Keys to Your Practice: Be more efficient
Strategies to achieve more with less By Angelo Santin
By Angelo Santin
In our profession there are many different ways of doing things and, often, many of us will end up achieving similar results. Regardless of how you approach things it is vital to be efficient in everything you do.
Efficiency means achieving maximum productivity with minimal wasted effort or expense. Let’s take a look at some key areas in which efficiency can lead to a busier and more fruitful practice.
There is constant discussion in our profession about which way is the best way to treat a patient. The discussion is healthy and that having a variety of ways to do things can be advantageous. Instead of focusing on what approach is more effective, we should be focused on which approach is more efficient.
How can we accomplish this? We need to explore and learn as many different techniques as possible to add to our tool bag. Apply the appropriate technique and approach to each patient so we get the quickest and best results.
For example, I’ve seen a simple shoulder injury respond to upper cervical care only. If the results are relatively equal, delivering one adjustment to the atlas could be viewed as time and effort saving. I’m not saying that doing muscle work and rehabilitation is bad or that it does not get results. All that I am asking some of you to consider is that there may be a more efficient and sometimes even more effective way of doing things that perhaps you’re overlooking.
Systems and procedures
Often, we tend to get caught up in the clinical aspect of our practice and forget that we need the engine of our business (our systems) to be running efficiently.
Look at your procedures individually and decide if they are either working or not working. If they are not working, ask yourselves as an office if there is another way of doing things or (even better) can we just get rid of the procedure altogether?
Once you have agreed on the procedure, it’s important to practice in unison to the point that all staff is unconsciously competent in them. Simplifying, or even reducing, procedures combined with practice will no doubt let you run the practice with minimal effort.
I am in awe sometimes when observing certain chiropractors’ ability to communicate with their patients and their audiences in a way that requires far less words, much less effort and yet, in my opinion, appears to get better results. There are several tools these chiropractors use in order to be more efficient. They all know communication is not just verbal. It requires the person be fully present, make eye contact, and they know that body posture matters. They also communicate by asking Socratic questions.
This type of communication can be extremely efficient; I know this because I have personally seen it work in my practice. I used to spend so much time talking at patients (instead of to them). I would diligently and passionately try to fill them with information I thought they should know and understand. The problem is that we weren’t really getting anywhere.
When patients miss their appointments, most of us tend to remind the patient of how important it is for them to keep on schedule. This is a normal response and one that sometimes gets repeated often, and over time just gets annoying. A more simple approach may be to simply ask them why they think you schedule their appointments the way that you do. Then just close your mouth and listen. You may need a few follow up questions in order for you to get your point across in this case. What you want is for them to come to their own conclusions.
Once this happens, they either understand the importance of keeping their schedule of care or realize you’re not the right chiropractor for them. Either way, you have really cut down the amount of communication you need to achieve the result you desire.
Efficiency is a hot topic in business. It is so important in some large companies that there are departments solely focused on how to achieve results in the least amount of time and effort.
Why should this not apply to us? If we are able to apply similar efficient strategies, I have no doubt it would lead to a busier practice. As always, the change has to come from you. I challenge you to take that next step.
Action steps Checklist
- Make a commitment to explore and try a new technique in your practice.
- At your next staff meeting, make a commitment to improve efficiency of one procedure.
- Challenge yourself with one patient per day to talk less at them and ask more questions.
Dr. Angelo Santin, DC, operates a busy family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Dr. Santin is also a Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-344-4606.