After achieving pain relief on a patient, most chiropractors want that patient to continue care. But why?
Patients come into your office because of pain, and once they’re out of pain, they want to know why they should come back or continue care. If you want your patients to continue needed care, you need to give them valid reasons for returning – reasons they can easily understand and readily accept.
Get Well, Stay Well
There are several different programs and procedures that have been proven to substantially increase the number of returning patients. One of them is the use of the philosophy of chiropractic.
This philosophy teaches patients the “get well, stay well, continue to feel good” aspect of chiropractic care. In other words, you paint the “big picture” of chiropractic for your patients. When done properly, this motivates patients to come back for the “stay well, continue to feel good” portion of their chiropractic care.
Effectively teaching the “big picture” requires you to be constantly conveying this message to your patients, including presenting an impressive report of findings and a quality health-care class; using daily visit communications that repeat the same message; sending newsletters that teach the same message; and in every way encouraging and affirming the chiropractic big picture. Of those patients who consistently and repeatedly hear the same big picture philosophy, approximately 5% to 10% will accept it as part of their lifestyle.
Return of pain is another reason patients return for care. The goal is to get your patients to understand and accept that: “You should not let your health problem (pain) creep up on you; otherwise it could become a serious problem.” This can be accomplished by reminding the patient often about the importance of getting chiropractic care as soon as the patient feels any sensation of discomfort.
How well and how consistently you state this message, will help determine how quickly and how many of your patients return for care.
Knowing they can prevent something from getting worse is another excellent reason patients stay under care or return for care. For example, in the case of an injured disc, the doctor may explain to the patient that in order to prevent degeneration from occurring, repetitious adjustments and intersegmental traction are necessary to keep the discs pumping, to bring nutrition into the discs, and to get rid of the tissue breakdown byproducts. Many patients who understand what they may be preventing will gladly come in for this type of care.
Understanding the long-term health consequences of not restoring curves will also motivate patients to remain or return for recommended care. Many patients who suffer whiplash injuries, sport injuries, falls, etc., also suffer a resultant straightening of the cervical and lumbar curves.
Unless these curves are restored, the patient is practically assured a life of arthritis, pain, metabolic problems, etc. The doctor who teaches this message is the doctor who will have a higher percentage of return visits. Patients must be educated and constantly reminded that once their pain is gone, in order to keep it gone, they must continue to receive care that will help restore the curve of their neck or lower back.
Patients who know a chiropractor can help eliminate their unnatural curves will return for care. Sadly, a significant percentage of young females, and some males, develop scoliosis. This disorder is uncomfortable, and becomes psychologically debilitating as its progression makes the condition visibly apparent. Scoliosis also predisposes a patient to heart and lung problems.
There are some very specialized chiropractic techniques that have proven successful in the treatment of the most common scoliosis cases. If scoliosis patients know you can fix or significantly reduce their scoliosis, they will eagerly follow your recommendations. Once again, patients need to be taught what chiropractic can do for scoliosis patients, and should be reminded of this through various means of patient communication and education.
Send birthday cards to your patients with a coupon for a free maintenance check-up. They’ll be happy to come in for their free adjustments, and if their problem is returning, or a new health problem is arising, you will find it and recommend appropriate treatment.
A telephone call to former patients is often successful in stimulating former patients to return for care, when done properly. Don’t try to pressure the patient to return for care. The message you want your telephone call to convey is that you are interested in how the patient’s condition has been since their last appointment. If patients feel they may need care, according to the philosophies of care previously discussed, they will return. The phone call simply gets the patients thinking about how they have been feeling and creates a convenient opportunity to make an appointment if necessary.
You can also present a series of educational classes and invite former patients to attend. Topics would be “Neck School,” “Back School,” “Activities of Daily Living,” “Proper Nutrition,” “Osteoporosis,” etc. Many of your former patients will attend these classes and if they feel they need care, they’ll start again. Health evaluation check-ups will stimulate your patients to return to your office. And, if they need additional care, they will get it.
- once-a-year osteoporosis evaluation;
- twice-a-year blood and urine chemistries for diabetes, etc.;
- once-a-year nutritional evaluation;
- twice-a-year evaluation to determine if a cervical pillow is still beneficial (cervical pillows usually lose their original shape after six months of use and should be replaced with a new one);
- once-a-year evaluation for foot orthotics.
Every three months, a corrective exercise evaluation should be conducted. If patients get sloppy doing the exercises you prescribed, they could easily end up exercising the wrong muscles. Therefore, it’s imperative that you re-evaluate their exercise technique at least every three months.
Lastly, have your patients address a “Reminder Post Card” with their name and home address, and insert the date of their next scheduled maintenance visit in the appropriate space. A CA then files this reminder post card to be mailed to the patient five days prior to their maintenance check-up. When patients receive this post card with their own handwriting on it, it will stimulate them to keep their appointment.