I have long recommended counselors marketing health care providers about the types of services that we can provide to their patients. It has been my experience that physicians, both primary care and specialists, as well as nurses, nurse practitioners, naprapathic doctors and physician assistants welcome our involvement in the care and treatment of their patients. Given the brevity of the traditional office appointment (average time per visit is 18 minutes which includes EHR documentation), most health care providers recognize the value of counseling in assisting their patients.
Health care providers would like to be aware of your treatment of their patients. In my informed consent document, I embed an initial release of information:
COORDINATION OF TREATMENT: It is important that all health care providers work together. As such, we would like your permission to communicate with your primary care physician (PCP), medical provider and/or psychiatrist. If you prefer to decline consent, no information will be shared.
____You may inform my physician(s). If you agree you will be asked to sign a release of information.
____ I decline to inform my physician. (No information will be released)
Physician/Psychiatrist name: _________________________________________________
During your intake or initial session with a new client, discuss having the client sign a release of iinformation for their medical providers. The client certainly has the option to decline the release of information, but most realize the value of all health care providers working together. If the client agrees, have them sign a formal release of information.
If you are paneled with insurance companies, some request that mental health professionals ask the client to sign a release of information to coordinate care with the client’s primary care physician. If the client declines, then you have documentation that the client was asked.
If the client agrees, not only is it a great collaboration for the client but a secondary professional marketing opportunity for you. Medical professionals like to refer to counselors who advise them of their treatment and on-going progress of the client.
Sending a short letter and a quick call to the medical provider’s office that the client has started counseling with you and your diagnosis is welcomed and noted in the patient’s records.
The letter needs to be to the point and brief. The following is my initial letter:
Your patient name was referred to me for evaluation and counseling. I met with her/him on date here. The diagnostic impression is that of Dx here. I will keep you updated on patient name progress. A signed release of information is on file so we may communicate. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Periodic progress reports keep the medical provider updated and reminded of you. When using “snail mail”, include a few business cards.
It doesn’t take too many clients talking with their medical provider about how much their counselor has helped them, to give them a compelling reason to refer their patients to you!
It doesn’t take too many medical providers referring to you to have a full-time practice.