Hi, I’m attorney Jim Mangraviti from SEAK. I’m with attorney Steve Babitsky from SEAK, and we’re here to talk about how to get more IME business. Steve, how much effort should a doctor put in to get a new IME client, and why?
Steve Babitsky: I would say at this point just about whatever it takes. A new IME client for one IME can generate $1000 to $2000. If they get 4 IMEs a month for 20 years from this one new client they can generate almost a million dollars. Whatever it takes to get a new IME client, an expert witness physician should consider investing it and doing it.
Jim Mangraviti: Steve, what’s the number one way for doctors to get IME referrals?
Steve Babitsky: I would say two things. Number one is positive word of mouth. Once you get positive word of mouth the word gets out amongst attorneys, insurers, and self insurers, and they know that you’re a good IME physician and you get business.
The Holy Grail to this kind of work is to get repeat business. It is kind of hard sometimes to get a new client, but once you get that new client, as we just mentioned, that new client could be worth up to a million dollars. Positive word of mouth resulting in repeat business.
Jim Mangraviti: Okay. Can you go through some of the factors that would go into getting repeat business and word of mouth referrals.
Steve Babitsky: Sure. I think that obviously you have to do a good job. The first thing is quick scheduling. Everything with lawyers is an emergency. Doctors and other professionals understand that. You have to have quick scheduling. If somebody calls your office to set up an IME you want to be able to give them an IME exam within a week or less.
Then, turn around the report quickly. The longer the lag is between the time of getting an appointment and the time of getting the report the less chance you have of getting repeat business.
You want to do a thorough exam. The last thing that a client wants to do is to get a report from a physician and note that the exam wasn’t complete and have to return that report for a new exam or for a new report.
Let’s talk about reports. Most of these cases settle before any trials or hearings. What the clients are looking for is a well thought out report, well reasoned, and well written with no mistakes that answers their questions. If you can do that as an IME physician you’re well on your way to getting repeat business.
Again, quick turnaround on the reports. If there’s going to be a long lag between the time of the exam and the report the clients will not like that. They’ll have to waste time following up with you, and very often the lawyer’s under a time deadline. They have to get the report in within a certain amount of time. They don’t want to waste time chasing down the physician for the report.
The last thing I’d mention is about 10% of these cases come up for a deposition at which time the IME physician will have to essentially defend his report at deposition. That IME physician needs to be well prepared for that deposition. I’ve had cases when I was a trial lawyer where the doctor was completely unprepared. I remember cases in which I would walk into a doctor’s office. The doctor would rush in at the last second with a big file. I remember a question he asked was “Which case is this?” That’s not the way to get repeat business.
Jim Mangraviti: What are some of the active techniques that a doctor can use to get the word out about their availability to do IME work?
Steve Babitsky: Sure. Number one is advertise. It’s simple. It’s easy. You get yourself in the SEAK IME Directory or other places, and you let people know that you do this kind of work. Keep in mind there are 850,000 physicians and there are just as many lawyers in the country. The lawyers have to know that you do this type of work or else they’ll never find you.
You want to network. You want to network with attorneys and people that can hire you, with defense attorneys, with insurance companies, with self insurers, go to conferences and so forth. You also want to network with colleagues. If you’re a forensic psychiatrist and you want to get IME business, sometimes your colleague who does this work also may be conflicted out and may be too busy to do this kind of work. You want to be a backup for that kind of person.
Direct outreach, you can advertise in journals, and you can also send out fliers and letters to attorneys. These need to be well thought out. You don’t want to send out junk mail.
Speaking can be a very good active marketing technique if you can give a good lecture to people that can hire you. That’s what I recommend, talk to people that can hire you about a topic that you select. Let’s say you’re an IME physician and you talk about the biggest mistakes IME physicians make, or you talk about a specific type of injury whether it be malingering, or RSD, or something like that. Lawyers will see you, and if you do a good job they will hire you.
The same thing in regard to writing if you write articles. You can write peer review journal articles. Very often that takes a long time to get peer reviewed and published. More effective sometimes is writing in legal journals. The lawyers are the ones that hire you, so why not write articles for lawyers in legal journals about IME techniques.
You also want to look into utilizing IME brokers. A good portion of IME exams are now run through brokers, and the reason is very simple. Some of the large insurance companies have tens of thousands of IMEs, and they don’t want to be in the business of chasing around IME doctors for reports here and there. What they do is they bundle up all their IME exams and they turn them over to an IME company. The IME companies have control over a large portion of the IMEs in the United States. You want to look for and talk to the IME brokers to see if you can get some work from them.
Jim Mangraviti: Steve, how does our company SEAK help doctors who want to succeed as independent medical examiners?
Steve Babitsky: Well, we provide a series of services and products to physicians who want to get better as an IME doctor. We have two courses, Starting and Building an Excellent IME Practice and The IME Masters Course which we run periodically, both two day courses.
In addition to that, we have some of this captured on video, for example the IME skills course is captured on video. We have a course Marketing and Growing Your IME Practice which is also captured on video which we have available. We have a book called Writing and Defending Your IME Report which people can purchase right off our website.
We also work with physicians one on one to help them do better reports, to help them market their practice, and also to help them build an excellent IME practice.
Jim Mangraviti: Do we have any services or directories that help doctors actually get cases as an independent medical examiner?
Steve Babitsky: Yes. We have the National Directory of Independent Medical Examiners which goes out across the United States. People list themselves in the directory and they can actually pick up a substantial amount of work simply and easily by putting their name in the directory.
Jim Mangraviti: Is that directory online as well?
Steve Babitsky: Yes it is.
Jim Mangraviti: And where would that be?
Steve Babitsky: It would be www.imedirectory.com.
Jim Mangraviti: Thank you very much.