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The Neuropsychological Assessment Battery offers the combined strengths of a flexible and fixed neuropsychological battery. And now you can score any of the NAB’s six modules on PARiConnect, PAR’s online assessment platform. Visit parinc.com\nab.
Hey, welcome back to The Testing Psychologist podcast. Today is a little bit different episode. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a live coaching call here on the podcast, but today is that day. I have Dr. Anne Carlew with me today. She’s an early career clinical neuropsychologist with primary [00:01:00] clinical interests in aging and dementia. She’s active in clinical research with recent projects focusing on diagnosing mild cognitive impairment and dementia in diverse populations and cardiovascular risk factors for cognitive impairment and dementia.
Anne and I talk about starting a neuropsychological practice in a rural setting. She is practicing in Jackson, Mississippi. We dig into the nuances of marketing in a rural setting and communicating value for a service that folks don’t know about and don’t really understand. So stay tuned. It was a fantastic call. I really enjoyed talking with Anne, and the hope is that many of you will find some things to take away in your own practice.
Now, if you are looking for a way to connect with other psychologists and you want to do it in a beautiful place with some [00:02:00] sunny weather and plenty of relaxation, I would invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist Retreat this summer, August 9th-13th here in Fort Collins, Colorado. We’re going to have a small group of folks getting together, doing good work on their businesses, on their clinical practice, and building in some accountability to put these ideas into practice. If that sounds interesting to you, you can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/retreat and learn more, and schedule a call with me to see if it’d be a good fit for you.
All right, let’s get to my coaching call with Dr. Anne Carlew. [00:03:00]
Hey Anne, welcome to the podcast.
Dr. Anne: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. I’m always in such admiration of folks who are willing to come on and do these live-ish calls. I know there’s some vulnerability here and putting yourself out there and going through this process with an audience. So, super grateful for you to come on and talk through some things with your practice.
Dr. Anne: I’m grateful to have this opportunity. Like I mentioned to you before, this has been a great resource for me so far.
Dr. Sharp: Thanks. It’s awesome to hear that. It’s easy sometimes to forget that there are real people out there who listen, right?
Dr. Anne: Oh my gosh. I’m one of those real people.
Dr. Sharp: I love it. No, it’s so nice to connect with real folks and get to learn more about your practice and hopefully help out a [00:04:00] little bit. So maybe we could start and just tell folks about your practice, like where are you? What do you do? What’s your practice look like at this point?
Dr. Anne: I am a neuropsychologist primarily focusing on adults at this point. I have just moved to Jackson, Mississippi. It’s the capital of Mississippi but all of Mississippi is fairly rural. I moved from a larger metroplex if you will, but I did grow up here, so I’m familiar with the area, as familiar as you can as when you’re growing up.
Right now I do work in a hospital as a neuropsychologist within an inpatient unit but working on building a private practice [00:05:00] on the side for adults. My main area of interest and expertise is really in older adults who have some neurological or psychiatric disorder impacting cognition. But for the private practice state, starting broader, as broad as I guess you can get with neuropsychology, just focusing on the adult population in general.
Dr. Sharp: Sure, that sounds good. And what stage are you at with your practice right now? Have you seen patients in private practice yet, or is that coming or what?
Dr. Anne: Yes, I have seen one patient, one scheduled. Right now my setup is, I’m very much in the building stage, but I have technically office space working with [00:06:00] one other psychologist in the area, more of an autonomous role but this person is allowing me to use their space, and their materials for a certain percentage cut.
Although I’m still very much autonomous, I have my own LLC that I’ve formed. I’ve called it Generations Neuropsychology, getting at that older generation that I enjoy working with. Right now, I’m trying to build up the, I feel like I’m trying to do everything at once, so maybe this is where some help could, it would be appreciated.
