Getting referrals isn’t really any different from the approach used in a general practice, Dr. Lim advises. However, the advantage of having a specialty practice is that you can offer more disease-specific resources and management approaches.
Dr. Samuels also suggests writing review articles (or pursuing original research) about conditions in your niche, and presenting them at professional conferences.
“By speaking at community events and research-oriented conferences, as well as interacting frequently with orthopedic surgeons, I quickly built up my clinical volume and referral base for OA cases,” he says.
The Rewards of Having a Specialty Practice
Tremendous changes are happening in healthcare advancements—that no one had anticipated. In light of this, offering subspecialty care can be quite beneficial. “This allows you to be creative and engaged, and attentive to the newest advances in the literature,” Dr. Arnold says. In addition, “It’s really satisfying to know that you’re delivering the highest quality care.”
Dr. Lim concurs. “A specialty practice affords the opportunity to immerse yourself into a particular condition and become an expert in that area clinically,” he says. Also, “you get to know the patient experience in greater depth, which translates into an enriched clinical expertise. You can also establish stronger relationships with patient advocacy organizations and even industry and governmental organizations as a result.”
For Dr. Samuels, the most rewarding advantage of a specialty practice is having the ability to develop a cohort that can be used for research projects.
Challenges of Having a Niche
Dr. Arnold feels fortunate to work in a region with a lot of healthcare providers. If she was the only rheumatologist in town, having a specialty practice would be a challenge because it would be heart wrenching to turn away patients who may not have anywhere else to go.
When new patients outside of her specialty areas call in now, the receptionist will always say something like, “Dr. Arnold refers patients with this type of condition to this doctor.” Therefore, they don’t feel rejected or unaccepted.
If you decide to have a practice with a specialty niche, your heart must be in it. There are many ways to become highly educated on a topic and many ways to share your expertise. These efforts will surely attract patients and referring physicians, alike.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Pennsylvania.