Tag Archives: nell Smircina

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Are You Practicing in a Vacuum? Nell Smircina



Click here to download the transcript.

Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of To The Point. I am Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council. Thanks so much for having me, and let’s go to the slides.

Hey, we’re gonna be talking a little bit about this idea of practicing in a vacuum, and we pose this as a question, are you practicing in a vacuum? But I feel pretty confident with the experience that I’ve had in this industry to let you know. You might be. We are mostly sole proprietors. We’re thrust out of school and pushed into being small business owners.

A lot of times the mechanism of practice setup is, all right how do I figure out how to afford to rent one room and then scale to two rooms, and when do I get to a. Point where I could bring on an admin assistant or an office manager or another practitioner, and sometimes we don’t even have the time or the bandwidth to look at strategy around this.

And what often ends up happening with this mechanism of getting into practice. We forget about all of the resources around us. The resources that we could be leveraging outside of the four doors of our treat or the four walls of our treatment room, and really say to ourselves, all right, like, how do I leverage these resources around me to grow my business, to be more successful, to welcome more patience and.

To even have resources available that I don’t have to create on my own, whether it’s marketing collateral education resources for patients or for other providers. And so we’re gonna talk a little bit about those industry resources that we should be leveraging today. So first, we have to address the misconceptions here.

Again, we have our tunnel vision. , we’re focused on patient care. We’re trying to figure out how to afford everything and how to grow and how to scale. So a lot of times this mindset that there’s no infrastructure already set up, can creep in. Maybe we’re only familiar with our school. or the school alumni network, if your program even has a viable alumni network available to you.

And so we don’t think about what’s already there, what’s already set up that we can be leveraging. There’s also a lot of confusion around regulation versus advocacy. So what are these different players in the game and how do we fit into that equation? And this idea of limitations to involvement with that.

So we might see these big groups out there and think, oh, we’re divorced from them. They’re so far away. They’re a regulatory agency, or they deal with advocacy and that feels a little too far from. Me and my practice. And just to tell you that’s not true. There are definitely ways to be involved.

And we actually did another show specifically around leveraging advocacy for your business. And you can tune into that one as well and take a listen. Let’s look at first, who are these main players to get a little oriented to our industry and then we can talk about how we’re leveraging them. So the Council of Colleges actually was the creator of Clean Needle Techniques.

So we all had to do that in order to get into internship to then go ahead and get licensed or get our national board certification. And this is actually a collection of. School leadership. So schools join the Council of Colleges. And so in addition to issuing the Clean Needle Technique certification, they also gather multiple times a year, have different committees, and they’re looking at what are common issues that schools are experiencing.

We have had school closures just in the last few years. We’re probably gonna continue to see some consolidation. . So we wanna make sure we’re really tuned into what’s happening on an education level and what goes hand in hand with that is acom. So the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and herbal medicine, they’re actually linked up with the Department of Education who oversees what they do, and then they go and accredit the different schools, our education and.

Institutions. This allows for things like financial aid to happen so that we have an infrastructure set up where students can come in and get that federal financial aid support. If we didn’t have that accreditation, that wouldn’t be available to us, and that would really stall a lot of things in our industry.

There’s opportunities to be involved with them. You can be a site visitor. You can serve on their board of commissioners as well. Council of Colleges, if you’re involved with the schools, you can be a part of Council of Colleges and serve on one of their committees and help influence how the more minute details of education and school initiatives are happening.

And then everybody’s familiar with N C A O M. . Even in California, people are getting N C O M certified. So this is really those minimum standards. When we’re looking at getting into practice. For most states, they require these N C O M exams for licensure and a lot of states, Also require you to re-certify every four years.

Now, NCCM has a ton of resources. They have a provider directory. You can look on their website for different continuing education for your PDAs. You could be a PDA provider and be marketing yourself and your courses through them. So even though these are more Organizations that develop standards and are more regulatory in nature, there are still opportunities within them and still resources available to you even if you’re just in private practice.

And I wanna briefly note the difference between regulatory and advocacy or associations. . When I was the president of ciso, which is a state association in California we would get calls all the time for people thinking that we were the acupuncture board who issues licenses, who does the exam, who regulates the profession in California.

And so there are different agencies. We talked about standards and more the regulatory, but then you also have these advocacy organizations. And so a regulatory board who’s issuing your license. Their responsibility is to protect the public, not to advocate on behalf of the profession. So it’s important to be knowledgeable about where are our advocacy resources and how do we go ahead and leverage them.

So here are some really exciting big players in the advocacy, and I like to say advocacy slash. Fun stuff and awareness for the profession. Because some of these organizations, their primary initiative is advocacy and some of them, they’re just doing really good work that help elevate our profession.

And then they have great resources for us as well in private practice. The biggest one we wanna think about is American Society of Acupuncturists. That’s our National Trade Association. You have states like state associations like Selma, like the North Carolina Association, the DC Association, they are all members.

Of asa. So it’s a federation style organization. So states get voting rights and everybody’s an equal player, and that council of states is really powerful and they get to decide different initiatives that happen from a national level. I do have the pleasure of serving on the board for asa. We just had an awesome conference.

We were just on Capitol Hill talking about. Garnering support for our Medicare bill so that we can direct bill Medicare as providers. So there’s a lot of good work that’s being done at a federal level. And if you go on as a’s website, if you join a committee, if you are involved in your state association, who’s a member of asa, you get a ton of benefits.

There are one pagers that you can send to other medical providers explaining acupuncture. There are templates for advocacy in your state. So if you’re interested in going and speaking to your representatives, looking at a one pager and saying, Hey, how do I need to prepare? How do I find my representatives?

These types of things. These are resources that are available to you as well as like deals, discounts for different vendors in the industry. And then you have the Society for Acupuncture Research. I was also just at their conference last weekend, and this is an international organization, however really strong in the state.

So they had the conference in New York and they’re another organization that has. Tons of resources for you. You can go on their website, you can become a member. You can have access to different databases. See the incredible amount of research that our profession is involved in and how that works and the resources here for you and your practice.

You can easily have access to that research. Sometimes patients are gonna wanna know that information. Sometimes other providers wanna know that information. And seeing how this is done on a global level, it is a little bit different in the states than how other countries practice. And that global and cultural awareness is really important, especially today.

And I did throw on here e b a evidence-based acupuncture. I recently at the SAR conference met one of their board members and I was asking him, what’s the difference here? Because there seems to be a lot of overlap with the research and the good work that’s. Being done. Evidence-based acupuncture is like a little more a little more patient friendly, a little more lay person friendly.

So if you want like quick fact sheets that you can give to anyone, that’ll speak to people in a way that they can understand. Stand, even if they’re not familiar with research or acupuncture, they’re a great resource for you. And so a lot of these things are going to make your practice life easier because you’ll have resources to pull from so you’re not reinventing the wheel.

You don’t have to create a one pager for yourself about how acupuncture works for other medical providers. You get to download it from one of these organizations who’s already done it in a really easy and professional way. And I also like to put APA on here, American Herbal Products Association.

This is an organization that is a lot bigger than just our profession. They do have a Chinese medicine, like a Chinese herbs committee. But as a broader aspect, they’re really involved staying on top of what’s going on with F D A regulations how would this trickle down effect impact our profession?

