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September 2001

How to Make Practice Prosperity a Reality
By Julie Thomas, CA

When most chiropractors venture out into the profession, they have two main goals: to help as many patients as possible, and in turn, make a nice living.

The key is to avoid falling into “survival mode” and to aim for “prosperity mode.” In order to take your practice into prosperity mode, you and your staff need to be ready to handle it.

Some of the steps you can take include:
• Be prepared. Have at least 10 new patient files ready to go at all times. Each file should be pre-numbered (if you assign your patients a number), it should include any paperwork that needs to be filled out, a blank chart/travel card, a blank X-ray card, and any insurance forms that you use. These files should be easy to access so when a new patient arrives, you only have to pull one file, and everything you need is inside.

• Make sure your staff members are trained and scripted to handle new patient phone calls. This is the first contact a patient has with your office. If patients sense you are organized and confident, they will feel confident that they chose the right office. The person answering your phone should be willing to go the extra mile to ensure patients have a positive experience.

• It is also important to be ready to serve more patients. Catch up on any files that need to be completed and get organized. If you are behind on your current workload, you are not ready to take on anything else that is new, including new patients.

• If you ask for them, they will come. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Make a point to ask patients for referrals when you have them on your table or during a re-evaluation. Just don’t be too pushy. Be compassionate, and they will feel more compelled to send you their friends and family. Also, set up a consistent referral program within your office. Hand out coupons for exams and X-rays weekly (to be passed on to potential new patients), or offer new patients the opportunity to bring in family members for an exam and X-rays at your expense within the first five days of their care. Give patients incentives to send people to you.

Create Value for Your Services
Under most circumstances, the main factor in low collections is ineffective communication. You need to be firm about your polices and create value for your services.

These guidelines should help:

• Determine what your fees are and stick with them. Do not negotiate. You need to create value, believe in that value, and not budge. Do you think if a person were diagnosed with cancer and needed extensive treatment, that person would bargain for the needed care? This is healthcare, not car sales. Don’t give your care away.

• The only person who should be discussing finances in your office is a trained CA, not the doctor. You should be focusing on adjusting and getting your patients to a higher state of health. Develop a financial script according to your collection procedures, and train your staff. If your staff is scripted, the sometimes uncomfortable situation of asking for money is minimal. Practice often with your staff, so you feel comfortable with putting the responsibility of financials into somebody else’s hands.

Act “As If”
Most doctors set long-term goals when they began practicing. But as time goes on, those goals sometimes begin to “collect dust.” It’s easy to lose sight of where you want to be if you get stuck in the “now.”

• If you are currently adjusting 20 patient visits/day and desire to adjust 100 PV/day, start running your practice as if you were already at your goal of 100. Begin by calculating how long it takes you to adjust one patient (have your CA time you or get a vibrating timer to put in your pocket). Determine the minimum average amount of time you can spend with each patient while still providing quality care. Try to stick to that schedule in anticipation of a greater patient load in the future. Act busy now, so you will be prepared later.

• If you are just starting your practice and you don’t have a lot of patients, try to cluster the scheduling of those patients. Nothing builds more confidence in a patient than when they see that you are busy. Would you feel comfortable if you were the only customer in a restaurant? Make sure your staff is trained to schedule patients this way.

Manifesting Prosperity
It is important to practice positive affirmations daily. Get out of the “need” stage of your practice and into the “ready” phase. Don’t tell yourself you need more patients; tell yourself you are ready for them.

Daily prosperity thoughts can include:
• create a vacuum for new patients;
• create value for your services, and believe you are worth that value;
• act “as if” until you really make it;
• manifest for prosperity, not the lack of it.
Focus on thoughts of prosperity and eliminate any thoughts of pessimism or insecurity. Don’t just say it, be it!

Ms. Thomas has been a chiropractic assistant and office manager for the past six years. She has worked in several high-volume (400+ patient visits/week) and successful practices in the Southeast. She presently serves as office manager of Atlanta Spinal Correction Center in Roswell, Ga. Ms. Thomas’ firm Practice Management Solutions focuses on helping doctors and their staff achieve their full potential. She can be reached at 678-641-6652 or at pmsolutions_jthomas@hotmail.com.

   
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