If you want to retain more patients and build your practice, then it is important to understand what drives patients away and what brings them into your office.
Doing the wrong things often enough will probably discourage even the best patients from coming back. Unfortunately, some patients are tempted to leave chiropractic care altogether or abandon their treatment plans when they begin to see their chiropractic clinic struggle in these areas.
In this article, you will read about some of the most important factors in patient retention. Keep in mind, there are other factors patients consider when choosing a chiropractor or deciding to leave the practice.
You should carefully survey your patients, keep in good communication with office staff, and listen to concerns voiced by people who decide to leave the clinic–this may help you diagnose retention issues in your practice and see if these three rules or other issues apply.
Rule #1: Know how time impacts your practice
Time is a friend and a foe. Make patients wait too long and ignore concerns about wait times, and you may just have a significant patient-retention problem on your hands. Hold the wrong hours, days and scheduling, and you will seldom have opportunities for patient appointments that are convenient for them. After a while, these issues have the potential to put your clinic out of business. Even the best chiropractors have to provide sufficient time (and respect for time).
If you are having challenges with wait times, for instance, this may represent a problem with patient scheduling, overbooking or time-consuming charting. Consider timing yourself at each appointment to uncover forgotten uses of time. Once you discover the culprit, it may be much easier to consciously solve your timing problems.
If you are still using paper records, switching to EHR may help. EHR problems may be resolved by obtaining additional training using your system, re-training staff, or connecting with your EHR vendor to troubleshoot and problem-solve a few means of using your system more effectively.
Rule #2: Make your processes, layout and flow conducive to patient retention
Sometimes, it is something about how your clinic processes, layout, location, or flow either encourage more patients to join your practice or drive them away. Whenever possible, try to improve your practice in the areas you have real control over. You cannot always change the location of your practice, for instance, but you do want your practice to be located somewhere nearby where your patients live, work and play.
Similarly, the patient experience at your clinic should flow naturally out of how you design and structure your chiropractic appointments. Having the wrong process, inefficiently using your space, or interfering with the natural feel of an appointment can drive patients away. If what you are doing causes frustration, discomfort or disappointment to patients, then your clinic risks having a reduced retention rate.
Rule #3: Have the right people and be mindful of customer service
Your patients are not really customers, but they still absolutely expect a certain amount of respect and customer service. This means they are always on the lookout and paying careful attention to what you do, what you say, and how much effort and knowledge you bring to every appointment.
They are also looking carefully at what your team does and says. Remember to stay mindful of this and make sure you hire the right people and choose good business partners.
Personality clashes can turn patients away. In disagreements with patients or when problems occur, you and your team must always take the higher ground and demonstrate professionalism. The customer is not necessarily always right, but you do need to err on the side of generosity and graciousness when you interact with the public. Although you do not want to seem rude, sometimes patients are sensitive or interpret what you say or do differently from how you intend to be seen. Keep this in mind as you interact with patients and prospective patients.
Providing customer service training for your staff and colleagues (and even attending a customer service training session yourself) may help. There can be considerable value in even very simple improvements such as changing the tone you use over the phone, rewriting the script your office personnel use when talking with patients, or reviewing the new patient onboarding process. Sometimes, you only have a slim window of time when you can make a good impression on patients and effectively recruit new people to your practice.
Learning the rules
In time, you will see what works best for your practice and you can determine which rules are the most helpful and effective. It takes effort sometimes to identify the best options for your clinic and figure out what must be done to fix problems with patient retention.
Being willing to experiment with different approaches and ask for help when you need it can be beneficial. Do not be afraid to ask other chiropractors what helps them the most with patient retention.
Of course, your patients are another important group to ask! Find out what brings in new patients and ask your long-time, loyal patients what they like the most about your clinic. If you can find out what brings these patients back, then you can uncover how to help your retention and also discover what characteristics are the most important to people who eventually choose your practice.
- com. “8 Ways Your Office Flow May Be Costing You Patients.” The Remarkable Practice Blog. https://theremarkablepractice.com/blog/8-ways-office-flow-may-costing-patients/. Accessed: February 2018.