And so even just getting on their mailing list and seeing what they’re up to, a lot of these quick updates will come out through them. When something around herbal medicine happens. So if there’s a press release that comes out or an adverse event they’ll probably have knowledge about it and be sharing that information in a really tangible way so that you get the entire story.

So let’s talk about, again, back to that vacuum effect. Is that what’s happening? Did. Maybe coming into this conversation you thought, oh no, I’m aware, , I’m not practicing in a vacuum. Were you aware of all these organizations? Are you aware of the resources available to you? Are you reinventing the wheel when you don’t need to be?

I hope that after this really brief 11 minutes that you’ve had a little bit more of an introduction to not only the resources available to you, but the ways that you can get involved. All of these organizations that I’ve mentioned have additional opportunities and some of them. Are revenue generating opportunities, ways that you could go and implement your skillset beyond private practice to help some of these organizations.

some of them are volunteer based, some of them are putting out resources for you. But regardless of that situation, please take the time to look into them, research them, see that they can help you with your marketing, with your collateral, with things that you would be spending your time and energy doing.

And also the networking that you get through this, going to these different conferences, hopping on their different. Portals, seeing the discounts and deals that are available to you. You’re not alone in practice. There are plenty of organizations here for you. We do have an infrastructure built in this industry that we need to strengthen and get more involved in.

And of course, I like to put AAC as this last resource for you. A lot of the opportunities that I’ve been introduced to were introduced to me through AAC. And so whether it’s your following on Facebook, Book you’re calling us up and saying, oh hey, like I have this issue. We’re always here to help. I’m always here to help and so please feel free to reach out with any additional questions.

Thank you all so much for being here, and do not forget to tune in next week for another episode of To The Point.


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Can Advocacy Help Build Your Practice? Nell Smircina



I wanna thank AAC for having me here and letting me talk about advocacy and how it can help build your practice.

Click here to download the transcript.

Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hello and welcome to another episode of To The Point. I’m Dr. Nell with the American Acupuncture Council, and I wanna thank AAC for having me here and letting me talk about advocacy and how it can help build your practice. So let’s go to the slides.

For those of you who know me you know that this is actually part of why I got involved with aac. So being trained as a practitioner building my own practice and really my goal was always how are there. Gonna be enough hours in the day so that we can focus on building this profession.

And so I designed my practice in such a way where I could also spend time being an advocate. And what I found through that process was that advocacy can actually help build your business. So some of the things we’re going to get into today, really surprising ways that you can be an advocate. We a lot of times all have certain views when we hear the word advocate or the word advocacy.

Might have certain assumptions around that and might think it has absolutely nothing to do with business building or practice building. And that it’s a very separate thing. But we’re also gonna talk about how you can leverage advocacy to bring more. Into your practice. And then, okay, what are next steps, right?

So are you involved as an advocate? Should you be involved? And what do those things look like? Like I was saying, this is a big reason that I did get involved with AAC because as a solar practitioner, there are certain things that you can do, but there was also this really great organization that was helping to advance the profession in really tangible.

And as one individual, we fit as part of a collective in the profession. So it’s an exciting time. We’re gonna talk about a few of those things today and how you can really get involved. But first let’s get into a little bit of what is advocacy and what are those surprising ways? , this is usually this picture or this previous picture is what people normally think about when they hear the word advocacy.

It’s that, oh, I have to be a public speaker. I have to be out in front of a large crowd, or talking to a lot of people, or. Doing some type of pr I have to be visiting legislators offices, and that can feel a really daunting and b, sometimes just unappealing to your general practitioner who wants to be able to sit there and talk with their patients.

And so really the goal is, all right, let’s understand what are some creative ways to be an advocate, because it doesn’t have to look like this. This is what it looks like for me because I enjoy going and speaking at schools, and I enjoy being a part of the national Association on their board and going out and talking to different legislatures.

But that doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do to really have an impact. So really simple ways that you can have an impact is realize that. You as a licensed acupuncturist, anytime you are talking to someone about this medicine, anytime you’re talking to somebody about acupuncture, traditional medicine, how it can help them the education that you have, you are advocating.

for this profession. And so that could be a one-on-one conversation, that could be a one-on-one conversation with a prospective patient with someone on the street. I always use the example of meeting people in coffee shops. I clearly go to a lot of coffee shops cuz that’s always my default on how people must meet people.

But let’s say you’re talking to somebody in a coffee shop about acupuncture and they’ve never heard of acupuncture. and they come and see you or they come and see one of your colleagues. That person can turn into a person who then goes and tells another person that they should come and benefit from this medicine.

So you are helping to grow efficacy. You are part of an effort. To expand awareness around care, to let people know the value that this profession provides. So it’s not always that you have to then go and talk to someone in Congress or at a state level. , although that is something that we’re gonna talk about as well, if that is something that you’re interested in.

So thinking of yourself as really this term of a professional model, professional modeling. We’re showing people who are coming into the profession, if we are more veteran practitioners, showing people the way, helping to advocate for. Effective business practices for being successful in practice so people know, oh, this is a safe profession to come into.

This is a great profession to come into. And so through those different avenues, whether it’s general public, your patients other practitioners coming into the field, you are helping to be an advocate, even if it is on a one-on-one level, and it’s not going directly to our legislature. , but let’s talk about this because this is sometimes the pushback that we get.

Let’s get past the public speaking and I don’t wanna do that. We can do that with our patients, we can do that, on a one-on-one. But, we’re also trying to build a practice, right? And we need to make a living. We need to be able to support the patients that we do have. We need to be able to bring in more patients than who we currently have.

So how can advocacy. Potentially build our practice. . A foundational concept of being an effective advocate is communication. So we’ve done a couple different Facebook shows around this topic, storytelling your elevator pitch, how are you articulating the value that we provide? One, using those skills in any of those avenues as an advocate, helping to hone those skills is going to make you more effective when it comes to building your practice.

But also, I have to tell you as I got more and more involved in larger skill advocacy work, so I was the president of my state association and now being on the board for asa, which is the National Trade Association, my patients really loved this. , I was a little nervous at first that, oh, I might not be in on this particular Friday because I’m gonna be going to this conference and speaking, or because I’m going to go and do a meeting with my representative.

I’m gonna have to block some time off and let patients know oh, you can see me Monday through Thursday next week because this is what I’m doing. Actually sharing that information with patients is critical in how it can help build your practice. I had more patients when I was practicing in LA who would refer people in and they would say, oh, my friend sees you, and he said, you’re the president of the state association.

That’s so cool. So patients get really excited. You’re knowledgeable about your craft, that you know the industry that you’re part of, that you’re part of a community, and you are, versed in how to leverage that community. Because resources that you have as a provider, that you have as an advocate then trickle down to your patients.

And when it comes to blending those two concepts of how do we get really good with our communication? . And then how do we articulate this information to patients that we are involved in our profession because we love it so much and we wanna see it succeed, and we want this medicine to reach as many people as possible.