I’ve gotten the LLC formed, tried to get all the legal stuff squared away, and I am working on refining my intake process, my paperwork, getting all the little applications and things that I need straightened [00:07:00] out, which had to happen pretty quickly. All the HIPAA-compliant email, the HIPAA-compliant website, all of that stuff has pretty much been squared away but could probably use some streamlining.
And then I guess, where I’m focused on most right now is building the referral network and trying to connect it myself, known out there, figuring out how to market myself and who to market myself to, and really also just building awareness of what neuropsychology is in this area and Mississippi in general.
Dr. Sharp: Right. We talked about that in our pre-recording call. Just this idea that health literacy in general is relatively low [00:08:00] in Mississippi compared to some other parts of the country and that presents a unique challenge for marketing yourself.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, absolutely. I think I shared with you that to my knowledge, there are fewer than 10 people who would call themselves neuropsychologists in the entire state. And coming from where I was before in a larger city I worked, I had 10 neuropsychologists colleagues in my one hospital system. So that’s not very many to cover the whole state. And then you add on to that, is that most of them are involved in doing more forensic, medical, legal type work, but there’s really not that many that are serving the general population.
And then most of the rest of them are either in a hospital setting like I am now that are captive [00:09:00] to that particular hospital. So what I’ve run into is that potential referral sources, the referral sources that I’m used to going to, like neurologists, psychiatrists, geriatricians, even primary care providers are so used to not having psychology and neuropsychology. I’m finding that I need to really explain myself, what I do, who I am, why it’s needed, and the value that I can add to a patient’s life.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I think that’s the goal of any marketing that we do. That’s the hurdle we have to jump over is somehow proving value to our audience but for you, you have this extra hoop again, of the lower health literacy and [00:10:00] just folks not even being aware of this option and what it is in the first place.
Dr. Anne: Right.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. It’s a pretty heavy extra layer, I think, to consider.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, and so I guess I’ll add on to that, that even just getting in to see a primary care doctor or a neurologist or a geriatrician, there are very few of those providers. There are just not very many physicians here per capita, I guess you would say. I think the state in general struggles with reaching some of the people that are in the more rural areas. This Jackson has the only academic medical center in the state. And when you get out from Central Mississippi to care, the availability is clear. Just it’s lower and lower.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, sure. So tell me what you’ve tried so far, and [00:11:00] I’m going to really focus on the marketing side of things here. l hear some concern about the nuts and bolts of setting up a practice and picking your EHR and getting your paperwork. I’m going to put all that aside just maybe for the call, just because I feel like your unique situation is this rural environment and how do you market to folks when they don’t even know what you do or if it’s worth it and those kinds of questions.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Sharp: So I’m curious what you’ve done so far, anything you would say falls under the marketing umbrella?
Dr. Anne: The main thing that I’ve done is send, well, I guess I would say I have sent faxes. I was going to say letters, but no, I’ve been sending faxes which I’ve never had to send a fax before.
Dr. Sharp: It’s amazing to me that faxing is even still a thing that exists.
Dr Anne: Right.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, [00:12:00] it’s so mild.
Dr: Anne: I don’t understand it but that is the only way that I’ve been able to reliably find contact information. And so like I said, what I’m used to getting referrals from are physicians and usually neurologists and psychiatrists and a smattering of primary care physicians.
My approach so far has been to figure out who is in the area and make a list and send out a letter via fax to their office which has not been very successful, I would say. I’ve had one person even try to reach back out to me. The letter just says who I am and what I provide and has my contact information and my website.[00:13:00] Dr. Sharp: Got you. Okay. That sounds good. Solid base strategy for anything, connecting with physicians is always nice if you can make that work, right?
Dr. Anne: Right. I don’t think that the faxes are actually getting to the physicians themselves. I think they’re getting to their office staff and then beyond that, I’m not sure what happens to them.
Dr. Sharp: Right. Yeah, the black hole of physician offices. I hear you. Okay, that sounds good. So you sent some letters. What do the letters say?
