Design your ideal practice
I MEMORIZED 36 DIFFERENT TABLE TALK CONVERSATIONS when I was an associate years ago for my mentor and first boss. He quizzed me on them, role-played with me once a week during my lunch, and I had them memorized. Some were longer, two-minute conversations while adjusting patients, some were simple questions I would ask patients, and some were about generating referrals.
Conversations weren’t about the game, they were about chiropractic or things related to conditions chiropractic could improve. Questions encouraging them to think about health from within. Some of my friends are repulsed by the vitalistic concept, and some of my friends support vitalism. Regardless of how you feel, you must understand you have the practice today that you have tolerated. If you are a subluxation practice, you have lots of table talks, and if you are opposed to that concept, you can educate patients on functional movement, posture, etc.
Either way, it’s your job to educate, and I found when I did a better job educating, my practice grew with referrals and retention.
Up-leveling your table talk
This concept, called a table talk, is not new and has been in the profession for more than 100 years. However, since I have been out of practice, I have found other doctors I have hired weren’t as good at building and retaining patients, which is why I like the digital table talk. You still supply the same short table talks sent by email and text.
Some content could be about referrals, for example, you could send a video stating, “if you know anyone suffering from migraines or headaches, please share this video….” The video discusses your approach and how they can schedule an appointment. Short, simple two- to three-minute videos a patient can share with a friend. Some are education-focused; however, a better approach is to engage one-on-one with patients.
If you combined this with a workshop, table talks would be ideal, but a digital table talk is easy to initiate as well. In addition, some EHRs allow you to send text messages; the software we use in our office will allow you to send messages to patients on certain visit types or numbers, such as visit #6, #9, #12, #15, #18, etc.
The content could be short videos sent via text or email. It could be an engaging question prompting a response. Generally, if you want it to work better, it has to be focused on human-to-human (H2H) communication, meaning it looks like a personalized text message, i.e., a short, punchy text with personal language.
You wouldn’t send a 1,000-character text regularly to your friends, so why would you to a patient or practice associate? This is one of the biggest mistakes I see with communication because people do business with people. Communicating to them like a human will get a response; engagement is what you’re after from the patient. They don’t want to get pitched on your new product, service or multi-level marketing opportunity. Treat them like people; you will be amazed at how they respond.
Imagine receiving a 1,200-character text about an opportunity on your cell phone. Would you respond to it? Imagine if the text from a trusted source asked if you were interested in a new way to lose weight. If you were selling weight-loss services, it would put people in the category of people interested in losing weight. Engaging with them at this point would be more productive.
I’m not suggesting you stop sending information about webinars or other offers, but a text could ask that and let them know there is an email you sent with more information. On the other hand, it could be a text prompting a reply; either way, you are talking to them like a human being.
Improve patient compliance
The moral of the story is you can design your ideal practice and improve patient retention and compliance by using proved methods to continue to educate your audience. By integrating in-office table talks with digital table talks and using drip education (ideally, through a software you already have), you will see your practice thrive.
NAOTA HASHIMOTO, DC, is the cofounder of TrackStat (trackstat.org), a patient-tracking software making it easy for administrators to attract and convert new patients, while ensuring your existing patients stay in your practice. It offers new ways to retain, communicate with and schedule patients while providing you all the metrics of success.