When you blend those two things, then you get to the point where, You’re better at articulating that treatment plan and you have more credibility when you’re telling your patient that you are involved. So not only are we practicing the communication not only are we truly involved in our profession and know what’s going on but.

then we can fully articulate that to our patients. Have the credibility to be able to say, I know this medicine. I know other people in this medicine, and if you need an additional referral, I’ve got you. That gives patients a lot more confidence and a confident patient, a trusting patient. An enthusiastic patient.

Those are the patients who are going to help you build your practice. So then you’re not stuck in that one-on-one referral machine. You have people who are then out there advocating for you as a provider for your practice. So last question we wanna answer quickly is, Are you involved and should you be?

And what does that even look like? Like I said, for some of you, your involvement is going to be, I’m gonna get really effective at articulating the value of this medicine to people, and I’m gonna be an advocate on that level so that on a, in a one-on-one conversation, more people are gonna come into acupuncture.

You could take that a step further. You join your state association and there’s so many different levels of involvement there. You can simply be paying dues to help support the mission of the association. And I have to tell you, we’re like the only healthcare profession that makes this optional.

Every other healthcare profession, you get your license and you’re a member of an association and they have very powerful associations for that reason. They’re able to pass more legislation, they’re able to get the attention of representatives in a more effective way because of the strength of those associations.

We’re the only ones who just say, ah, if you wanna be involved. So to make it really easy for you all, you can simply be a dues paying member. What does that. It helps support the mission of the association. It helps advance the medicine, the people who are working on those boards, on those committees who are working so hard.

Those dues help that mission continue. But at the same time, you also get to be kept in the know. So maybe you’re like, I don’t have time to serve on a committee. I don’t have time to serve on a board. I wanna focus on my practice. At least you’re getting that information via email. Webinars that come up where there’s information available you can attend.

And you have the option to get more involved. You could be on a committee for your state association, you could be on the board. And then state associations in turn are members of a national association. So you could get involved with the national Association, through the state association as well, and work on things on a more federal level.

So there are conferences coming up for the asa as the National Association in. I will be there. AAC will be there supporting as always. One of my favorite things about this company is, man, do they show up for these associations and trade shows to make sure that the organizations are well supported.

And then you have. Organizations like the Society for Acupuncture Research, if you’re really into research, that could be a great organization to get involved with, to know what’s going on in an international level. They have a conference coming up too in May and. AAC will be there as well. So I’m hoping that as you’re going through this, you see it’s not just a one size fits all approach.

This is not something where you have to be out there doing public speaking. This can go anywhere from, I’m getting really good at communicating the value that this medicine has to provide to, Hey, I wanna be on the board of a national association. There are so many things in between that. So many ways to start honing your skills so you can help grow this profession, grow this medicine, and help improve the experience for your patients and your practice as well.

As always, if you have any additional questions for me please feel free to reach out. It’s nell@acupuncturecouncil.com. Loved seeing you all, and don’t forget to tune in next week for another episode of To the Point, tons of value to be offered for you guys. Have a great day.


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3 Things Your Missing for Consistent Revenue Growth



So we’re gonna talk about what you’re missing for consistent revenue growth in your practice today.

Click here to download the transcript.

Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hello. Welcome to another episode of To The Point. I’m Dr. Nell. I wanna thank American Acupuncture Council for having me today, and let’s go right into the slide.

So we’re gonna talk about what you’re missing for consistent revenue growth in your practice today. What’s happened to a lot of us before, I’m speaking from experience, we get started in practice. Maybe things are going well, maybe we have this misconception that growth is just going to be linear, and that trend is going to continue the entire time.

But don’t often take a second to check in on what are the things that are working, what are the things that are not, is it time to scale? And so we’re gonna talk a little bit about the things that you might not be thinking about when it comes to revenue growth today. . Let’s see. So this is what I thought when I was first getting into practice that, oh, okay.

I’m starting out, I’m at the beginning, so obviously I’m not gonna be making a ton of money right away. Acupuncture is a relatively low startup cost considering what other industries look like. So a lot of us come right into practice, not taking out loans, not having a ton of capital, getting right into it.

And Pros and cons to that. But we think, oh, hey, we have a few patients. We’re already making money. This is great. And okay, maybe six months later it’s gonna be a little bit different, a little bit different. And what I’ve noticed when I’m working with other practitioners or students who are gonna be getting started in practice, Because we don’t have a ton of business training when it comes to our schooling.

And this is, not a ton of fault to the schools. They have to get us prepared for boards, right? But with 95% of acupuncturists being sole proprietors small business owners, we’re not really taught these things that we have to consider when it comes to growing our practice. And a lot of times it ends up.

Very reactive and we think, oh great, we’re not losing money this month. So wonderful. Like I said, that growth is not necessarily going to be exactly linear, but what we wanna see in our businesses is a constant trend of growth. So even if there are weeks that might fluctuate a little bit, months, that might fluctuate.

You work primarily with teachers and. People go away during the summer, they’re not working, they’re off their schedules. These are all things we need to factor into our equation when it comes to having that consistent revenue growth. So the first thing that we might not be thinking about when it comes to our consistent revenue growth is mindset.

Now, I think that term often gets overused at times, but we do need to address what’s the mindset of our industry and then how does that affect us in practice? How does it affect our patients? How do we let Our ethics, our values, our beliefs bleed into our practice. And so there can be a little bit of a scarcity mindset when it comes to this medicine, when it comes to our industry.

And so that’s okay. It’s just an important trend to note so that we can fix it on our end. Just having that awareness that this is something that we need to be considering as we are trying to champion growth in our businesses is important. That lack of business training that also could go into our mindset.

It could affect our confidence when it comes to the next steps. And what I see a lot of times, and I’ve been guilty of this too, is we jump right into executing right into strategy without even checking in. Is my mind, right? Is this really what I want to be doing? Do I have the right tools in place?

Does this make sense at this time? And so mindset is really key when it comes to having that consistent growth, because you don’t have to be in a perfectly positive mood every day. You don’t have to be a hundred percent every day. That’s complet. Unrealistic to think that we would be able to but we need to be more on than we’re not, and we need to be just really clear about the type of mindset that we need to have for that consistent growth.

So mindset is the first of these three things that might not be on our radar as we’re trying to jump right into executing on getting more patients in the door. The second thing is clarity. , what do we even mean by clarity? It’s another word that I think if any of us heard it, we might have a different definition as to what that means to us.

When I talk about clarity, when it comes to consistent revenue growth in your practice, the strategy that you’re going to have, how you’re gonna execute on that, how do we keep things consistently? Trending forward. I’m talking about your why your clarity around do you even want to scale your business?

Are you someone who’s very happy being a solo provider and you don’t want other providers in your space? That’s okay. There’s a financial reality that goes. With that, we might need to think about additional revenue streams when it comes to building. If it’s just going to be us, there is a set number of patients that we are gonna be able to see as an individual, and that obviously becomes exponential when you bring in another provider, when you bring in staff.

But that clarity around why we’re doing what we’re doing and what that vision for our practice truly looks like is incredibly important. When you’re talking about. Keeping patients coming in the door. If I know that I need to get to a certain number of patient visits before I can bring on another provider, if I know that’s something that I really want, that is going to allow the next steps in scaling my business to be all the more simple, because I’m very clear on what I want that to look like for my business.

