Chiropractors and Pain Management Services

Chiropractors are an important secondary referral source for providers of pain management products. What do you need to know before reaching out to them?

Pain management products offer providers an opportunity to serve patient needs in a scenario with which they are familiar: a blend of retail and funded revenue. Some of the products can be sold on a cash basis, but others require an order from a physician.

That means that providers need to do referral marketing when it comes to driving their pain management business. Of course, referral marketing isn’t limited to selling to the referring physicians; they must tap into secondary referrals. Secondary referrals are the members of the local healthcare market that will tell physicians about the HME provider that is offering pain management products.

In that regard, chiropractors can make excellent secondary referrals. The key is understanding how chiropractors fit into the continuum of care for pain management clients.

First off, one of the first things to understand is that chiropractors can be providers of pain management products, too. They can get a Medicare PTAN, get accredited for DMEPOS, obtain any necessary state licensure, and secure all the necessary requirements to work with prescribing physicians and serve their patients with pain management products.

“The prescribing physician sends an order to the chiropractor and the chiropractor fills that order … to help alleviate pain,” Canally says.

So in that respect, chiropractors might be a competitor. That means providers need to do the leg work to find out which chiropractors are actually providing pain management products. However, chiropractors can be excellent secondary referral sources, as well, says Sandra Canally, RN, the founder and CEO of accreditation organization The Compliance Team.

“Because a majority of chiropractors’ business is directly related to pain management, it could be that Doctor Smith, sees Mrs. McGillicuddy, knows she’s in a lot of pain that could be alleviated by, for example, an orthopedic brace. The chiropractor could have formed a relationship with ABC Medical, which specializes in orthopedic braces, and [the chiropractor] then asks for them as a referral source.”

In terms of the patients visiting chiropractors that could benefit from products offered by an HME provider, they run the gamut of all pain management patients. It could be sports therapy clients, people who have suffered an injury, weekend warriors that overdid it, etc.

The key, Canally says, is to remember that it is the physician that orders the pain management products, so the provider wants to work with chiropractors that have solid relationships with physicians.

“Look at the chiropractor as being part of the circle of care,” she explains. “They’re not the primary. They’re not the DME (in this instance). But they’re still providing services that are directly related to pain management.”

In working that relationship with chiropractors, HME providers want to prove quality and outcomes, Canally says.

"It's about monitoring the pain management results," she explains. "The DME is tracking the results through follow-ups and asking questions such as 'has the patient's pain, stiffness, swelling and mobility improved with the device?'"

Then the provider wants to share those results with the chiropractor who can pass them along with other stakeholders in the patient's care, as well.

"That will cement relationships with the primary care physicians or the orthopedic physician, as well as the chiropractors in [the provider's] area," Canally notes. "…I see the DME specializing in these orthopedic products as a champion for pain management, but nobody is going to know that unless they are talking to the primary care people, the orthopedic people and the chiropractors."

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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