General dentists are eager to learn more, to expand their knowledge base and acquire new skills. With a shift in perspective, specialists can make ideal teachers and mentors. The sense that there isn’t enough work to go around has dissipated with the improving economy, opening the door for richer relationships between specialists and the GPs they work with.
For instance, the GPs who provide short-term cosmetic ortho treatment for their patients needn’t be viewed as competition by their trusted orthodontists. As they do a few procedures, GPs may develop a greater understanding of the specialist’s role, a greater appreciation for the complexity of the specialty, and a more refined sense of their own limitations in providing care. Specialists who successfully position themselves as a subject matter expert will actually reinforce the referral relationship with GPs for the long haul.
How can specialists improve their relationships with their GP referral sources? They can provide them with something of value—knowledge. Here are five ways to accomplish this:
1. Sponsor a study club for referring GPs on topics that are helpful to them.
2. Host a Lunch ‘n’ Learn or Over-the-Shoulder training at a GP’s office to increase knowledge about specialty procedures (and what the limitations may be).
3. Distribute a quarterly GP e-newsletter with industry updates and relevant information.
4. Work with a Pride consultant to conduct a GP survey and ask your referral sources what it is that they really want and need from you.
5. Consistently show appreciation not only for the dentist, but for the staff as well. After all, most referrals actually take place at the front desk.
Better communication leads to improved relationships. The more knowledge a specialist shares, the more GPs will respect that knowledge. By encouraging your GP referral sources to view you as their partner in patient care rather than just another outsourced resource, you will earn their respect and create a cycle of positive referral energy that benefits both doctors, and ultimately your patients.
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