We talked in a previous show about having a business. , and it can be very simple, very easy if you miss that one. It’s something you can do in one hour to make sure that you stay on track. And it really does fit into this clarity piece on how you’re going to continue to have consistent patients coming in the door, —-consistent growth for your business.

So very clear on why I am doing what I’m doing, what I want the future to look like. And we’re not just talking about practice, we’re talking about. Because your practice is going to have to fit into your life. And so those goals need to be really realistic within that. And then the last piece, now we can finally get to the strategy.

And this was the three things that you might not be considering for that growth. I think a lot of us. Think about strategy a lot, but a lot of times it’s jumping right into execution. Strategy has a lot of these different pieces to it. So you’ll see the puzzle piece theme that we went through today.

But it’s not just about your customer. It’s not just about how your business is now. It’s how you want your business to be. And are we working through that analysis? So looking. What are all these pieces? What has the past trend look like? What do I want the future to look like? Do you have additional products?

Is your service offering your only product? What’s your vision? And that should have been thought about in the mindset and clarity pieces, but now we get to actually have a framework and make some decisions around that. How do we. That, how do we work towards it with our marketing? Do we have a team? Is this team gonna play an integral part?

If you are planning to continue to scale and you have one provider and other than yourself and two office staff. . Okay. What comes next? Are you bringing on another office staff? Where’s the bottleneck in the capacity for your business? And a lot of times we might shy away from some of these conversations.

A lot of times it can be really difficult. That goes back to that mindset piece that we often don’t really dive into. We’re trained as clinicians. We’re trained as providers. A lot of people get into this medicine because they care about people, because they want to see people improve with their health, and not necessarily because they wanted to own a business, but that doesn’t mean.

There aren’t certain realities when it comes to growing our business or that, we need to make a living. And so to be able to do that and still stay true to that clarity, that vision that we had, we have to think about all these different puzzle pieces. How are we gonna develop different things and.

That gnarly budget. I remember being in school and having Marilyn Allen as my teacher in practice management, and it just felt like a fire hose. All of that information when it came to budgeting around each of these steps. So what happens sometimes is we get really fixated on one of these little puzzle pieces around strategy, and we completely forget that all of these things fit together and that you cannot even begin to develop a strategy.

First, having clarity on what you’re doing. And then prior to that, are you in the right state of mind? And how do you get there to make sure that you can consistently grow? So we have to keep our mind so that we can effectively help our patients. . So those are the three. I want you guys to just keep that in mind.

And what’s also really important about these three is that you do them at each level of growth. This is not something that, okay, I opened my practice doors for the first time and I’ve thought about mindset. I am clear on what I’m going to do and I have a strategy of what I want to accomplish. This is a constant check-in.

This is something that you can do monthly and make sure you’re on point. I like to set up little wellness checks for myself, mentally as well as physically to make sure that everything is on point when you’re growing your business. And so this is a constant check-in, just like checking in with your business plan.

Again, don’t miss that show that we did as well. And you’re gonna go through these things every time you decide to grow, not just checking in on a regular basis. Anytime you wanna bring on an additional team member, anytime you wanna bring in a new product or a new offering, or you wanna make changes to your fee schedule, these are three things that you wanna check in so that you can have that very consistent growth when it comes to your practice.

So we got through that nice and quick, I like to keep it efficient for you all. If you have any more questions, always feel free to reach out. We do these shows quite often, and don’t forget that next week there’ll be another episode of To the Point. Tune in and don’t miss it.


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Top 3 Questions Most Patients Will Ask You



Today we’re gonna be going over a topic that I get questions about a lot. These really seemingly simple questions that patients ask that sometimes tie us up a little bit.

Click here to download the transcript.

Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of To The Point. I am Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council. So excited to see everybody here and let’s go to the slides.

Today we’re gonna be going over a topic that I get questions about a lot. These really seemingly simple questions that patients ask that sometimes tie us up a little bit. And I’m gonna go over three today. There are tons more at the end. If you have more, shoot me a message. I would love to hear from you and we can always do more in the future.

Big question though that I get asked is if it’s so easy to answer these questions, then they’re seemingly simple. Why do we get tripped up with this? Why do we have nervousness or fears around it? And a lot of that comes down to not having an actual framework for answering these simple questions and taking a second to dive into that framework before blurting out the answer.

So I wanna start this with just an example for you. Actually last week I was thrilled to be sitting on a panel for Men’s Health at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. This is where I started my practice in Beverly Hills, and it’s been a great community experience. I do a lot of specialization in men’s health, and so this was a panel discussing the needs of high performing men.

And what was so interesting about this is I’m sitting on this panel with these other experts. Other leaders in the healthcare industry, and what the audience wanted to know most about was acupuncture. We had 10 minutes each to do our own talks, and then it was opened up to q and a from the audience, and it was almost as if I had to start tag teaming questions because so many were directed to me about acupuncture.

So it’s a really exciting time to be in a position to answer que questions that patients. To answer questions that the general public has. And so to be excited about this and not intimidated by it, that’s why we’re here today. So we’re gonna go through some of this and you guys are gonna walk away with an actual framework that you can sit back, relax, and think, okay, what do I need to dig into here in order to have this be a successful answer to this question?

So I’ve alluded to this framework a little. and I wanna get right into it because pretty much any question that you get asked should go back to this. And what does that look like? It’s going to come down to remaining confident. Meeting this person where they’re at with the question and borrowing authority if necessary.

And so we’re going to go through three questions that a lot of patients will ask. The last one might be a little surprise one because it’s really something that patients want to ask and sometimes they’re too afraid to. So we’ll go through this framework in the examples so that you guys can have that really hands-on approach to, how would I approach this example?

How does acupuncture work? I am sure anyone who’s watching this who has been in practice for, even if you’re an intern in clinic and not practicing yet, I know you’ve gotten this question. There are. Quite a few variations to the answer to this question that I’ve heard from people. A lot of times when I’m teaching classes, we’ll ask people, how would you answer this question?

And it is never an identical response across the board. But if we look at it from the framework that I brought up, remaining confident, first and foremost, a lot of times this first step in answering questions is actually what trips people up. Oh gosh. How does acupuncture work? We’re thinking about all of the incredible information that we’ve learned in school.

Chi, blood yin, how are these things going to benefit a person’s wellbeing? Whereas the patient who’s sitting across from us has no idea what those things are. In very rare cases they do. Sometimes they’re interested and want to know more. They might be coming from a place of concern. Maybe they’ve had a negative experience with acupuncture before.

Maybe they have heard about the needles and they’re worried about that. Maybe they asked their doctor and their doctor said I don’t know. I don’t know how it works. Maybe it works, maybe does, then I don’t know. So a lot of times that first remaining confident is where people get a little Huang up because they are worried about where that question is coming from, rather than the second piece of your framework, meeting someone where they’re at.

So if someone is asking you how does acupuncture work, meeting them where they’re at looks like this, depending on who’s sitting across from you, you are going to have a slightly different response for them. You can have a very general response for how acupuncture works, but if you are talking to a western medical doctor, This answer’s probably gonna look different than if you are talking to a 75 year old woman who wants to try acupuncture for her arthritis for her knees, and she’s never experienced it before.

