Taking a paced approach to patient care
Angelo SantinFeatures Clinical Patient Care
Many chiropractors are guilty of trying to do too much too soon. Rushing things can be detrimental to the patient. They can get confused with the amount of information and treatment that comes at them. Unfortunately, this confusion can eventually lead to patients dropping out of care. We need to learn how to hold back a little in order for the doctor-patient relationship to blossom and allow people to experience chiropractic and health on another level.
Let’s take a look at two areas where chiropractors could hold back a little in order to achieve optimal results.
I’m going to offend some here but I feel it a real important point to make. Many chiropractors rush into treating patients on their first visit. There are many clinical reasons why this can be a problem including rushing through decisions about x-ray and exam findings. Taking a day to work on the file allows you to prepare yourself to communicate your findings to the patient. More importantly, rushing into treatment on the first day just reinforces the patient’s belief that they can use chiropractic for a quick fix.
Using an overabundance of ancillary tools early in a patient’s care may be another way chiropractors are rushing through treatment. For example, I often hear patients describe their previous experience with chiropractic, where from day one the chiropractor was performing full spine adjustments, exercises, acupuncture and active release. This amount of intervention thrown at the patient makes my head spin. Imagine, if I feel overwhelmed, how do you think the patient would feel? More importantly how are you going to know what is making the patient better or even worse?
Try to be patient and stick with spinal adjustments, home instructions, and good, old-fashion encouragement. You would be surprised how often they will get fantastic results with this formula and, more importantly, recognize the improvements can be attributed to their chiropractic adjustments.
This is a win-win for you and the patient. They ultimately learn how important chiropractic is for their long-term well-being and you are able to do things more efficiently and ultimately serve more people.
Many make the mistake of talking too much on the initial visit and the report visit. Chiropractors are passionate people and often want to share their knowledge with everyone. This is a positive thing. However, showing some reservations in the pace you divulge the chiropractic story can go a long way. People don’t learn in the first two or three visits, they learn over time. It may take consistent repetition before the patient actually hears it for the first time, so be patient and diligent in regards to the amount of information you are giving them.
For example, talking about subluxation and the supremacy of the nervous system on their report may be a little overwhelming for someone who came in with back pain. Instead, meet them where they are at, and with time, begin to share the chiropractic story to get them thinking differently about their health.
Once you’ve been able to slowly trickle the truth about health and chiropractic, there is no better way to reinforce your message than in your health-care class. I find running one a few weeks to a month after they start care works wonderfully. It helps to put together the puzzle pieces you have shared with them in regards to the chiropractic story. Another benefit of waiting to divulge tons of information is that it gives the patient time to see some results from their care. I can promise you that people are more open to listening once they start to feel better and gain confidence in the care you are providing.
This topic may be a hard concept to really grasp for some, however, I believe when done artfully, holding back a little can prove to be a decent practice builder. It requires some planning on organizing how the information and treatment gets laid out over time. It also requires a great deal of patience and perseverance, at times.
If we feel that people are healthier under long-term chiropractic care then there is really no other choice than to align your practice to support this idea. After all, the work has to come from inside out in the profession – meaning it needs to start with you.
Action steps CHECKLIST
- Stop treating patients on the initial visit
- Stick with the basics up until their first progress exam
- Lay out a plan to share the chiropractic story over time
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-344-4606.
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