The more your patients know about chiropractic, the more referrals you will receive. Here’s how to educate your patients and in turn, add to your bottom line.
The Reaction Program focuses on how a doctor or CA responds to patients’ standard statements or questions. You have probably noticed that many patients tend to make comments such as, “Boy you sure are busy”; “I didn’t know chiropractic could help”; “I shouldn’t have waited so long,” etc. Depending on your approach, your responses to patients’ statements or questions can stimulate referrals.
Let’s assume a patient says, “I didn’t know a chiropractor could help asthma.” Your referral-stimulating response could be: “Many people don’t know we can help asthma, hayfever, and sinus problems. Most people think of a chiropractor as a doctor who takes care of back pain, headaches, neck pain, whiplash, and other pain problems. They don’t realize we are equally effective at treating internal problems such as hayfever and asthma. I’m happy you learned chiropractic can help these health problems, and if you know anyone who has asthma or any of the health problems I just mentioned, please make sure you tell them about my office.”
By giving this type of response to your patient’s statement about asthma, you just taught him about six other health problems that chiropractic can help. Write out a referral reaction/response to each of your patients’ standard statements or questions. Then use these responses to multiply your referrals.
Send Out Literature With Patient Mailings
Every time you mail something from your office, you should include a piece of chiropractic literature. When you received your last credit card bill, chances are you also received advertisements for products such as tires, television sets, tools, etc.
Big business is smart. Major companies make every penny count. They have to pay for envelopes, labeling, and postage, and they know you have to open the envelope to look at your credit card bill – so they make sure every piece of mail you receive is full of items for sale.
You can turn the expense of processing and mailing bills into an income generator by including inserts that promote the benefits of chiropractic care and the use of related products.
When you send out a narrative report, also send an article about using chiropractic to treat whiplash cases. When you send mail to a workers’ compensation attorney, send an article about low back pain. When you send mail to an insurance company, send excerpts from studies that provide documented evidence on the benefits of chiropractic care.
Produce a Quarterly Newsletter
Make sure your newsletter contains stories about three or four different health problems and how chiropractic can help. Don’t try to produce your own newsletters; hire a professional. Many office newsletters contain way too much writing, and not enough graphics. If a newsletter is crammed full of type, the patient often feels it’s not worth the amount of time it would take to read.
Each newsletter article on how chiropractic can help a specific health problem should be no longer than three or four paragraphs. People tend to be in a hurry these days, and many simply won’t take the time to read anything longer. Make your articles quick, interesting, and easy to read.
A newsletter should also tell the reader what’s new at your office, i.e., your attendance at seminars, new equipment, new CAs hired, etc.
Get a website up on the Internet to promote your practice. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Almost every business of any consequence has a website. Your site should explain who you are, your qualifications, why people should travel 20 miles to see you, etc.
Your website should also include a section devoted to the various health problems you treat. People checking out your website will learn how chiropractic can help a particular problem, and they will know more about the quality care you and your staff provide. It’s important to include your contact information at the end of each section
On every super bill is a list of all the services available in your office. When you complete a patient treatment, you check off the services you’ve provided on the patient’s super bill. When the patient checks out that day, she is given a copy of her super bill showing what services were received, and all the other services that are available. The super bill has the potential to educate the patient and may motivate her to ask about the other services you provide.
You may be familiar with electronic demonstrators. These electronic wall charts of the nervous system have a push-button located over each vertebra. When you push one of the buttons, a corresponding organ or an extremity at the end of the nerve controlled by that vertebra lights up. These are excellent tools to use in educating your patients.
When you explain to a patient what is wrong with him, he pushes the button that corresponds with his misaligned vertebra. The organ or extremity at the end of the nerve that is pinched by the misalignment lights up, showing the patient the neurological connection.
You then ask the patient to name a physical problem someone he knows has. He pushes the button that corresponds to this health problem, and the site of his friend’s problem lights up. By repeating this procedure, you are educating your patient even further.
