Referral Patterns of Orthopedic Surgeons

This program is about the MD referral. While many of the doctors that we are educating are in the primary care world, it is also important to market your practice to specialists. The next several consultations will continue to break down a very important survey.  Let’s continue with the next portion of the 2006 survey of orthopedic surgeons.  This is an inside look at how many orthopedic surgeons refer and how frequently.  Remember, you can’t (and shouldn’t) work with everyone, so pick the ones that you can build a healthy relationship with and spend your time cultivating that relationship.  It is easier to turn 1-2 patients every few months into 3-4 per month than to start fresh with an unfamiliar office.  With that being said, we will look at frequency of referrals, number of patients referred per year and the reasons for chiropractic referrals.  As you will see, there are small things that we can do to increase these rates.


There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to referrals and new patient visits.  Orthopedic surgeons who practice in the United States reported how frequently they refer for chiropractic treatment.  The results are as follows:
1.  Daily – 3.8%
2.  Weekly – 7.9%
3.  Monthly –  16.9%
4.  Every year – 33.9%
5.  Never – 37.6%

Okay, so the majority refer yearly or never.  The next statistic evaluated how many patients they refer for chiropractic care on an annual basis.


1.  1 – 10 patients – 40.1%
2.  11 – 25 patients – 13.6%
3.  26 – 50 patients –  3.7%
4.  > 50 patients  –  5%
5.  None  –  37.6%

Over 1/3 do not refer for chiropractic care, which means that 62.4% DO REFER FOR CHIROPRACTIC CARE…We are not concerned with the 1/3 that DO NOT refer and we probably would never change their minds anyway. So, what happens if we take those that do refer and move them in to the >50 category?  What would that do for YOUR practice and chiropractic in general?  This is what this is all about; being in control of our message! For those surgeons that referred for chiropractic care, let’s look at what the reasons are behind the referrals.


When looking at the surgeons that did refer, here are the reasons why they sent a patient for chiropractic care

1.  Patient request – 55.3%
2.  Non-response to medical treatment – 45.4%
3.  Literature supports chiropractic – 20.4%
4.  Relationship with a specific chiropractor – 23.7%
5.  Personal experience as a chiropractic patient – 8.6%
6.  Other – 3.9%

*Total percentage is >100% as respondents could choose more than one 


The paper states, “The majority of orthopedic surgeons (71.4%) had not been exposed to information on chiropractic during medical school and, of the respondents who were, only 7.2% reported that information was favorable.”  (p. 2820)  We can ask the question, who are they learning from?  Certainly not us………Are there DCs coming in to teach or are they involved in Grand Rounds? Working your way into this position will elevate you instantly!

Most respondents (67.9%) felt that medical training should include exposure to chiropractic and 27.2% reported that they were interested in learning more about chiropractic” (p. 2820).  This is a great statistic and provides opportunity.  We need to control this opportunity and educate.  The lesson here is to FIND THE DOCTORS THAT ARE CURIOUS AND WANT TO LEARN.  These MDs will embrace you, provided you follow the protocols established in the MD Referral Program.

Start with a number of offices that you can handle, specifically within your circle of influence.  This refers to the offices that you have a relationship with already.  If you are just starting out, work with the MDs that are currently treating your active patients.


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