Follow these four steps to build and strengthen the relationships within your practice.
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR PATIENTS IS IMPORTANT for building relationships and a critical factor in retention and patient referrals.
The following are four essential steps to developing a lasting and trusting relationship with your patients:
1. The consultation: This is the first chance you get to start a relationship with your potential patient. And it’s your one opportunity for that critical first impression.
The patient’s initial assessment of you, your office, and your staff will set the stage for any further relationship — developing their trust in you, their faith in the process, and their willingness to comply with your recommended course of treatment.
Patients who fully understand their condition and what they will be learning and doing with you will be more likely to follow through with their care and refer others.
Create an atmosphere of dialogue that facilitates understanding by asking questions at the beginning of the consultation and answering any questions the patient may have in return. In many cases, the information you are providing to the patient is being heard for the very first time.
2. The evaluation: The purpose of the evaluation is to create an opportunity for you to gather the necessary information and a time for the patient to be educated on how you define health and how chiropractic will benefit him or her.
At the end of an evaluation, you ideally want your patients to say that this was the most informative and
enlightening evaluation they have ever had. The evaluation gives the patient a better idea of what you do and it gives you a better idea of what the patient needs.
As you go through each evaluation, make sure the patient understands the tests and procedures that you are performing and answer any questions they have pertaining to their condition.
3. The report of findings (ROF): The ROF is the most critical bonding experience you have with your patient.
This is the point where you and the patient build a relationship, talk about the importance and duration of care, discuss finances, and make further recommendations.
The extended report of findings addresses what the patient wants to know relating to their problems. In turn, this is your chance to offer further education and your solutions to their health issues.
The patient has these areas of concern: What is my problem? Can chiropractic help me? How long will it take to fix my problem? How much is it going to cost?
What you need to address: How long your patient feels they have had their health problems. How long do they feel it will take to restore them back to health. How to educate them further so they have the knowledge and comprehension of where they are going with your recommendations of care.
From here, both parties should decide if they want to continue the treatment plan and whether the patient understands the rules of engagement and your expectations.
4. Ongoing patient communication and relationship building: “Table talk” is essential in the doctor-patient relationship. Similar to having a favorite restaurant, a place to go, or a person with whom you have the utmost confidence and affinity, you must cultivate that inner feeling of trust and certainty with the patient.
Table talk is an ongoing communication you have with the patient that generates and stimulates discussion primarily about health issues relating to the patient’s health progress, and the family or friends they may want to refer to your practice.
In many cases, doctors tend to talk about personal issues during their time with patients and forget that each visit is more about the patient and less about the doctor’s vacations and material things. This can actually be resented by patients.
Sometimes doctors and patients become too sociable and congenial, which can lead to crossing boundaries that make it difficult to maintain the professional course of the relationship. Like any other relationship, people want to be friendly, but there should be a professional barrier that exists between you and your patients.
Table talk is just that, and each visit should build on the next. As the patient’s education about chiropractic grows, so will your practice. These four steps will help you become a better communicator, and at the same time, a better educator and health advocate in your community.