Chiropractic care is undeniably an effective healthcare service well worth the money consumers pay for it.
This is attested both by research and by the experiences of any practicing chiropractor.
But you would also agree that it’s not the service you provide that will hold you back from success, it’s the way you offer the service that will stifle or even sabotage your efforts.
Many great adjusters have closed their doors as the result of having a weak business plan, while many a mediocre adjuster have taken their practice to new heights with a strong one.
The success of any small business— chiropractic included—is largely contingent on the development of a major set of directives: operations.
Created and organized correctly, your professional and administrative operations become your how-to guide for every facet of your business. But knowing you need operating procedures or that you should have an operations manual doesn’t mean much if you don’t understand their purpose.
To better understand how using operations can ensure your success, and how they can help you run an efficient, profitable, well-oiled business that helps hundreds or even thousands in your community, take a deeper look into what comprises successful operations.
The short answer: systems.
Many years ago, William Edwards Deming—a trusted consultant to influential business leaders, corporations, and governments around the world—said that almost 95 percent of business problems are systems driven, and only 5 percent are people driven. In other words, you have the best chance of creating a successful practice if your small business is run through simple systems comprised of easy-to- understand protocols and scripts.
You could call this systems-based service, for a chiropractic practice run almost entirely through tested and proven systems (e.g., protocols and scripts). In other words, almost everything that can be orchestrated is orchestrated.
This includes administrative responsibilities such as taking a phone call, onboarding a new patient, or scheduling an existing one. It also includes professional tasks like consultations, reports of findings, and follow-up visit protocols.
A sample system
As an example, consider the following portion of a simple administrative system for new patient calls. The protocol and script could be something like this:
CA: “Thank you for calling [practice name]. This is [CA name]. How may I help you?
Caller: “Hi, I wanted to see about coming in as a new patient.”
CA: “OK, great. I can help you with that. Can I ask how you heard about us?” (Record response in the marketing column of the statistics log.)
CA: “OK, thanks for letting us know. Did you want to get in today?”
CA: “Great. I have a [time] and [time] available.” (Direct the patient toward preset new-patient times rather than allowing patient to choose random times.)
Caller: (Chooses time).
CA: “OK, let me get a little more information from you to get you in the system and make the onboarding process easier for you when you get here for the appointment.” (Position this part of the protocol as making the upcoming appointment easier for the patient.)
And the script and protocol continue on this way to completion. You may be thinking that this is all common sense. In fact, it is anything but. In the example above, if employees are left to create their own way of handling a new patient call, each staff member will handle them differently.
Practice makes perfect
To prevent details from being overlooked and to ensure consistency of information gathering and delivery, following a protocol and script is essential. You then role-play those protocols and scripts until you and your staff can execute them flawlessly.
This doesn’t mean your communications with patients sound robotic— in fact, the opposite occurs. By orchestrating your daily “performance” with systems you become more proficient and efficient in your duties because your rehearsed protocols and scripts make everything second nature.
You’ll answer questions with more confidence, complete tasks with less effort and more accuracy, and waste less time. Even your chiropractic message will be more consistently delivered. What does all that mean for your office? It means more time to socialize with patients and work on new marketing ideas.
Admittedly, no systems can make your office run perfectly day in and day out. Between new aches and pains, injuries, payment issues, form updates, and every other administrative and care-based variable that pops up, there will always be plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting. What systems will allow you to do, however, is handle everything else that emerges throughout the day more effectively and efficiently, resulting in less stress for your staff and a more consistent experience for your patients.
If you get diverted from your standard operational course by a question or problem that presents itself, your well-rehearsed protocols and scripts will ensure you come right back to where you left off, preventing you from missing anything important.
On the other hand, without systems in place, your office efficiency, competency, and workflow is wholly dependent on the personality, decision- making skills, and critical thinking an employee brings to the table.
Once trained in them, systems allow virtually anyone to competently fulfill their role, resulting in a business that provides consistent patient service and treatment. And customers like consistency.
Daron Stegall, DC, is COO of Pivotal Practice Solutions, specializing in helping chiropractors open or transition their existing office towards a cash- or membership-based practice model. He is also cofounder of SuccessfulChiro.com, providing chiropractic business and marketing solutions since 2001. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through PractivePivot.com.