None of her friends have had acupuncture before, and so you want to address the answer. Be something that someone can relate to. So if I am talking to a neurologist, I might talk about the nervous system and the map of the nervous system and how there’s significant overlap with the channels when it relates to acupuncture and the map of the nervous system.

If I’m talking to a. patient in LA I often talk about traffic because that’s something that people in LA can relate to. And we talk about this incredible network of channels and acupuncture points that we have. Being able to have them think about a roadmap and blockages rather than using terms like stagnation.

So first and foremost, Confidence, then you’re going to meet them where they’re at. And the last piece of this is key, because what I hear a lot of times from providers are, look, I just got outta school. How am I gonna have the expertise or the authority to be able to answer this question? What I know I’ve been licensed for two months.

You can borrow that authority. What do we mean by borrowing authority? We mean. You can say research has shown. That’s not saying that you have treated thousands of patients. You’re talking about the research which is there. You can say patients experience X, Y, and Z. That doesn’t mean that those are your patients who have experienced those things.

It could mean that these are other people’s patient. People included in research, colleagues, patients, these are still very true statements that put someone at ease. A blanket answer to this question that I like to give, particularly if you’re in California or a state where people are very knowledgeable about health and supplementation in these types of things.

I explain acupuncture as an adaptogenic. meaning that it helps the body adapt to any type of stress that it encounters. So what does that look like? Physiological stress, physical stress, emotional stress. And why is that important? People understand that stress has an effect on the body. So when you can tell them, it helps the body cope with stress.

That helps them understand why their sleep. When they’ve come in for low back pain, it helps you connect the dots for them. So it’s all about meeting them where they’re at. At the core of answering this question, another really common question that you’re going to get when you are, treating patients beyond how does acupuncture work?

Is, does acupuncture hurt? And this could be someone who’s a new patient coming in. This could be someone you run into on the street and is hesitant about coming in. There’s an important way to go about answering this question that A doesn’t discredit any techniques that our medicine has. We’re aware different techniques cause different sensation in the body, and so we wanna be mindful to not alienate any of those particular techniques, which might be more sensitive than others.

Have more stimulation than others. So again, if we go back to that framework remaining, I know my style and my technique, so I know I can speak to that. You can say acupuncture does not have to hurt to be effective. You can speak specifically to the thinness of the needles. You can talk about the safety of the needles.

You can talk about how yes, certain points are gonna be more sensitive than others. Obviously, hands and feet are a little more sensitive than let’s say the back would be. And these are things that people can understand, so you’re meeting them where they’re at, and then again, that borrowing authority you can reference.

Experiences that patients have had oh, other patients we’ll fall asleep on the table even after being nervous on that first session. Or, oh, my colleague was seeing a patient an X, Y, and Z. Or, research shows that people have improved sleep after acupuncture.

So you’re borrowing that authority to help answer that question and help support your answer to that patient so that they feel comfort. . And the last question, and this one I told you might be a surprise one. This is a question that I have had patients nervous to ask. Had patients who, were like I feel like I couldn’t ask this question.

And I’ve also had other providers tell me that this was a concern for patients. What about my other provider? There is sometimes a misconception that because our medicine has been referred to as alternative previously, now you’re hearing more holistic, integrative, comprehensive, personalized, those type of words.

But this verbiage of alternative makes it seem like it’s an either or. So patients might be concerned if I choose to go to acupuncture, does that mean I’m not allowed to see my other providers or, , you as an acupuncturist are going to ask me to not see other providers or say something negative about Western medicine, and so we wanna make sure that not only are we.

Prepared for this question. We wanna make sure that we proactively address this as well, because they might be afraid to ask it. They might be afraid to come to us. Maybe this is someone you’re meeting at an event while you’re networking or meeting on the street or at a coffee shop. You wanna make sure to proactively address.

This and speak to things like the comprehensive care, the collaborative care, being part of a care team. These are really important things to work its way into that equation. So again, that comes down to the confidence. If you are confident as a provider, you are not going to think that you have to be the be all end all for someone.

You are going to know the value that you can bring to the table and what lane you can be in meeting them where they. That’s anticipating this need, knowing that this could be a question that could come up and proactively addressing it, and that confidence factors into that proactive nature to this question as well.

And again, borrowing the authority. You can also talk about providers that you’ve collaborated with knowing that. Hey, I’m not, trying to be the be all end all for anyone. I love working as part of a care team. These are the ways that I’ve been successful in doing that. And so that helps you look more competent as a provider, look more collaborative, referencing the ways that you’ve done that in the past, and that can really put patients at eat.

Now there are so many other questions that patients will typically ask. I’m always happy to dive into any of those, but I want you all, I encourage you all as you go through answering a question, pause for just half a second. Remember this framework of first and foremost remaining confident because there’s actual research that people.

Better to individuals who are perceived as confident they’re more well trusted they’re more likely to follow your treatment plan if you appear more confident meeting the patient where they’re at, because this is a patient focused care. This is a personalized medicine. We never want to forget the intention of that.

And then remember, it’s okay to borrow authority if you are not feeling particularly c. If you’ve only treated a handful of patients with X condition and you know that it can be successful there’s other things you can leverage like research, like colleagues in order to boost that credibility as well.

So if you do have any other questions, please feel free to reach out. I’m here at American Acupuncture Council and I’m excited to help. Thanks for listening today and as you move on through your week, make sure to plan for next week because there will be another episode of To The Point and you don’t wanna miss it.


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Creating Your Business Plan in an Hour or Less



We’re gonna be talking about creating a business plan, and the caveat here is in one hour or less really big takeaways that we’re gonna have today are the main steps you have to go through.

Click here to download the transcript.

Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of To The Point. I am Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council, and I’m so happy to have you all here and talk about a really important topic that has been key to how I’ve developed my practice pretty much from start to scaling. So let’s go to the slides. A.

All right. We’re gonna be talking about creating a business plan, and the caveat here is in one hour or less really big takeaways that we’re gonna have today are the main steps you have to go through. A lot of times this feels overwhelming. I promise it will not be. Again, when I was growing my practice, I came out of school.

We don’t get a lot of business training. The schools prepare us so well clinically, and unfortunately we get into practice and have to be small business owners and don’t really know the steps to start that process from start to finish. And we get into this day to day where you’re like, all right, what are the things I absolutely have to do?

What ends up happening a lot of the time is we forget to plan and we take something like a business plan and say, oh, it, it’s too long. I’m not gonna be able to do it. But today you’re gonna walk away feeling comfortable, confident, and I’m gonna give you all the keys for success that I used in my own practice.

All right. So if this is so easy and you’re gonna come away in this short show, knowing these steps, why isn’t everybody doing it? What are the fears associated here? It’s about a lot of misconceptions when it comes to business plans in general. A big one is that, oh, they have to be in a certain format.

And if I don’t get the format exactly, rightly right, it’s just not gonna make sense. Nobody’s gonna wanna read it, it won’t provide any value for me or my business. That’s simply not true. There are several formats to business plans. They can range from being short to long more detailed. To less. There’s different formats if you’re looking for funding, if you’re not.

