There are three essential components of a report of findings (ROF): an explanation of the diagnosis; your recommendations; and the close.
The close is the point at which the patient is asked to make a commitment to proceed with treatment. It’s also the most critical part of the ROF, because nothing really happens in chiropractic until the patient says yes to your recommendations.
Many chiropractors are adept at the clinical side of practice, but could use some help with the close. As a result, more patients than necessary may leave without making a decision. One of the reasons a close may not occur is the tendency to tell patients too much. In other words, some doctors go on and on and on about the etiology of the problem; the relationship between structure and function, etc. This can result in “information overload.”
The intentions are good, but what often happens is that all the information overwhelms patients, confuses them and leads to indecision..
The key to effective closing is to make it easy for patients to say yes.
Following a brief explanation of your diagnosis and recommendations (including the costs involved) use what’s called a “trial close.” The purpose of this strategy is to check on how the patient has reacted to what you have said.
A trial close can be a simple, low-key question such as: “What would you like to do at this point?” or perhaps, “Is there any further information you need before making a decision?”
Reality check: Beware of outdated, high-pressure closing techniques such as, “Would morning or afternoon appointments be more convenient?” Today’s savvy patients will “smell the sell” and back off figuratively, if not literally, when it comes to this type of approach.
If you’ve done a good job, you may learn that the patient has no questions and is ready to proceed. On the other hand, the patient may have specific concerns such as, “Will my insurance cover these treatments?” This enables you (or a staff member) to focus on these questions rather than further, unneeded explanations.
The next step is named the “assumptive close” (with the assumption being that since there are no further questions, the patient is ready to proceed). A simple, “Shall we go ahead with this?” may be all that’s needed.
Closing is the last logical step in presenting a report of findings. Don’t stop short – for the patient’s benefit as well as yours.