Keys to Your Practice: Leaks in your practice
By Angelo Santin
We all know that chiropractic is the most powerful, time proven, effective way to improve a person’s health naturally.
We all know that chiropractic is the most powerful, time proven, effective way to improve a person’s health naturally. Results speak for themselves, which is why many people choose to pay out of pocket for chiropractic in order to get effective health care.
Most often, all we need to do as chiropractors is to stick to the basics: communicate well, adjust efficiently and let the body take care of itself. This formula often makes for great results and a good experience for the patient, which inspires them to stay for maintenance care and refer. This is the easy and fun part of practice.
What happens, however, when not everything goes according to plan? What if, for some reason, the results are not coming easy or if the patient is uneasy? It is at this critical point that we need to be at our best in order to get our patients through these difficult times and prevent them from walking away from chiropractic.
Following are three common mistakes that lead to patients dropping out of chiropractic care.
The first rule in practice is to do no harm. If you hurt patients with your adjustments they will not be around for long and they will definitely not refer others to chiropractic. Although we may all think we are the best at the art of the adjustment, there is always room for improvement. Work on your technique with colleagues or family members and ask for brutal honest feedback. Try to master a few non-manipulative techniques like Activator, Thompson or Chiropractic Biophysics. If the patients are comfortable with your technique they will be more apt to stay for maintenance care, and will no doubt feel comfortable to refer loved ones.
When I ask a new patient who has seen a chiropractor in the past why they stopped care, I get an array of different answers. I do this in order to ensure the same mistakes will not be made again. The three most common responses to my question are that the adjustments were hurting, an office procedure was bothering them, or they were failing to continue to get results.
The very next question I would ask these patients would be, “Did you discuss this with your chiropractor?” I am astounded that nearly every person said they were too afraid to address it. This led me to conclude that a very important mistake that we are making as chiropractors is having an ego, and in turn, not being open to feedback.
One of the most powerful things you can say at the start of a patient’s care is, “If you’re not comfortable with your adjustments please let me know as there are several different ways we could adjust you that would get similar results.” This lets them know you are open to feedback and that your ego is out the door. If you begin to receive comments from patients please view them positively. Take it as a compliment that they are comfortable enough to have this conversation with you.
Missing signs of discontent
If patients are plateauing for some reason and are not happy with care, they usually start to send you signs along the way. It would be a huge mistake to miss these signs as they lead to opportunities to answer patient concerns. Common signs, like frequent missed appointments, lack of commitment to care or lack of excitement with results, are common and happening every day in front of you. The key is to be fully present in the room allowing you to pick up these signs on some level.
By far, the most effective way you can answer these concerns is by asking questions in order to understand what they think or believe. For example, “How do you think we come up with frequency of care?” or “My exam findings show you are getting better, are you not noticing results?”
By asking questions you leave the door open for them to share their concerns. This is a good time to either address their concerns in a way they are happy with or, if need be, refer them out. Either way, you are putting the patient first, which is a win for everyone and, ultimately, for chiropractic.
These are three often overlooked but critical areas that I know will pay long-term dividends in your practice. Some changes will be hard and some will be easy. The key is making a commitment to change them. There is no other way to get to your dreams and goals without action, therefore I challenge you to consider the action box below and follow the steps.
Remember, when it comes to your practice, work from the inside out.
Angelo Santin, DC, operates a busy subluxation-based 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.