And that’s another common misconception, oh, I only need one if I’m looking for funding. A lot of acupuncturists straight out into practice aren’t seeking funding. Fortunately there are not a ton of startup costs compared to other industries when it comes to starting an acupuncture practice.

There are ways to start pretty small and scale. Really strategically, but there are still reasons to have business plans beyond seeking funding from I. . Another one is, oh, it can’t change, or it will take too much work for me to change it. Why put all this work in on the front end if I’m gonna have to change it later?

Or, I don’t have everything so fleshed out, so why put in all that time and energy? And we’ll get into how that can be really simple and streamlined for you. And then lastly that they’re not useful for acupuncturists specifically that, oh, if I. A tech startup company or if I’m someone who has a ton of inventory, like maybe that makes more sense to have a business plan, but I’m looking at being a sole proprietor to start.

Why do I even need one? And so we’re gonna go through these really key steps to make this process super easy for you and where you can see this is very relevant for you and for your. But first, let’s get into this, the traditional versus lean startup. There are different types of business plans. Like I said, they are not a one size fits all.

It’s not, oh, this has to be 18 pages long or it’s not worth doing. There’s a format called a lean startup business plan, which is actually very applicable for acupunc. Because we are often starting out lean not necessarily with a lot of inventory. Not with stock options not with a lot of these scaling opportunities that you would see in a lot of other business plans, but this lean startup business plan can be a really great fit for you and for your practice, particularly when you’re starting out.

So do you have an hour? We’re gonna go over this in less than an hour today, but you really only needed an hour to get this framework built because I’m going to give you step by step what you need to plug into this. Some people have this as a one pager, a guide, something they can reference back to.

I’ve had. Practitioners I work with who will start out with this framework as their one pager cover, and then they’ll develop a more traditional business plan and build out each of these sections really thoroughly. But this is just a basic framework that you can literally do in one hour or less, and it helps guide you.

It helps guide your business helps frame your decision making process. When you look at, oh, What are my goals for next year? What are my goals for next quarter, for next month? How did I do this month? You’re gonna be referring back to this plan and adjusting accordingly. So let’s get into it. What are these different sections in the Lean Startup plan?

First we’re looking at key partnerships. So what does that even mean? Keep partnerships. When you’re first starting out, you are looking at not only people you could collaborate with, but what vendors are you using, what distributors are you using? Who are you utilizing for your herbs, for your acupuncture supplies?

Are there opportunities for you to collaborate with those people? Looking at. In your area, if you’re going to be sharing a space with other providers or if there are other providers you want to be able to refer to, who are those key relationships, those key partnerships that you need to look out for?

Next, it’s key activities. This is what does your business do? In the day to day how do you gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace? What are things that make your practice a little bit different than other businesses in the area? With this section, you wanna think about, how are you Selling your services.

Are you’re obviously an acupuncturist, so you’re going to be going directly to a consumer. Are you going to be doing that with herbs as well? Are you going to be seeking referrals and when referrals come in, are you then looking to Do prepaid packages, if that’s allowed in your state.

What are the key activities that you’re doing in your business that are going to lead to that type of growth? And obviously acupuncture treatments fall into this. Herbs can fall into this nutrition advice can fall into this as well. And so thinking about what’s in your scope and how are you going to incorporate that in something that has to be in every business plan?

And this will look different depending on what kind of resources you do have. Some businesses are gonna have, Capital intellectual property. But really what are your key resources? Do you have money in the bank to help fund your business? Where are you at financially? Do you have intellectual property?

Do you have a low to go that’s trademarked? Things like that. And that would all go into key. And as you’re going through these sections, remember that you can bullet point this. It doesn’t have to start out in this really long, fleshed out framework. You can make some bullet points here and start there, and that’s how we get this under that hour.

Next is value proposition, which I absolutely love, and I want everyone to be so excited and so comfortable in talking about because your value proposition is just your compelling statement about what your practice brings to the marketplace. Think about the area that you’re in. Think about the needs that your community has and how are you.

To meet those needs. What are key issues that are happening in your community? Things that you can help solve, and then customer relationships. What does this look like just in the day to day of your business? Is it more automated? Are people. Online booking, is it very high touch? Are you doing house calls?

Are you going into people’s homes? Are you spending longer amounts of time with them? Are you having a higher volume practice than spending less time? But being able to meet needs more efficiently. What do those customer relationships look like? And when you do this section, you’re thinking about really patient experience from start to finish their first touch with you.

All the way through that first visit into how they’re interacting with you for follow-ups, all of that. And that makes us think, when we’re thinking about that customer experience, we of course need to have something about customer segments, right? So what exactly are customer segments? This is your target.

And you wanna be really specific with this because as you are building out a customer experience a patient experience, you wanna think about. Who is this really going to feel valuable to? Who is this gonna feel good to? Your branding for your business? All of that, it’s going to be very different.

What would attract I do a lot of men’s health. So a 55 year old man who’s experiencing andropause, that would look very different. That’s a very different. Segment of the market than a 20 year old female who is dealing with dysmenorrhea and extreme stress. Being at a college age and wanting to protect her health long term very different segments and a different value proposition and a different customer experience that could feel really meaningful for.

Next is channels. So how exactly are you interacting with your patients and perspective patients? Your target market? Are you doing Google ads? Are you on social media? Are you sending out blog posts? Are you doing a newsletter? Are you calling people to follow up and see how their treatment was?

All of these channels can be really meaningful. They also can be really targeted and more appropriate for certain audiences than others. And so you wanna make sure to put a little thought into that. Next is gonna be cost structure and with your cost structure. We think about, all right, what are we charging for acupuncture treatments or what is the increase that we’re gonna have on our herbs?

But there can be different folk eye depending on the type of practice you have. So with this cost structure, what you wanna think about is, are you focusing more on. Minimizing cost. Let’s say you’re doing a community acupuncture clinic and you know that your target market, that your demographic is going to fall into a lower income setting.

You’re gonna be more focused on cost saving. If you’re, in a higher income level and people are really focused on what is this experience going to be like for me, I want it to be high touch. Maybe you’re less concerned about saving costs, but more concerned about enhancing quality and the patient.

So looking at how are we gonna structure costs that it makes sense not only for your business but for the patient demographic that you’re looking to reach as well. Lastly, we’re gonna look at revenue streams. And this is actually one of my favorite pieces of this cuz it gets us thinking a lot of times his acupuncturist.

We called acupuncturists. So we think about the needle, we think about how much am I charging for a treatment, what’s my cash price, looking at what people are paying, with their copays out, out of network. All of those things. We factor in really primarily acupuncture.

However there are additional revenue streams that are available to us. You’re in insurance practice. Insurance isn’t going to cover cosmetic acupuncture or microneedling. Are you incorporating that? Are you incorporating herbal medicine into your practice? Nutritional consultation, Chiang Tai Chi.

There are so many aspects of our practice that we are able to offer to those who truly need it. And quite often we get hyper focused on the needling portion and that can be the only revenue stream It. A lot of you teach do consulting expert witness. There’s so many different revenue streams that are available to you as a practitioner who is so well qualified in this medicine.

