Make patients understand the effectiveness of your work and it will answer the question why is patient education important
I think back fondly on my 13 quarters of chiropractic college. I studied hard and picked up a lot of academic knowledge along the way. Ironically, I was so focused on getting straight A’s that I did not put enough thought into how I was going to make a living as a chiropractor one day. I figured that graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA at the top of my class would be enough. I was wrong. My patient care and marketing methods have evolved over 25 years of practice. The most effective business strategy I have for you as a chiropractor is born out of our desire to help our patients from the heart, and answer the question why pateint education is important. I simply suggest you become a skilled and efficient patient educator.
In the grand scheme of things, utilizing patient education in your practice through various means provides the opportunity to offer complementary and ancillary products in your practice that will help you expand the scope of your care. As chiropractors, we all have many flavors and differences with how we run our day-to-day practices. Let me give you a glimpse into mine.
I have spent years developing and refining my educational approach that centers around the feet as the foundation of our human house. After all, 99% of my patients have their three arches mildly, moderately or severely flattened. My patient education begins at the very first visit. I point out how deficiencies in the arches can affect the rest of the body and lead to multiple conditions in the lower extremity, upper extremity and axial spine. I ensure the patient understands that the effectiveness of the work I do as a chiropractor for their body is also dependent on what activities and demands are placed on them outside my office. A whole-body approach sets the stage for other aspects of their lives that we can provide solutions for.
For all my patient interactions, when I make recommendations for services or products, I take the selling out. Keeping the focus on patient education allows the patient to come to certain understanding and realizations, and this does the selling for you.
Be a competent extremity adjuster
The feet, ankles, knees and hips have an important role to play in pelvic/spinal stability all the way up the kinetic chain to the head.
The shoulders and ribs affect the stability of the cervical/thoracic regions. The TMJ affects the skull and the mid/upper neck. Chiropractors are more than just back and neck doctors, and being able to identify patterns of extremity and spinal involvement make you stand out from others in your geographic area.
Your skill set with extremity adjusting will bring you to another level in helping you stabilize a patient’s condition. You can build in this service as an add-on or extra charge to your prompt pay or cash patients or bill where appropriate and allowed by insurance carriers (consult a billing/coding expert).
Cold laser as a cash or out-of-pocket physiotherapy modality
Cold laser is my main example of an extremely effective physiotherapy modality that has stood the test of time in chiropractic.
Cold lasers have come a long way in 15 years and many more chiropractors are using them now vs. even just a few years ago. There are Class 4 and Class 3 lasers on the market that work very well for patient care. Lasers are generally affordable for chiropractors these days and the patients will pay out-of-pocket for a single treatment or series of treatments. This has been my main cash modality for many years.
Laser works on just about every body part and multiple health conditions/ailments; plus, the treatment times have been greatly reduced with the advancement of the technology over the years, which is why patient education is important in terms of this protocol efficacy.
Orthotics and shoes
Since 99% of our patients coming in for care have mild, moderate or severely pronating feet, this is why patient education is important in teaching patients to understand this is one of the strongest avenues for enhancing patient outcomes.
The three arches forming the plantar vault of the foot support the body from toes to nose. So, when these arches start falling after age 6-7, we can start looking at this for our patients. We have a wide age range whose feet need to be analyzed and would benefit from having orthotic support.
Orthotic sales are a big boon to my practice income as I prescribe 3-4 pairs per week.
I also discuss shoes with patients at length to make sure they are wearing ones that are well-made and are as supportive of the foot as possible. The orthotic company I work with also has various models of athletic, casual and dress shoes the patient can buy that come with the three-arch custom orthotics already inside of them. Thus, they get a top-quality orthotic and a supportive shoe as well, providing added value.
Patients are sleeping on terrible pillows, and they should not be buying pillows from retail stores. They should be buying them from you.
For some of you, inventory may be an issue, but for your own sake, find the space and choose your company or companies. The pillow market has tons of choices, but generally has one critical flaw: The patient is expected to conform their body to the pillow instead of the pillow conforming to the patient.
You can find cervical pillow styles that are effective and then have a sample in your office for the patient to touch and lie on. Watch them lie on it and see how their body position is. This helps reduce any problems and minimize returns.
Other ancillary products
The patient education you provide will naturally flow to you being able to offer other products. You will be moving patient care from just coming in to get adjusted to having support in many ways after the patient leaves your office.
Topical analgesic creams, CBD, nutritional supplements, and home rehab equipment like elastic bands are just some of the examples. You have a lot of influence over the buying habits of patients. I want to stress that the products and services you offer are clinically indicated from your professional evaluation of each individual.
Why is patient education important? The patient sees you as an expert and an authority. We take this responsibility to the next step by offering them choices that will continue to help them outside of the office. These choices will also help expand your practice while supporting optimal treatment results. It’s only right that chiropractors be paid for our time, our expertise and the skill set we bring to patients.
KEVIN M. WONG, DC, is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West. He has been in practice for over 25 years and is the owner of Orinda Chiropractic & Laser Center in Orinda, Calif. As a member of Foot Levelers Speakers Bureau since 2004, he travels the country speaking on extremity and spinal adjusting. See upcoming continuing education seminars with him and other Foot Levelers Speakers at footlevelers.com/continuing-education-seminars.