Dr. Anne: They introduce myself: I say that I’m a clinical neuropsychologist. And then I talk a little bit about the types of patients that I see and how I can be [00:14:00] helpful. I talk about the experience for the patient, on the patient end, this is what they experience, and then I talk about the report that I would write and the turnaround. I add in that my insurance/not taking insurance situation and then how they can contact me.
Dr. Sharp: Okay. That sounds good. It sounds like all the key elements are there. I love this idea. I think it’s worth it to continue to try to reach out to physicians. Maybe we spend a little bit of time on that and then we can pivot to two other things. With this letter, my question is, is it super [00:15:00] clear how you can help the physician and the patient in this situation?
Dr. Anne: I think it is. I’m pulling it up right now so I have it in front of me because it’s been a little bit since I wrote it. I think it’s clear, but then it’s hard to know exactly what physicians in this area know about the services that I provide. So the line I’m trying to walk is being concise because I know I’m writing to a busy physician but also being informative which is where I feel like getting in front of people is a lot better than sending out a letter.
Dr. Sharp: For sure. So let’s take a little detour real quick, just about that. Do you have any capacity to get in front of, say, [00:16:00] the referral coordinator for these offices versus the physicians? I’ll often find that the referral coordinators are the ones who are making the referrals. They’re the last stop for the patient before they walk out of that office and they have actually their finger on the pulse of the clinicians in the community a little bit better than the physicians themselves.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, I think maybe even on a basic level, I don’t even know how to know who the referral coordinator is.
Dr. Sharp: Cool. That’s a great question. I’m glad you asked it. I think other people are probably thinking the same.
Dr. Anne: I think it’s not usually on the website.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. Yeah, it’s true. So some practices, it might be more obvious where they actually call them a referral coordinator. Sometimes they’re not on there at all, and you maybe have to call and ask. And then sometimes they’re hidden behind other titles, like office manager [00:17:00] or physician assistant, that’s an actual position but you know what I mean, like medical assistant or something like that.
If in doubt, like if it’s not clear on the website, a call to the office never hurts because you’re going to get the admin staff and you can say like, hey, do you have a referral coordinator? Is that person around? And at the least, you’ll get a voicemail and you can leave a voicemail and say, hey, I’d love to chat with you about this service. Could we meet up and see if you can get in?
And then referral coordinators too are often the ones that are able to facilitate an in-person meeting with the physicians, either through like a lunch and learn or some kind of presentation. A lot of offices will do a monthly didactic thing or networking meeting, something [00:18:00] like that.
Dr. Anne: Okay, now I have a question about that. Do you find that it differs if you are going for maybe a large hospital system clinic, like a neurology clinic within, I don’t know, like the Baptist hospital system is one that comes to mind here versus there’s smaller private clinics like Mississippi Psychiatric Partners or whatever, I just made that up. That seems a lot more doable in terms of getting in touch with somebody that actually has their finger on the pulse of which what’s happening with those physicians versus maybe you might get an access center if you call a large hospital system.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I’ve seen different situations. I think you’re probably right. In bigger hospital systems, it’s going to be harder to connect with the right person. I’ve [00:19:00] seen relatively large practices with 30, 40, 50 practitioners who have referral coordinators that are very on top of it and very willing to meet with community resources just to be able to help their staff, help their physicians.
But I think if you’re going to force me to create a rule here, hospital systems are probably tougher to break into and find the right person. But if you have a specific clinic in mind, like the neurology department, they would hopefully have their own admin team and referral person that helps them out. If they don’t have a dedicated referral coordinator, the admin team is going to be the place to connect, I think over the physicians, at least at first.[00:20:00] Dr. Anne: Yeah. Even just the suggestion to call is really helpful. In my head I’m like, I could call, but then I’m like, is that something people do? I don’t know, like a phone call. Numbers I find online?
Dr. Sharp: Right. Got to please, just text them or email them somehow.
