A common compliant of chiropractors is that their patients often do not complete their scheduled treatments.
The irony here is that when you’re doing your job right, they start to feel relief after only a treatment or two and decide they do not need further care. This can be frustrating to many DCs, knowing the patient’s pain will more than likely return if they do not finish their treatment regimen.
Patients often start to feel as if they can treat themselves at home, using techniques learned from online videos and the few trips that they took to your office. These “DIY” chiropractic patients are not only detrimental to your business but also more likely to injure themselves by performing procedures that should be done by trained professionals. However, there are a number of ways to address this problem.
The patient perspective
Walk a mile in your patient’s shoes. What is the first thing they see when they are in your office? While you do not want to make the experience stressful or intimidating, your office should reflect your skills and send a message that you are equipped to do more in-office than they can do at home. Liberally decorate your walls with diagrams explaining spinal manipulation and the other services you offer.
People are wary of their healthcare providers, especially those who are going to be working on an area as delicate as their spine. Make sure that every inch of your office sends out professional vibes.
In addition, the space where you work with your patients should be relaxing and inviting. While the office and waiting room should be clinical, it can be detrimental to your patients’ experience if your treatment space is too medical. Work on making your treatment space an environment where your patients feel relaxed and safe.
A brief but thorough history
The most important part of treatment is to understand the injury that you are dealing with. This will help you not only to treat it more accurately and quickly but also to properly advise the patient on how to avoid reinjuring themselves. Often, injuries due to physical trauma and everyday repetitive stress are largely aggravated or even caused by weak foundations and poor habits.
Ensuring that patients are doing everything in their power to lead safe and active lives is crucial. This helps you to retain patients because when they feel that you understand them, they are more likely to come back. Trust between patient and DC is key in the chiropractic field, and patients who feel heard and understood are much more likely to show you their loyalty.
Review the plan
If a patient is not sure exactly where their treatment is going, they will not deem it worth coming back. Make sure that each patient—especially ones who are not yet established—knows exactly what to expect from each treatment.
This will reduce the likelihood that they will skip sessions or, worse yet, drop your services entirely. Patients stop services when they feel that they are no longer required, so it is integral that you make them part of the process
This includes talking to them after sessions, ensuring that they know what to expect next time, and encouraging them to make regularly scheduled appointments. At the beginning of your sessions, it is a good idea to walk them through the healing process. Give them an idea of how long it might take, both so they are not disappointed to discover that recovery takes time and to emphasize that regular visits are essential.
Give them homework
Patients who are given exercises to do at home will not only have better, more consistent results from your visits, but will feel as if they are getting an experience in your office they cannot get at home. This can include anything from physical therapy exercises and stretches to dietary changes. But if you want a patient to come back, make sure they never leave empty-handed.
If they have concrete evidence of their progress in the form of a paper or instruction booklet, they are more likely to think back on their visit with you as a helpful one, and therefore be more likely to schedule more in the future.
Neal Griffin , DC, ART, specializes in sports medicine and performance enhancement. He graduated from parker University in 1998, and now provides chiropractic care for athletes in Arlington, Texas. He can be contacted through gospineandsport.com.