Self-Referral: The Case of Wanting but Not Using

Sadly, the issue of self-referral (or what we call direct access in the United States) is one of hip-hip-hoorah. We pat each other on the back and raise our glasses and cheer the monumental professional milestone. And then… then… we’re happy we have professionally reached this highly desirable echalon. We celebrate being allowed in the upper echalons of the medical world.

I ask myself, then what? What’s different in reality? What changes? As I think of various achievements, often times something changes. Doors of opportunity open and opportunities are snagged.

My impression of our professional world was rocked big time when I came upon this white paper focused on an international multi-centered investigation authored by Lesley Holdsworth and Valerie Webster. Their work was supported by the International Private Practitioners Association 2006-2008 which is a subgroup of World Confederation for Physical Therapy.

A few things first before I share a table that made me think. The white paper focused on independent practices. In my opinion, this particular practice setting generally is a bit more nimble at changing processes and will have a high focus on the business perspective of gaining referrals. The flexibility in adapting to change or even preparing for change can be a bit greater in private practice compared to a hospital setting because there is less red tape.

Okay… now for the table that jumped out at me and changed my perspective:

selfreferral table

 I’ll first mention a huge limitation to the study was a very small n value for each country. That being said, the investigators did their best to have a higher n value, they just couldn’t get those who initially committed to participate to actually participate. Focus on the self-referred bars… look at the pattern. Every one of those countries has some level of self-referral. (From left to right: Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Republic of Ireland, South America, United Kingdom, United States of America)

This table saddened me. To me it represents having a talent and putting that talent up on a shelf and not sharing it with the world. It’s time we as individuals in a profession self-reflect and determine why we aren’t unleashing our talent, sharing it with the world. Why the heck aren’t we taking advantage of the self-referral opportunity to help people choose us as soon as they need us?

Are you storing your talent on a shelf or are you unleashing it and doing amazing things with it in your community? If you are storing it, what’s holding you back? If you’ve unleashed your awesomeness, what steps did you take? What advice do you have to help the majority of professionals hoarding their talent to unleash it for the world?

Until next time…