Dr. Anne: Exactly. I really want an email address.
Dr. Sharp: I’m totally with you. It seems so bizarre to actually pick up the phone and call anybody at this point but I think it actually goes a long way.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, thank you. I just needed somebody’s permission.
Dr. Sharp: You can totally call. It’s funny, I’m going to detour for a second, but I feel like I’ve come back. It’s like how people are getting rid of their smartphones and going back to flip phones just to protest the system or whatever. I’ve been trying to make more phone calls deliberately just to bring it back. To [00:21:00] go back to old school, whatever. And it works really well. It’s nice to actually talk to people and hammer out whatever it is in two or three minutes instead of sending 15 emails back and forth.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I think calling is coming back. I’m naming it.
Dr. Anne: We’ll bring it back.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, bring it back. Bring back phone calls.
Let’s see. So that avenue just to get into these medical practices might be something to check out. The theme, I think, with a lot of those marketing, I always think about who are you actually speaking to and what problem are you solving for them.
I would also be super deliberate, like if you get in front of them or are sending information to them, really be clear what pain point you are addressing for these physicians. So maybe the [00:22:0] pain point is they feel helpless when they have a decompensating adult in their office and don’t know what to do or maybe the pain point is there are no resources in the community and they feel like a bad physician because they can’t help the family or something along those lines. I’m making these things up. But really thinking about what problem, what pain point are you solving for them?
That’s what you speak to. And you keep it super straightforward, direct, and then tell them exactly how they could utilize your services. In my mind it’s something like, it’d be a little longer than this, but it’d be something along the lines of like, are you tired of feeling helpless with your patients who have dementia? [00:23:00] I can figure out what’s happening in their brain and point them in the right direction and take the pressure off of you to do everything for them. And then it’s just like, call me now. That sounds like a hotline but you get what I’m saying, like, schedule now or here’s how to make a referral and it’s a very clear call to action.
I pull a lot of this from that StoryBrand Framework from Donald Miller. He wrote this book, Building Your StoryBrand. It’s all reflective of that approach. It’s just identify the pain point, position yourself to solve that pain point and then give them a very clear method of acting.
Dr. Anne: Right. Okay. I think so in terms of an action item for me, I love action items. I think that would require me to really [00:24:00] personalize any letter I send out a little bit more, like maybe one for neurologist, one for psychiatrists because the pain points are going to be different, but that’s a good point.
Dr. Sharp: I totally agree. A little more work, but I think totally worth it. You want them to get that letter and be like, oh my gosh, yes. She totally understands my dilemma right now. I hate sitting in front of a patient and having to disappoint them and say, I don’t know what to do or let’s wait and see or whatever it may be. You want them to resonate with that and say, oh, thank goodness there’s somebody who can help me with this.
Dr. Anne: Right.
Dr. Sharp: So that’s the physician side. I think that we talked about how you have two target audiences. One is the physician, clinician, practitioner side and solving those pain points. And then you maybe also have this other target audience of people out in the [00:25:00] community, like this sandwich generation of 40, I don’t know, 35 to 55-year-old individuals who have aging parents and they’re confused, they’re scared. They know something’s different with mom but they don’t know what, all those kinds of emotions going on and those are the pain points for that audience. So you’re speaking to a different set of problems there.
Dr. Anne: Right. And that’s something I’ve never had to do or have done is market myself to non-clinicians, like directly to patients or somebody that might want to bring their patient in to me. So I don’t even know where to start with that. One thing that I have done is I’m building relationships with [00:26:00] like the Alzheimer’s Association here and offering up myself as a volunteer speaker on different things, not so I can market my practice but trying to get my name out there.
So that’s the only thing I have really thought of doing in terms of getting in front of the general public, just so people can even know what neuropsychology is, how neuropsychology could help. And really more broadly speaking, I guess more, again, like a population that hasn’t count as much access to health literacy and things like that, even just educational, what dementia is and or what cognition and cognitive impairment is, I would say the kind of thought within, at least, my setting and in Mississippi is that dementia is like a normal part of aging. And so [00:27:00] spelling those myths, things like that. But that seems like more of a long game.
