Tips for improving patient compliance with your recommendations
IN PRIVATE PRACTICE, PATIENT RETENTION IS THE DIFFERENCE between thriving or having to constantly market to get new patients. Retention is also a fine-tuned balance between helping patients with immediate problems and helping them transition to a state of health and wellness.
We all want to see our patients improve with the goal that they will continue to work with us and refer.
So how does one artfully bridge that gap? Insert patient compliance.
Keep it simple
On the surface, improving patient compliance isn’t exactly an exciting topic. In fact, it’s typically a source of daily head-scratching moments caused by patients not following through on recommendations.
That being said, when compliance is done right, it’s the foundation to build a base of patients that will actually apply your advice and stick with you for years. First, we need to address why your patients aren’t listening to your recommendations, so that you can understand the core of this issue.
Patients are busy.
We have to remember that patients have lives outside of appointments. When they leave your practice, they move on to the rest of their day to juggle life, work, kids and everything in between. When they get home at the end of the day, the first thing that’s on their mind is making dinner or flipping on the TV, not your advice.
The foundation of compliant patients comes down to one word — simple. To get patients to listen and follow through on your advice, you have to make it simple for them, which is why these three steps are going to skyrocket your compliance and, as a side bonus, make your practice simpler, too.
Step #1: Get visual
While there are various learning styles, research consistently shows that when it comes to retention, people only remember 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read, but about 80% of what they see and do.
Knowing this, imagine three different patients:
- Patient A is told to do a posture exercise;
- Patient B is given a flyer to take home and read how to do a posture exercise;
- Patient C is shown a posture exercise, then asked to demonstrate it by the doctor.
Which patient is going to be more compliant? While all three patients have technically been given the same information, patient C has an 80% better chance of remembering that exercise and actually doing it.
Just an extra minute with a patient can make all the difference in improving patient compliance and their progress. The magic with this one step is that patients will not only take your advice to heart, but they’ll be more satisfied as a result of retaining it.
Step #2: Use the tech advantage
Improving patient compliance starts with meeting patients where they are, and that’s on their phones. People spend an average of 24 hours a week — that’s one full day — online.
Flyers, brochures, pamphlets, though well-intentioned, will likely get thrown in the trash or added to the ever-growing paper monster because people are drawn to their screens.
So forget spending part of your marketing budget on printouts of your recommendations. Instead, use tech to make your advice easy to access by sending patients instructions via text, email or a social media messenger. Pick one mode of online communication. Make it a standard practice to communicate to patients this way, and get rid of the paper.
To take it a step further, use a web-based portal or app so patients can log in and see the instructions that you recommend for them. Several companies now have platforms like this, so that patients can access your advice from their smartphone and see visual demonstrations of your recommendations. Using tech will make your patient flow faster as well because you can allow online tools to do the patient education for you.
Step #3: follow-up to create follow-through
There’s nothing more frustrating than giving patients great advice, all to find out in the next appointment that they’ve completely forgotten about it, and you have to educate them all over again. Lack of follow-through is a distraction from your flow and slowly drains your energy.
Compliance is all about taking initiative, not from the patient, but from you. Be the advocate and follow up with patients in between appointments. Even just one follow-up can be the difference between getting them on track or forgetting what you’ve told them.
To make this step efficient, set a standing time every week dedicated solely to following up with your patients, and create a simple template that you can copy, customize, and paste as a text or email.
Patients will appreciate you thinking of them, and you will save time at their next appointment to focus on their care and their progress, not on repeating yourself. When you put these three steps into motion, not only will you boost compliance in your practice, you will also enhance the experience patients have with you. They will be more satisfied with their care, more likely to become wellness patients, and more likely to refer people to you.
At the end of the day, improving patient compliance makes for healthier patients, cultivating a healthier practice.
JEN FABER, DC, is the founder of the House Call Practice Program and coaches chiropractors on how to escape high-volume stress with house calls. Named by Longevity Media as one of the Top 10 Wellness Leaders to Watch, Dr. Jen has been featured on CBS, CW, FierceCEO and Project Happiness. As a house call chiropractor, she has worked with clients on the Lady Gaga Tour, National Geographic, MSNBC, Washington Ballet and Motley Fool. To learn more, visit housecallpractice.com.