Are you engaged enough as a doctor of chiropractic, as a patient educator, and are you staying in front of patients?
What is it like to be a patient in your office? Do they come and go as they please? Do they remember your name? Unfortunately, most of us take our existing patients for granted and put most of our effort into attracting new patients and servicing the acute patients in our practice. While this can earn you a living, it’s exhausting, and one of the ways to add more revenue to your practice is by becoming a patient educator and seeing your patients for a more extended period.
If you stay engaged with your patients, they will remember you and are more likely to remain in a long-term plan, or at least come back to your office when they have a flare-up. Remember, it’s not your patients’ job to remember who you are — staying in front of them is one of the best strategies.
Patient touch points
Consider what kind of touch points you want for your patient over their first 12+ visits and year as a patient in your office. Engaging with your patient and being a patient educator may be in many forms, from a welcome-to-the-practice letter, timely emails, texts, conversations in the office, new-patient orientations and announcements by the office.
The more times you stay in touch with your patient, the more likely they will remember who you are; I like sending timely texts and emails throughout their first 12 visits, educating them about our practice.
I have found new-patient workshops to be a powerful way to educate patients on how your treatment helps them with other health problems. Every practice is different; I have friends who have subluxation-based practices that wildly succeeded with this method. My workshop was based on posture, pain and wellness. I focused on how poor posture affects function and eventually leads to pain. I felt that poor posture was something many people had and no one wanted, which is why I focused on that when I was hosting workshops.
Patient education opportunities
Your follow-up treatments are opportunities to educate your patients. You could develop many conversations, but 8-12 conversations could educate your patients slowly over a couple of months. I used snippets from my workshop. For example, you could have your topic on a whiteboard in the treatment area and ask patients about it throughout the week; you could attempt to have that conversation with each patient once a week as well.
Conversations are about the treatments; they could be about sharing a story about a patient you helped with a different condition and asking why it worked. The table talk isn’t new, and if you don’t like some of the ones you find on YouTube and other programs, come up with your own.
You could say, “Mary, we’ve been getting great results with your lower back over the last week. Earlier in the week, I had another patient who came in with migraines, and I could help them with a similar treatment. Any idea why that might have helped them?”
Another could be about joint imbibition and why joint mobility is essential. Another could be about a specific therapy in the office. Plenty is out there if you’re looking for subluxation talking points.
If you become a patient educator regarding their condition, how your treatment helps them, and what other types of patients could benefit from your treatments, you’ll retain more patients and make it easier for them to refer.
Referrals and newsletters
I would even have a talk about how to refer patients into our office and teach them the most straightforward ways. I also gave my patients handouts about a specific condition and how our office helped that specific condition.
Referring to someone is difficult because they are putting their reputation on the line, and they may feel uncomfortable doing it, but sharing a handout or an email is easy. Look at all the social media, YouTube videos and tweets that get reshared and redistributed.
I always loved a monthly newsletter that was mailed to my top patients. Most chiropractors only offer an emailed newsletter, but a physical newsletter gets consumed. In addition, the newsletter contained a referral piece about therapy or a condition we treated in the office. This made it easy to share, which added to our referrals. The remainder was about the month and what my family was up to at the time. Some companies make templated newsletters, but they will never gain traction unless you inject your story into the newsletter.
We’ve had patients feel attached to our business; even if you’re not personally seeing the patients, this is an important point.
Look at the attachment to Steve Jobs for Apple consumers long after he was gone, even though Steve Wozniak was the developer behind the scenes. Look at Elon Musk’s personal brand associated with Tesla and his other successful ventures.
If you thought of writing a newsletter, you could maybe do regular videos sent out to the patients. If you decide to move forward, I recommend being consistent and starting with a couple of things. I always have my newsletter out on the first Wednesday of the month, and patients expect it now.
Think of other reasons why you could send a message to your patients; you could send out:
- Happy birthday
- Happy first visit anniversary
- Holiday messages
Think about any social media groups, emails or mailing lists you have been on for a long time. Why do you stay? The reason is you are getting value from being there. Maybe it’s entertainment, maybe it’s because of the community, perhaps it’s for the information, but at the end of the day, if you did not receive perceived value for your time, you would not consume that material or video.
Be a patient educator even if you have to start small
Adding in all these different touchpoints can feel overwhelming; I suggest as a patient educator you start with something and adding content over time. There are content services that provide ideas and content. For example, I use automation to deliver all the messages, texts and emails at specific milestones.
Add the table talks weekly, and once you have 8-12, you can rotate these through each week. So even if you’re busy, you could probably find time to have your weekly table talk with every patient at least once that week to stay engaged with your patients.
NAOTA HASHIMOTO, DC, is the co-founder of TrackStat, patient tracking software making it easy for administrative people to attract and convert new patients while ensuring your existing patients stay in your practice. It offers new ways to retain patients and also offers ways for staff to communicate and schedule patients while providing you all the metrics of success. Learn more at TrackStat.org.