Dr. Sharp: I think you’re right. Let’s unpack a lot. There’s so many good ideas in everything you just said. The shortcut, I think, to what would we call that direct-to-patient marketing maybe is Google Ads. If you want to go down that route, you could easily set up a Google Ads campaign targeting individuals of any number of demographics, income level, location, all that stuff, and just have it start popping up depending on when people are Google searching.
Dr. Anne: Okay. I did not expect you to say Google Ads.
Dr. Sharp: Okay. I’m glad I have something surprising.
Dr. Anne: I do not know how that works. [00:28:00] I guess I just find that people don’t really know what neuropsychology is. And so I can’t imagine a lot of people googling it.
Dr. Sharp: Oh, yeah. We’re not talking about googling neuropsychology. Nobody’s googling neuropsychologist, Jackson, Mississippi. Probably, maybe a few people.
Dr. Anne: I google it just to see who’s in the area. That’s how I know how many share around.
Dr. Sharp: Right. Yes. So that’s where like a good Google Ads person would set up your ads to where it’s capturing folks who are googling why is my mom confused? Or why is my mom in incontinent right now? Or like dad suddenly fell down out of nowhere. They would help you target those search terms and deliver the ads to the folks who are searching the problems that they’re having versus neuropsychologists, Jackson, Mississippi.
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Let’s get back to the podcast.
Dr. Anne: See how concrete my thought processes are here.
Dr. Sharp: No, that’s totally normal. I think it just gets at that question of how we have assumptions about what our clients are looking for and what they call it and that’s not always true, right?
Dr. Anne: Right.
Dr. Sharp: I built our website way back when and used all this [00:30:00] language that I thought was capturing what people were searching for. And then a few years later when I actually dug into it, realized that like they were calling testing something totally different and they don’t really use the term psychotherapy. Nobody says that. It’s like counseling or whatever. So, yeah, it’s a common misconception in our work.
Dr. Anne: Is this in the same ballpark of SEO?
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, absolutely. So using the copy on your website to really speak to your ideal audience.
Dr. Anne: Okay.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, we could definitely go down the website rabbit hole. I might put that to the side for a second and just make a broad statement about just making sure your website copy speaks to your ideal audience so when people get there, that they see [00:31:00] themselves in that content. They can see right away, like, oh, this person, Anne understands exactly what I’m going through and she can help. That’s what your website should communicate.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, with my website, it’s pretty bare bones, but I have struggled a little bit with, am I gearing it towards those people or am I gearing it towards my referrals first?
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I tend to think of websites as gearing toward the public versus practitioners. Practitioners will come to your website. They still will need to know, hey, Anne is a neuropsychologist, she can do this work. She can help these patients, but ultimately, I think the website is geared more toward the public [00:32:00] and potential patients who might stumble across it.
Dr. Anne: That’s helpful.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah.
Dr. Anne: Thank you.
Dr. Sharp: So, like I said, Google Ads would be a shortcut, I think, to the direct-to-patient marketing. Full disclosure, it’s going to cost you money. Any Google Ads campaign is probably going to run anywhere from $250 to $600 a month, let’s say. So you pay for the ads that you’re running and you pay for the administration, whoever sets them up for you, the work to do that.
So people balk at that number sometimes, and that’s where we can have a quick conversation around return on investment. So if you’re spending say $500 a month to get three or four referrals that are each going to bring in [00:33:00] $2,000 a month, that’s pretty good return on investment. It is truly a case of spending money to make money.
