Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Keys to your practice: Are you in tune?

Angelo Santin   

Features Opinion

Three-step approach to enhanced patient care

How many of you are missing exactly how a patient is presenting on their regular visits. I don’t mean the symptoms they are presenting with. I’m referring to where they are at emotionally. Are you fully and totally in tune with the tone in which they are projecting?  

In my early days in practice I was out of touch with this idea. I was so focused on the basics and getting my feet off the ground that I really didn’t pay much attention to it. However, after some mistakes and experience I now realize how important this idea is to help build bonds with patients leading to better retention. I feel I have nailed down a three-step process in understanding tone that I think can be useful when building a relationship with your patients.

Clear your mind
The most important thing you can do before you enter a room is to clear your mind of everything. If you are carrying garbage with you into the room then that is what the patient will experience. I like to cluster book my adjustments so that there is nothing else that I’m doing during that time. This time is sacred to me and to my patients. No computer work, no cellphone, no exams, no chitchat with the staff – just laser focus on the next person you put your hands on. This is the only way you can pick up on where they are at emotionally that day. If done properly, you will be able to intuitively read if they are tired, sad, mad, happy or excited within seconds. This is an important first step because you can’t move on to step two if you don’t do this well.


Match tone
Once you have a sense where someone is at, it’s then critical to present yourself at this same level. You don’t want to be higher or lower than where they are vibrating. An example of this would be if someone appears a little tired and you walk in all chipper.  When this happens there will automatically be a disconnect between you and the patient.  You must match their emotion and their tone in order to create a bond to start the healing process. The patient needs to know and feel that you know where they’re coming from.  To help this process you may need to ask a few questions in order to help crystallize how they are feeling. Questions like, “You are not yourself today are you?” or “You look distracted” or “You seem happy with things,” are all easy and safe questions to see if the patient is willing to share. If they choose not to share then just leave it alone. If they do decide to share, keep your mouth closed and listen. If it is something you can help them with then do so. If you can’t, then just let them know you’re there for them. I can’t tell you how powerful this is in creating a safe place for the patient to be themselves and feel comfortable in the healing process.

Raise the tone
Your next step is to begin the process of bringing up the tone for them and yourself. The patient should leave the office in a better place than when they came in. Often, this only requires you to show up clear, check them, adjust them, and let them know everything went well. That alone combined with the excellent service at your  front desk will often raise front desk will often raise their tone. If they leave your office in a better mood and feeling better physically they will tend to stay longer and refer more people. One other thing you can do to raise the tone is to offer something small in addition to the adjustment. It may be a compliment, it may be encouragement, it may be a tip, or it may be a question to get them thinking about their health.

Are you truly listening on every visit or are you out of tune with where people are? This is the question I want you to ask yourself as soon as you put this article down. If you are honest with yourself, like me you could all use some work in this area. My challenge to you is to apply this three-step protocol and see where it will take you in improving your bond with your patients.  

An improvement in this area will in turn lead to a busier and more fruitful practice. Good luck.

Action Steps

  • Pause before you enter the room and clear your mind before going in
  • Match their tone
  • Add something small to bring their tone up

Note: No skipping steps. You must perform them in order for this to work.

Dr. Angelo Santin, DC, operates a busy subluxation-based family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Santin is also a Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coach. He can be reached at or 807-344-4606.

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