How to care for your patients and your bottom-line
By David Leprich
Q: What is the most effective way to achieve balance between patient care and financial health?
Patient care must always come ahead of financial concerns. The Chiropractic Oath states, “I will keep the physical, mental and spiritual needs of the sick as my foremost duty.”
In a perfect world, putting patient concerns first would result in a thriving, profitable practice.
In today’s practice environment, however, that is not enough. It is imperative that we develop tools that provide financial stability while keeping our oath to our patients.
Here are three strategies that have helped me to grow and maintain a healthy practice over the past 38 years.
1.) Build long-term relationships.
Many doctors work hard to attract new patients, but forget about the future. If you can ensure that each patient knows you put their welfare first, they are more likely to trust your judgment and remain in your practice for many years.
This is not accomplished by selling treatment plans or asking people to recruit new patients for you.
Shift your focus to explaining your new patient consultation. Describe your testing procedures. Take time to explain the problem, your solution, and the expected result.
Most importantly, have a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish.
The simple truth is, whether your vision is to help your patients, or pay your bills, they will know. Not every patient will follow your plan, but if you treat them with genuine compassion, you will always be their chiropractor, and they will know who to turn to when they need help.
2.) Get involved in your community.
Your current and potential future patients live and work in your community. Becoming active in a service club or community program is a valuable way to establish yourself as a caring, contributing member of your neighbourhood.
However, if you do this just to attract new patients, your success will be short-lived. Keep the motto of Rotary International in mind, “Service Above Self,” and establish relationships that will be of benefit to the same community you expect will provide you with a livelihood.
The Rotary Club is but one of several worthy organizations active in most communities and can provide an opportunity to meet and work with the business and civic leaders in your area.
When these community organizations understand that you are there to help, they are more likely to contribute to your practice. You are also more likely to meet people who can help you with issues you may be facing in running the business aspect of your practice.
3.) Develop streams of income.
It is possible to develop a thriving, financially rewarding practice without setting foot outside your clinic. However, if your financial health depends only on the cash flow provided by your daily clinic deposits, your practice is at risk. A few slow days or a few slow paying accounts can significantly reduce your cash flow.
While there are management strategies that deal with these issues, I have found it more rewarding to develop alternate income sources. As just one example, many allied health-care professionals are eager to share space in a chiropractic clinic. In addition to paying rent, massage therapists, nutritionists and physiotherapists, for example, can provide valuable services to your patients that can complement what you already do for them. These allied health-care providers can also be a referral source for your practice.
Guiding your patients to good health starts with your compassion, but requires a variety of treatment techniques, tools and advice. Likewise, steering your practice to good financial health starts with your compassion.
Consider long-term relationships, diversifying sources of income and establishing a community presence to be good adjustments to your financial health.
(Editor’s note: Asked and Answered invites chiropractic students and new DCs to send in their most pressing questions about practice and patient care. We then ask experts in the community to provide their best answers. The following question was sent by students from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.)
DR. DAVID LEPRICH is clinic director at Welland Avenue Chiropractic and Massage Therapy, which he established in 1977. He is a past president of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, a current board member of the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation and theatre chiropractor to the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. Dr. Leprich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.