Dr. Anne: I don’t know, I don’t want to derail, so you can swap this question down if you want to, but for a testing psychologist, what are your thoughts on things like Psychology Today or those therapist registries where people go? I send patients to that all the time that need therapy but I do not know if it would be as lucrative or the return on investment would be as good for a testing psychologist.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I think Psychology Today is honestly a no-brainer. You just do it because it’s $30 a month and that’s nothing. So if you get one referral from Psychology Today, it pays for itself for five years. I think it’s a no-brainer and it just gives you more SEO web presence [00:34:00] juice because they have pretty good web presence and SEO at that site. I don’t know about the others. The other directories are hit or miss, but I think Psychology Today is worth it.
Dr. Anne: Okay. Great. That’s good to know.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. And then thinking about other ways to connect directly with your patients or potential patients, I think you use the term relationships at some point, and that was the one thing I wrote that down in big, bold letters after our initial call. Just being in a mostly rural environment and I grew up in the South as well and have some sense of this kind of thing. Relationships drive everything.
Dr. Anne: Yes, 100%.
Dr. Sharp: And so what this looks like for [00:35:00] you maybe is well, everyone that you meet is a potential referral source. So when you’re at the grocery store, when you’re at cocktail parties, when you’re at the playground if you have kids, any of those places, finding a tactful way to share what you do and how you do it and how it can help folks. And I don’t like it. I don’t want to frame it in a manipulative context by any means.
I think this is a layer of living in a smaller town that you have to be even more aware of what you say when you’re connecting with folks. Maybe you do things with that in the back of your mind, like, hey, this is not just a social event, this is a business building thing because I’m [00:36:00] building relationships that will help build my practice.
Dr. Anne: Right.
Dr. Sharp: If you grew up in that area, it’s absolutely like leveraging any relationships you already have, reconnecting with folks. I love the question, who else should I get together with? Who else do I need to know? Who else should I hear from? That sort of thing and putting a lot of energy into just building these relationships.
Dr. Anne: So when you’re talking about relationships, I remember on the podcast, it’s probably been forever ago for you now but three months ago when I listened to one of the earlier you were talking about maybe you were at the park with your son and ended up with a potential referral source. Are you thinking like building relationships, just person to person in general, who then they might want to send their [00:37:00] parents to me or are you thinking like, person to person and then they know the director of neurology at whatever hospital or both?
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, both. In a smallish town, it could be all of those things. It’s just connecting with folks and making sure they know that you, Anne, help older adults whose brains are going a little wacky. That’s what people need to know. And then when their hairdresser says that their mom has dementia, then they’re going to be like, oh, I know somebody who can help with that. It’s that kind of thing. So that’s a little bit more of a long game for sure.
Dr. Anne: Yeah. So I guess on that note, the other thing I’ve done is I’ve already been asked, I didn’t have to even present myself for this because of people I knew before, but I am scheduled to speak at several [00:38:00] caregiver support groups, which of course, at that point it’s like we already know what’s going on in their diagnosis. I don’t know how helpful I can be, but I think it’s still at least a way to get my name out there as being in realm.
Dr. Sharp: 100%. Those caregivers are going to have siblings. Those caregivers are going to have maybe adult children of their own. Those caregivers are going to have parents of their own. I think anything you can do to get in front of folks and build those relationships and get your name out there is going to go a long way, especially if there aren’t many other folks in town who do that.
I don’t typically recommend that folks put a lot of time into free talks and workshops and stuff like that, but in your case, I think that there’s a lot of value there, honestly. Just talking at the senior [00:39:00] center, talking at these caregiver things, talking any venue that might have folks who would benefit from what you have to say, I would say go for it, if that’s in your personality. As long as that’s not so draining that you’re going to burn out in three months.
Dr. Anne: Right. I think it’ll definitely be a balance. I also see it as a way to give back when, I’m not sure I’m going to take insurance or not at this point, which is, I know a whole another conversation but I see it as my good psychologist duty.