You should have an electronic demonstrator in your consultation room. The demonstrator is a superior aid in helping you clearly and effectively communicate the need for care to your patients.
You should also put electronic demonstrators in your adjusting rooms. When you find a subluxation, you can touch the area enervated by the nerve and ask the patient, “Do you hurt over here?” If the patient says, “Yes, how did you know?”, you can walk over to the electronic demonstrator and say, “Here, let me show you.” You push the button that corresponds to the patient’s misaligned vertebra, and voila, the area where the patient is hurting lights up. To be able to actually see what you are explaining helps turn patients into chiropractic believers.
Making Productive Use of Patient ‘Down Time’
A patient’s typical office visit consists of quietly reading magazines while in the reception room, silently walking to the adjusting room and receiving an adjustment, receiving his therapy, checking out and going home. Patients often leave without you and your staff taking the opportunity to make their office experience something more than just a necessary treatment. Your CAs can help you change this scenario.
A patient’s visits are typically scheduled for the same days and times each week. Have your front desk and therapy CAs introduce each patient to the other patients who tend to come into your office around the same time. Your CAs can subtly attempt to turn each patient conversation to chiropractic. When this is accomplished, patients will often start talking to each other about their health problems. Patients tend to like sharing information about their health problems, looking for acceptance, understanding, and assurance that the care they have chosen is the best for them.
As your patients continue through their treatment programs, they will see themselves getting better, and they will talk to your other patients who are also getting well from various health problems. When patients see other patients with sciatica, ruptured discs, migraine headaches, bursitis, etc., get well under your care, they will often increase their referrals to your office. Many of these referrals will occur because one patient was introduced to another patient who was introduced to another, etc.
Work on establishing a number of lectures to present to your patients. The first lecture should be a general health-care class. This lecture should be conducted every week or every other week for all patients. This lecture serves as a chiropractic orientation class in which you explain the bigger picture of chiropractic, the health problems a chiropractor can help, etc. This class is the perfect opportunity to change the patients from a “back-ache” mentality to a “subluxation-based” mentality. When you conduct this class effectively, the number of referrals you receive from patients will increase, and you will also increase your patients’ treatment program compliance levels.
Your next lecture should be a “back school” class, to teach patients how to perform daily living activities without hurting themselves (i.e., how to lift, how to get into a car, etc).
Will teaching patients how to avoid back injury hurt your practice? Absolutely not. Years ago, dentists started teaching us how to prevent cavities, how to brush our teeth, the proper use of dental floss, etc. They have done a marvelous job of reducing cavities and saving people’s teeth. Because of this, do we go to the dentist less today? No, we actually go more, now that we understand the value of preventive dental care.
Dentists have also successfully taught us to trust and appreciate their cosmetic services, including braces, bonding, capping and whitening procedures. The more dentists teach us how to take care of our teeth, the more they raise our dental I.Q., and the more we go to the dentist. Similarly, the more you raise your patients’ chiropractic I.Q., the more they will come to you for their health problems and for the preventive care we wish all our patients would take advantage of.
You can also develop lectures that match your practice specialties. For example, if you have a focus on nutrition, you could lecture on proper nutrition, osteoporosis, antioxidants, etc. Conduct these lectures about once every eight weeks, since providing the same information too frequently could seem too repetitive to your patients.
Place X-rays with obvious abnormalities in lighted view boxes in your adjusting rooms. Patients will often ask you what is wrong with the patient whose X-ray is displayed. This query gives you the opportunity to explain the various health problems the patient in the X-ray has, the care you are giving her, and how she is responding. (Obviously, don’t mention the patient’s name, as this would be a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality. Take care to obscure the X-ray name plate.)
Be sure to replace the patient X-rays with different ones each week. By the end of a patient’s treatment program, you will have taught him about numerous other health conditions you are successfully treating.
Start using these patient education tools today to increase referrals and patient compliance rates. You’ll be glad you did – and so will your patients.