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Chiropractic Health Assistant Education: September 2010


September 8, 2010
By Brandi MacDonald

As always, the summer of 2010 has come and gone much too fast. In
chiropractic offices all over Canada, holidays and a general “winding
down” period occurred as patients, staff and doctors planned their
holiday getaways  to lake country, camping, etc. Patients, as well as
our practices, “fell off” their regular routines.

In my last article, I wrote on recall systems. The next logical step is re-activation, which is what I will focus on in this issue.

As always, the summer of 2010 has come and gone much too fast. In chiropractic offices all over Canada, holidays and a general “winding down” period occurred as patients, staff and doctors planned their holiday getaways  to lake country, camping, etc. Patients, as well as our practices, “fell off” their regular routines. Now, September presents an opportunity for us in our practices to re-group and re-evaluate the last quarter of our year in our business, and also, to support patients by helping them get back into their care routines. A re-activation system should be considered, and September is a great time to re-activate your patients whose lives have gotten in the way of their chiropractic care.

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THE RE-ACTIVATION ROUTINE
Re-activation systems are carried out anywhere from two to four times per year, and are designed to remind patients that their chiropractic care is important, and your practice cares about them. Consistent re-activation systems keep patients on their treatment plans, and are very easy to implement. Your chiropractic health assistants (CHAs) can run a re-activation system very easily and almost independently.

The first step is to go through the patients who haven’t been in since the last time you ran a re-activation. Go through the list and mark off patients who you know have moved, changed chiropractors, or demonstrate any other reason for which you would not send a letter to them. Everyone else is then eligible to be mailed a letter.

Then next step is a well-written letter inviting patients back into care. This is the most critical part of this procedure. Re-activation letters must be written in such a way that patients want to return to your office. Therefore, the letter should be about the patient, and why they would benefit in coming back to your office – the letter should not be about you!

Often, the re-activation letter only contains information about the practice, and says nothing about the patient. There is no intrinsic value to this and, therefore, it will not provide any motivation for the patient to come back. The letter should also extend an offer of some kind to the patient. Offers can vary depending on practices, but the idea of an offer is to introduce new things that your practice may have that the patient hasn’t experienced. Timeline the offer to lend urgency to the letter – people are more likely to take advantage of offers that have some sort of time limit to them.

Once the letter has been sent out, develop a tracking mechanism for the front desk to know which re-activated patients return to you. This not only allows the office to track the success of the procedure, but also allows for the staff to ensure that they book extra time for these patients when they come back. Whether the patients are re-evaluated at this point, or are simply given some extra time in the office to re-establish their old routines, a re-connection should occur for these patients at this time. Ask yourself questions like, “Why did they stop care? What are their health goals now? What can I do to answer any questions they may have now?” The idea of the extra time on the first re-activated appointment is to show genuine concern as to what questions, concerns or new circumstances the patient may now have.

DETERMINING THE SUCCESS OF YOUR RE-ACTIVATION SYSTEM
I often get emails from practices that state re-activation systems don’t work for them. I want to explain how to determine a successful re-activation system. Consider the cost of the mail-out and the cost value of the time it takes to do it – which is generally quite nominal – and determine your case average per patient. If one patient returns, the investment is generally worth it, from a pure business perspective. From a human perspective, one cannot place a value on the returnee to your office, or on the benefit that that returnee will receive from your care.

Re-activation systems are designed for patients who truly want to return to care, but whose lives have gotten in the way. They are not for patients who have made a decision to try something else or not return to your particular office. They are also designed because we genuinely care about our patients and what happens to them. We want this intention to be clear to the patient, but also to our staff who run the system.

Re-connect and re-energize in your last quarter of 2010! •


Brandi MacDonald manages a multi-doctor, high-volume clinic in Edmonton. She is the owner of True Concepts, which consults with chiropractors all over North America regarding staffing. She also is an international speaker for chiropractic assistants. She can be reached at info@brandimacdonald.com.


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