Why you need to build professional referral bridges 5/5 (49)


Wanted: Successful Acupuncturist

Seeking well-educated, charming, and nicely groomed acupuncturist who gets good results. Must have good communication skills and polite bedside manners. Practical experience in the field of bridge building is a MUST.


If this ad were for a real position, would it apply to you?

Why does an acupuncturist NEED experience building bridges?

The bridge I am referring to does not involve an engineer or require a hammer and nails. A bridge connects two environments or reduces the distance between them. I am talking about bridging the gap between Eastern and Western medical practitioners.

In 2002, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) produced a research article entitled:

“Physicians Want Education About Complementary and Alternative Medicine to Enhance Communication With Their Patients.”

Some interesting statistics came from this study:

76% of patients are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
59% of patients ask their physicians about specific CAM treatments
48% of physicians have recommended CAM treatment
84% of physicians thought they needed to learn more about CAM to adequately address patients’ concerns

A few things really caught my attention:

A: Patients ARE ASKING their doctors for alternative forms of treatment.

B: Doctors want to LEARN MORE so that they can comfortably refer patients.

C: Acupuncturists who are good at building bridges, WILL RECEIVE REFERRALS from medical doctors.

The question is:

How do you build a bridge between your office and the doctor’s office down the street?

It won’t be easy…or will it? Let’s explore the possibilities.

I’ve found that teaching patients and members of the community is a whole lot easier than teaching doctors!

The reason for this is simple. Doctors are busy doing what they have been trained to do. Patients, on the other hand, are busy looking for alternative solutions for what the doctors CAN’T do—and they have more time to sit and listen to what you have to say.

It’s easy: If patients have more time to learn about our medicine than most medical doctors, why don’t we use them to help us build the bridge?!?!

There is one thing that doctors and other healthcare professionals struggle with. If you can focus on this one little niche, you WILL get referrals. Once the patient winds up in your office from the referral, the real bridge building begins. Let me explain…

Chronic Pain: A key to getting referrals

Most doctors don’t know what to do with patients who have chronic pain. Once the patient has tried typical diagnostic testing and pain relievers such as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants—doctors are often stumped. Chronic pain patients eventually become dissatisfied because their problems are not resolved. Doctors do not want to continue treating patients that they can’t help and they are happy to refer them out. As acupuncturists, we are happy to take on chronic-pain conditions.

Getting your foot in the door at the doctor’s office is the hardest part. The good news is that YOU, as an AcuGraph owner, have the advantage! You have scientific data to affirm how acupuncture works—and you can show the Western doctors that you are getting good results.

AcuGraph is a diagnostic testing device used to determine which bioenergetic imbalances are causing symptomatology for the patient.

Here’s how it works…

Step 1: Find out who your chronic pain patients have been seeing for Western medical care.

  • With each new patient, send a letter to her medical doctor explaining your exam findings,  including a copy of the baseline graph. Include your treatment plan outline and a simple, one-page summary of how you can help chronic pain patients with Western medical diagnosis such as fibromyalgia, frozen shoulder, chronic low-back pain, migraine headaches etc., along with several of your cards. Let the doctor know that you would be happy to meet with him/her to discuss your treatment successes. He/she will either meet with you or not. It doesn’t matter. My experience has been that they begin sending referrals anyway.
  • You may think this is too much trouble, and I admit it will take a little time in the beginning to put together your templates for the introduction letter, treatment plan, and exam findings. But this time investment will pay dividends many, many times over as you can readily interact with medical practitioners in a way they both understand and appreciate. Think about how you would feel if the tables were turned. If you referred a patient to a medical doctor, and that doctor sent you an introduction letter, exam findings, treatment plan and follow-ups, how would you regard that doctor? (I know because I’ve been there as well. And I’ll most certainly refer to that doctor again if the need arises.)

Step 2: You have your first referral from the MD.

  • Educate your new PATIENTS on the benefits of acupuncture–so that they can go back to their medical doctor and brag about you.
  • Continue to send graph reports now and again to update the doctor on your progress with his/her patient. Don’t forget to add more copies of your single-page summary educating him/her about the benefits of acupuncture.


Step 3: Once you begin getting regular referrals, follow through.

  • Repeat step two.
  • Touch base now and again with the front-office staff. I like to bring flowers or treats from a local bakery when replenishing business cards—because, winning the hearts of the front office staff, is your ticket through the door.
  • Bonus: It is EXTREMELY helpful if your patient sends a note to the doctor’s office thanking them for the referral. Have note cards available at your office, already stamped and addressed to the doctor, so that your patient can write a quick note and send it off in the mail. When patients are happy, the doctor will be happy to send more referrals.


Step 4: Continue with STEP 1–each time a new patient comes into your office.

I highly suggest that you add “Bridge Building” to your resume. AcuGraph makes it easy because it allows you to offer both your patient, and the referring physician, a report of findings based on modern, scientific evidence.

Are you using AcuGraph to get your foot in the door and make a good impression?

AcuGraph Video demoIf your answer is YES, then you have the advantage over your competition.

If the answer is NO, then what are you waiting for? 

Click the icon on the right and get started learning all of the ways AcuGraph will help your practice!

Have a fantastic week!

Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.





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Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac.

Dr. Kimberly Thompson, DACM, L.Ac. is a US licensed acupuncturist in the state of Idaho and certified in the treatment of acupuncture, Oriental medicine and Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Kimberly wears multiple hats in the acupuncture community. She owns her private clinic, Meridian Family Acupuncture. She has spent the last 10 years working for Miridia Technology as an acupuncture Research Analyst–where she helps plan, develop, and integrate modern diagnostic and treatment tools for the ever-evolving scientific world of acupuncture. Kimberly is a world-renown teacher, blogger, columnist, and mentor in the acupuncture community.

5 Replies to “Why you need to build professional referral bridges

    1. Dr. Vijayjumar,

      Every week we send out articles that are designed to help you in your practice. I’m glad you’re finding them beneficial! When you’re on our web page you’ll occasionally be asked to subscribe to receive more information. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll send you all the help we can!


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