So I just wanted you to be able to see quick summary. Lot of words on this. These are simply the ones that we went through and. You have got this. That’s the biggest thing. Did this in my last show. We talked a lot about confidence at the last speaking engagement I did and. I hope that this is something that you can take back to your practice, or if you’re a student, take back to school and know that you have such an easy, simple framework that will help you just like the way it helped me in my practice.

So thank you all so much for being here. Do not forget that next week you need to be tuning in for another episode of To The Point, and we will see you then.


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Getting A Constant Referral Flow from MDs



Today we’re gonna talk about probably one of the most common things that I get asked about as an acupuncturist who has grown her practice in a certain way, and that’s MD referrals.

Click here to download the transcript.

Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hi everyone. I’m Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council. So thank you to AAC for having me on the show today. Today we’re gonna talk about probably one of the most common things that I get asked about as an acupuncturist who has grown her practice in a certain way, and that’s MD referrals. So let’s go to the.

Like I said, this is one of the most common things I get asked about. We know that most acupuncturists build their businesses based on referrals. A lot of times that comes from. Patients who are already in your practice who already know, trust you. But there’s always this desire for more referrals, right?

We want to have a constant flow into our practice and really what does that look like? Where are those referral sources coming from? And MDs are a great one. There can be a little bit of intimidation here, but we’re going to go through all of that today and make sure that you walk away with really tangible.

As to how you can get this done quickly and easily.

So you have got this. What does this look like? So again, I told you a little bit about myself. I am with aac, but I’m also first and foremost a practitioner. So I built my practice. Almost solely based on MD referrals. And this was something that felt really efficient for me. As soon as I got a good workflow with it, it worked really well.

So being able to do in-office visits, house calls, get really clear about what type of patient I want into my practice, and then what. MD is to refer to me, is part of the strategy that I employed. So I’ve been on panels with other MDs. A lot of times there’s this thought that, oh MD is an acupuncturist.

Maybe we have to work separately. Maybe we need to stay over here with other allied health providers. That’s simply not true. There is such an interest right now in our medicine and there’s a huge value add that we can have to really any type of medical. And so when I’ve been speaking with other MDs, whether it’s at a symposium, at a conference, on a panel, just as collaborators and peers, we get such incredible feedback about the results that we get for patients.

And so I’m gonna teach you today a little bit about how I employ the strategy throughout my practice.

But first and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room. Why not? If it’s something that we can be doing, if there’s an interest, why is not every acupuncturist growing their practice in this way? Why isn’t every single MD referring to an acupuncturist? Why isn’t every surgeon saying. We need an acupuncturist to help with post-surgical recovery, or every cardiologist saying, wow, you could help with angina or lowering cholesterol.

Why isn’t this really happening? And so I think first and foremost, we need to address the fears on our end, the things that we can control, right? I’ve heard a lot of times this idea of intimidation, not just about MDs, but. Human nature, approaching a new person. What am I going to say to this person?

How do I get them to buy in? How do I get them excited about what I’m doing in my practice and get them to believe that I can really help them? With their practice as well. And so that fear is first and foremost something that we have to absolutely get rid of today. And we can, cuz we’re going to go through step by step how you can get this done safely, comfortably, and very effectively as well.

But before we go on, What’s the friction? How are we making this difficult and how do we make it easier? So there is a very real and tangible friction there. When it comes to us looking at who we want to approach for referrals. From an MD perspective, and this is coming from MDs I’ve actually spoken to.

So this is not just me pulling things out of thin air or wondering, I wonder if it’s this is actual feedback from other medical doctors. They don’t know you, first of all. There are patients who haven’t had a good experience with acupuncture, and more importantly and more likely MDs just don’t know an acupuncturist.

They don’t know that you’re there. So a lot of times it’s not an unwillingness. On the part of an MD to refer to us. It’s simply I just don’t know any acupuncturists. There’s also a lack of understanding, a lack of education there. Acupuncture versus dry needling. How do we fit into that? Do we do the same things that dry needle layers do?

Can we do dry needling? These are things that MDs have heard about but also need to be educated on. And so if. Don’t know you. They don’t know that there’s an acupuncturist in their area that they can refer to. How are they going to accomplish that? So it is about reducing that friction of making sure that MDs know that you’re there and they understand what you do.

Insurance is another big one that we have to talk about. Patients are accustomed to utilizing their, I. . More importantly though, they’re accustomed to utilizing the same mode of payment. Depending on what healthcare provider they go to, they wanna use the same thing. So for an example, if someone is seeing a cardiologist and they’re paying with their Blue Cross insurance and they get referred to somebody, they’re gonna want it to be somebody who takes their Blue Cross insurance.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a cash. Doesn’t mean that you can’t have a hybrid practice. In fact, that’s what I recommend, should talk to Sam Collins about that. But when we’re looking at those referral choices and who we’re going to work with, we need to think about it from the patient’s perspective.

And so there is friction occasionally when you have an MD who is willing to refer to you. But let’s say it’s an MD who is in network with everyone is working with. That’s gonna be a little bit of a roadblock for patients coming in. And it doesn’t mean we can’t work around that or work alongside it, but we first and foremost need to acknowledge it and be aware of it.

And the biggest thing is they don’t know you can meet their needs. , that does not mean that they don’t know the acupuncture works. It doesn’t mean that they haven’t heard of acupuncture before. Even if you’ve, all right I, they know I’m there at this point. They know I’m an acupuncturist.

There is still an innate human need to know what’s in it for me. How can this help me? And that’s from an MD perspective as well. That’s from. A surgeon saying how is this going to help me focus on what I want to do, which is surgery? I don’t wanna walk a patient through the recovery process.

I wanna be able to do surgery and be done with that. So when we’re gonna talk about next is the tangible ways that you can make this happen. One of the things that we’re gonna talk about is reducing that friction, about being really streamlined and targeted with our messaging around how we. The needs of whatever MD we’re talking to at that moment.

So let’s get into it nice and clean and specific. We’re gonna target, connect and follow up. What does this look like? All right. Targeting first and foremost. I do know acupuncturists who have sent out, thousands of letters to every MD in their area. That is certainly something you can do. It’s kinda that shotgun approach, right?

So just a lot of outflow and hope that something comes back. I’m really about efficiency. I know a lot of you that I’ve worked with are about efficiency and. A lot of times you’re running your own show as an acupuncturist, right? You might not have staff, or you have very limited staff, might just be you in the office.

So you need to be really clear about how you’re spending your time, what bandwidth you’re using how much of your cheese is gonna be used up on a project like this. And so if we can get really targeted with the MDs that we wanna work with, then this will be a much more streamlined process and a lot less work.

Let me do this in the form of an example for you. I work with Men’s Health a lot, so if I’m working with middle aged men who are experiencing andropause, I’m gonna say to myself alright. Where is a middle aged man? Normally going for his healthcare at this time when it comes to MDs, likely has a primary care doctor.

Probably has seen a cardiologist or a nephrologist. Kidney issues are very common. High blood pressure is very common at this age and then a urologist because urinary issues, prostate issues are extremely common in middle aged men. So that kind of narrowed my pool already, right? When I’m looking at, okay, I wanna be in middle aged men’s health, that’s who I wanna welcome into my practice.