Dr. Sharp: Sure, I like that. Those are just a few ideas of the direct-to-patient question. Integrating in the [00:40:00] community just as you continue to live there, I think, it was going to go a long way. Maybe don’t, I don’t know, I’m like projecting. I’m an introvert but I can fake it. So I know for myself it’s like, okay, am I going to turn down this invitation or am I going to go? And sometimes it’s choosing to go even if you might…
Dr. Anne: Very salient. There is some networking event tonight that is in my little town that’s outside of the city. I was wondering if it was even worth it for me to go, it’s probably a lot of sandwich-generation folks in that networking event, if nothing else there.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I think anything to connect with people is probably going to be helpful.
Dr. Anne: Just the general population.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. You’re even small town Chamber of Commerce that [00:41:00] kind of thing. Like any of those business clubs or business, if there’s some towns have business networking meetings. There are different groups that might meet so look into that stuff. I’m totally playing on just Southern experience and stereotypes that it is like a club, like country club stuff. That opens a whole Pandora’s box of privilege and all that. And if the end goal is to help folks, that’s something to consider.
Dr. Anne: Yeah. You’re totally right and you nailed it in a way that I think only somebody that grew up in a Southern culture could. There’s just a level of trust that’s assumed. Even if you have met somebody that is Joey’s cousin or whatever, as long as there’s some relationship that can be defined, people will trust you a [00:42:00] thousand person more than somebody that’s just got their picture on the internet.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. I know we spent a lot of time on that, but like I said, I wrote relationships in bold after our first call. It’s like there’s a lot there I think could work for you.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, absolutely. That’s helpful. It’s helpful to note it’s not just me that observes that and it’s encouraging.
Dr. Sharp: You’ve got the physician side of things and the faxing and the referral coordinator and the connecting with clinics. And then you’ve got your direct-to-patient side and you talked about the Google Ads and then this warm networking relationship building, those sorts of things. That covers a lot of the marketing bases, I think.
And you’re in a nice [00:43:00] position, I think. You have a job. You have the luxury to build this up on the side and have this safety net of your job. So you can take a little time and my guess is that it’s going to grow quickly once the word gets out and you see two folks and the ball starts to roll. Which reminds me, I wanted to ask where have your two referrals come from so far.
Dr. Anne: One has been from a worker’s compensation case manager. And just as an aside because this happened this morning, they tried to reimburse me for less than 10% of what I billed for. So that’s discouraging. Still trying to figure that out. The other one has come from a person in the area who knows [00:44:00] who I am from a previous case. He just happened to have… We had a mutual patient from before.
Dr. Sharp: Okay. That’s great. In the beginning, when you have the time to do this, I love to just put energy into those referral sources: one, do a great job on the evaluation, you’re going to do that, but if there’s anything like extra that you could really knock it out of the park, just do that but then put some energy into the referral sources too. So thanking the psychiatrist, send a handwritten note or whatever, if you like this person, maybe go to coffee with them and just talk about your practices, anything to nurture these relationships.
Dr. Anne: Yeah. I think the limiting factor there that you’ve helped me with is actually getting [00:45:00] phone numbers or email addresses, personal contact with those people. I think you’re right, once the relationship starts to grow, that’s going to help a lot.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I really do look at it as any number of metaphors, snowballs going down the hill, seeds being planted and growing. Any of that kind of stuff. It takes a little time, but once it gets going…
Dr. Anne: Yeah, I think I don’t have a, no, I can’t find the word, but I’m not sure how long it’s supposed to take. I’ve only been at it for about two and a half months now. So it seems like it’s taking a really long time but also two and a half months is not really that long. So I don’t know. It’s normal, it’s not like send faxes and get crickets, that kind of thing.
Dr. Sharp: For sure. I always tell folks, ballpark 6 to 12 months. I’ve [00:46:00] seen cases, I’ve told this story before, I can’t remember on the podcast or just in my groups or what, but I was working with one consulting client and we worked together, we did the full six-month consulting package. At the end, it was very discouraging. This person was not getting referrals, nothing was working. I was consulting with my fellow consultants, what am I doing wrong? What do you think of this case? How can I do this differently?
