Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

How to get through

Angelo Santin   

Features Opinion

Communicating with patients is a two-way street

Many chiropractors are passionate and inspired individuals who often can’t hold back sharing the chiropractic story. That passion and energy however can sometimes affect how the message comes across. Instead of engaging them, patients end up being talked at or lectured to, which renders the message ineffective.

There are a few keys to ensure your message gets through to your patients so they can live a more productive and healthy life. Let’s take a closer look at this.

Understanding their goals
Most chiropractors make the mistake thinking that people are as excited about chiropractic as they are.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Patients come in with a problem they want a solution to – not to learn about the spine and nervous system. Pain is the most powerful motivator for people seeking chiropractic care. Knowing this, we shouldn’t be shy about talking about their pain. It’s a necessity. We need to meet them where they are.


To take their health to another level, however, we need to take them on a journey in enlightening them about how the pain and subluxation process is holding them back. Essentially, this is getting to know their goals. For some it might be gardening, while others may desire to sleep better. Most people are not aware of the extent to which the subluxation process is affecting their daily routine. If you can draw this out of them in your first few visits you will not only have a better connection with the patient, but you will have a more attentive listener when it is time to share how chiropractic really works.

Relate to them
The best chiropractors are the ones that can empathize with what their patients are going through.  Most of you must have had a health problem at some point in time. Using this to relate to a patient is a powerful way to get your message across. I even urge you to tell your story of how you were able to recover and how much work it took to get better. Sharing our struggles puts us on a level playing field as them. People want to follow and listen to leaders that are more like them and not someone who appears superhuman and whom they can’t relate to. If you personally do not have a story, share one of a loved one close to you who was able to get their health back under chiropractic care.

Personal stories create a bond and improve the communication between doctor and patient, which is necessary for the patient to listen openly.

Welcome open, honest feedback
People will not be open to hearing a message if they themselves do not feel they are being heard. Therefore, we must first listen to what they have to say before we begin to share our message. Getting a patient to openly give you feedback may require you to prompt them to do so. There is a stigma that people are not supposed to tell their health-care practitioner everything that is on their mind. Whether they feel the doctor is in a rush or they don’t want to offend them, patients often hold back from asking what turns out to be really important questions. I like to prompt this feedback at two points in a patient’s care: the report of findings and then at their upcoming re-examinations. I simply say to the patient, “I’m open to feedback through this process, if you have any questions or concerns about your adjustments, my recommendations, and how our office is run please let me know.” People are often taken aback by this, which makes me believe they don’t usually hear that from their health-care practitioner.

Make them comfortable to give you honest feedback and you will begin to hear things that you probably never expected. They will begin to make comments about adjustments, frequency, financial concerns and everything in between. If you put your ego aside and address these concerns you will create a better environment for your patients to safely and openly communicate with you. This also means they will be more likely to hear you out when you begin to share the chiropractic story and its ultimate benefits to their life.

If we want people to truly reach their health potential we need to recognize it’s not going happen overnight. We also need to recognize at some point we need to share how chiropractic can create potential to live a more productive and healthy life. If this is to happen there has to be a dialogue between you and the patient in which both parties are engaged in the decision making process. This will only happen if you’ve been able to understand what their goals are, relate to them, and welcome honest feedback.

If done artfully, this will create a lifelong patient who will stay, get healthier, and refer like crazy. Nail this process and watch your practice grow. Good luck.

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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