a cost of doing business. Just like paying for your credit cards, but the cost is your time and creativity, not money in this case. And, time is money, so same/same. Creativity is essential to get people into your practice and it is part of the cash-based mindset.

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About The Author

Aaron LeBauer

Aaron LeBauer PT, DPT, LMBT started a 100% cash based physical therapy practice right after graduation. He enjoys sharing his experiences in private practice and helping other therapists find freedom in practice.

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