And we ended and they were very gracious and we said we’d be in touch. And then maybe six months down the road, they reached back out and said all of those referrals, all of those people I met with just started sending referrals out of the blue. And now I’m too busy. How do I hire an assistant? What do I do now? And it just all of a sudden hit after [00:47:00] another six months or so. So you never know. Always ballpark 6 to 12 months.
Dr. Anne: Okay. That’s helpful to know even just what to expect.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. We’ve talked a lot. I think really tackled some of those marketing stuff. Anything else? Any loose ends before we start to wrap up the call?
Dr. Anne: I guess here’s a random question. Do you just keep business cards on you all the time? Just flip one out whenever?
Dr. Sharp: So you have unwittingly just pulled out a soapbox and invited me to stand on it? No. I don’t keep business cards around. I hate business cards. I throw business cards away when people give them to me. [00:48:00] I don’t keep business cards anywhere. So this is personal. I’m totally projecting that on everyone else.
Dr. Anne: Sure. Yeah. I can see coming across as disingenuous once you’ve made this relationship or connection or something like that.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I don’t love them but what I have done is there’s two options. I like the digital option. You can do a QR code business card and just keep it on your phone so that if somebody does want your contact information, you can just say like, hey, scan this QR code, and it automatically goes to their contact.
And then there’s another option. There are actually a few different products that do this, but there’s one called a dot card, and it’s just a little tiny circular almost flat disc that, I guess you program it. I feel like an old person now, but you [00:49:00] put your contact information on it and you stick it to the back of your phone and it’s flat so it doesn’t get in the way. And then if someone wants to get your contact information, you just tap it or something and it sends it to their phone wirelessly somehow. So there are a few options for digital cards. That’s the direction that I’ve taken.
Dr. Anne: Yeah, I think that’s great because you’re right, I definitely throw away business cards anytime I get them or lose them.
Dr. Sharp: I know, I just don’t know what to do with them. I don’t have a Rolodex. I don’t have a place. I don’t keep them anywhere so they just clutter up the desk.
Dr. Anne: That’s a great suggestion. Thank you.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Some people love them, but not me.
Dr. Anne: It was really exciting when they came in. I felt very official. I had some for myself.
Dr. Sharp: Yes. It legitimizes your business.
Dr. Anne: Exactly.
Dr. Sharp: I still keep them on the desk and in my [00:50:00] office if folks want them, they can take them, but if I’m out and about it, networking things, it’s all digital.
Dr. Anne: I do like to stay a little bit analog because I do service an older clientele and if I was like, hey, use this QR code, they might not know what that is.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. I think that’s fair. Keep some in your office. That totally makes sense. This has been a lot of fun for me just to talk to someone from the South and really think through what it would be like to launch a practice in an area like that. I hope that it’s been helpful.
Dr. Anne: Yeah. It’s been really helpful. Thank you. You mentioned putting up guide rails and bumpers as if we were bowling. I really do feel much more directed and [00:51:00] I have some action items, things that I can act on, so thank you so much.
Dr. Sharp: Cool. Well, you can always reach out if you want to talk some more and tweak some of these things. I’m really curious to hear how things go for you. It seems like there’s so much potential.
Dr. Anne: Hopefully, I can send you a success story this time next year.
Dr. Sharp: I would love it. Yes. You can come back on and talk about how everything went so well. You overcame some adversity, but then it turned out great and now you’re…
Thanks for coming on and again, just putting yourself out there and talking through some of these things. I really appreciate it. It was great to talk.
Dr. Anne: I appreciate your help and everything you’ve done for all the private practice psychologists out there.
Dr. Sharp: Thanks. Take care, Anne.
Dr. Anne: You too.
Dr. Sharp: All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your [00:52:00] life.
Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.
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