So now I’m targeting those three types of specialists. Once I’ve narrowed down those three types of specialists, then I’m gonna figure out, okay, how am I connecting with these people? I find them in my area, but how am I gonna do that outreach and really what is my messaging with them? Because that’s incredibly important.

Part of that targeting into connecting approach is knowing that you’ve targeted the right people. Not only are they close by you, because again, if a patient sees someone somewhere, they’re not going to want to go an hour out of their way. So you wanna be really target. Really close close by if possible, least within easy driving distance.

That’s gonna make it an easier sell for the MD to just say, oh, they’re in the same building. That’s the best one. If you’re in a medical building, you can start right there. Very targeted. Who are the specialists that I wanna connect with? Are they close by? So those are two things in targeting.

Another thing is what we spoke about during that friction piece insurance. Do they have a cash practice? Do they have insurance? Do they have a hybrid practice? If they’re taking insurance, what insurance Are they in? Networking. Are you in network with those same those same insurance companies? That is going to matter.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t overcome that with a great value proposition. It just means that it’s something to be really aware of and it’s an additional cell that you are going to give to this MD in this second portion, which is to connect. So when we’re connecting with these very targeted people, what are we doing?

What are we doing when we connect? If you watched one of my previous shows, we talked about introductions and about your elevator pitch, and the main thing I hope you took out of that was that it’s about articulating value to the person you’re talking to. So when you’re connecting with an md, you know you found the right.

They’re close by probably a network with the same insurance company, or they have a cash practice and you have a cash practice, they can send somebody right down the hall to you, right across the street. But what are you saying to them? You need to address meeting their needs. They are humans, just like we are humans and humans wanna know how is this going to make my life easier?

How is this gonna make things better? I would love to sit here and tell you that it is enough to just be able to hand them a thing of research and say, look, acupuncture works. Tell your patients, but if you are looking for not only targeted referrals into your practice, but referrals that continue to come into your practice, there needs to.

An ROI on the other side for that md and that is the God’s honest truth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve grown my practice in this way, and so if you can be really clear with how you can help them. I’ll give you another example. I work with a lot of surgeons, do a lot of post-surgical care in my practice, and I will research a surgeon prior to approaching.

Not only on their website and what they say that they do, but also on Yelp, on Google Reviews, looking at what are people complaining about? What do they love? What are the pain points for this doctor that I can address? So you bet. If there is a surgeon whose patients are going on saying, Hey, I really loved them.

They were great. The surgery went well, but I wasn’t so happy about the scar tissue. They didn’t do as good of a job as my friend’s surgery. That’s something you wanna speak to. You absolutely wanna talk about how acupuncture can help with scar tissue reduction. You also have to think about just the innate needs and personality of the MD that you’re approaching.

So again, a surgeon, they wanna cut, they wanna do surgery. They don’t wanna hold someone’s hand through the recovery process. Acupuncturists are great at holding someone’s hand through a recovery process. We are all about recovery. All about regulating the body. So if you can speak to that, if you can tell them that you’re gonna meet those needs that, oh, we can start acupuncture the day after surgery.

We can start it immediately. These are the things that it’s known to do. We’re gonna talk in the follow up about good collateral to have. But if you can speak to the things that you can take off their plate that they don’t wanna do. That is gonna pay dividends for you. On the other end of that, cuz it’s one thing to get an MD to refer to you once to just try it out, to say, oh yeah, I know an acupuncturist.

It’s another thing to get constant referrals into your practice from the same MDs and you have to be meeting their needs and getting them really excited about wanting to refer to you. So that’s the connect piece, making sure that you understand their innate needs and that you’re able to address. And then the follow up.

And this is, arguably the most important point because human nature, we’ve been talking about that a lot today. Human nature is out of sight, out of mind. So not only are you gonna give great results to the patients who are referred to you by MDs, but you’re going to have consistent follow up. And what does that follow up look like?

An initial follow up from a conversation can be in the form of collateral. Again, thinking, how do we make this really easy? How do we reduce the friction? Who am I gonna follow up with? Of course you wanna follow up with the doctor that you spoke to, but a lot of times the. Is who is making decisions in that office?

If a patient comes up and asks the staff a question after they see the doctor. The staff is gonna have a book of referrals or they’re gonna have someone at top of mind. And so being really friendly with not only the doctor but the staff as well, is something that will behoove you. So you can do follow-ups.

Talking to the staff. That’s very easy. If you’re in a medical building in the same area, just pop in and say Hi. I like to give one pagers as collateral and. You need to have an electronic option because a lot of people are not liking paper right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t have your old school brochures and that people don’t still like holding onto something.

But again, reducing friction. How do we make this really easy? And so part of making that really easy is that you’re gonna have multiple options so that it makes it the doctor’s choice or the staff’s choice what’s easiest for them. So I have a very. Clean, easy one pager that goes to surgeons and their staff.

And their patients. And then I have an electronic version as well. The electronic’s also great because you can put links in there. It can link to your website, it can link to research if you want. People don’t wanna read a ton of stuff so you can have a great infographic and. For those people who really wanna read a little bit more, they can click on those different links.

You have a lot of flexibility when it comes to those electronic options. It’s also very easy for the staff to pop that into a patient portal, to send it to them or to shoot it to them. Via email if they’re asking for a recommendation. So we always wanna be thinking not necessarily what’s easiest for me or what I like best as a business owner, but what would a prospective patient like the best?

What would the doctor that I’m interfacing with trying to get referrals into my practice, what would they like best? What would make their life easier? And these are also questions that are okay to ask when you’re in that initial conversation. And part of this follow up is being consistent, so I like to set reminders.

When you have a patient who is referred to you should have a system in place to thank the doctor for their referral. They should be signing a release of medical records so that you can send that doctor a report of their care. Not only, become their colleague and be able to liaise with them about this patient, but let them know that not only are you highly competent, but you’re highly collaborative and that helps reduce friction as well.

That is a concern for other healthcare providers that maybe we’re not gonna be super collaborative, maybe we’re gonna try to steal their patient. If you go requesting their medical records and not providing explanations for. , they might think that, oh, why is this doctor requesting these records and trying to take my patient?

You wanna do everything you can to show how collaborative you are and how excited you are to share in the care of that patient. And so with our documentation, you can very easily send that over to a doctor so they’re in the know about what’s going on with their patient as well. And this gets particularly important when you’re dealing with cases like surgery.

Patients who have been diagnosed with cancer you wanna be extra careful, you wanna protect yourself. We’ve done another show on informed consent, so that’s a conversation, you wanna keep going as well, so you wanna do right by the patients who are referred to you and make sure that you have MEChAs mechanisms in place so you can continue that conversation with the doctor and continue the follow up.

So I told you I like efficiency. We kept it nice and short today. Just wanna end by telling you guys, you’ve got this. This is something that I’ve seen other acupuncturists do. I’ve coached other acupuncturists on how to do this. This is solely the way that I built my practice and I know that you can do this too.

And so I just wanna thank AAC again for having me today and you guys have a very exciting. Coming up next week with Poney Chiang, and if you haven’t caught any of his stuff, I’ve done his stuff live. He is absolutely amazing, knows so much, and so you don’t wanna miss that one.