If I have any regret surrounding chiropractic it is that too many of my patients didn’t follow through on good chiropractic care plans to get the “big picture” and the best that chiropractic has to give. I’m a lifetime chiropractic patient, why aren’t they? The simple fact that they just didn’t stick around long enough – or poor patient compliance – became a serious study of mine. After spending thousands on research it took me two years to go from a 36 PVA to a 72 PVA by applying a number of small but important fixes. The following are seven of those fixes that will boost patient compliance.
1. Do a head, heart and gut check: Are you giving “Golden Rule” recommendations? Here’s what I mean: What care recommendations would you outline for your father, mother, sister, brother, spouse or children? Remember, it’s your responsibility to assess the patient’s needs and make recommendations based on the best care.
When you give Golden Rule recommendations you align your head, heart and gut. Your conviction, compassion and confidence increase. Additionally, if the road gets rough along the way you know that you outlined the best care and can defend it.
Exercise: Based on your primary technique protocols as well as clinical experience, lay out a “Golden Rule” care plan. Present the plan to a colleague, asking him or her to take “the devil’s advocate” position to question your reasoning. Respond to each question with a smile and the starting phrase “Great question, let me clarify…”
Special Note: Let’s assume that you don’t adjust on the first day, and you explain what chiropractic is all about on a Day 2 ROF. The next two tips listed below must be part of a good ROF.
2. Have written care plans: I hold that biggest care scandal in chiropractic is chiropractors under-recommending care due to fear of rejection. To help counteract that temptation have a written care plan designed to take a patient through relief, correction, strengthening and into wellness. Written care plans make it harder to chicken out when recommending care.
Exercise: Write out your care plans and explain them to your CA.
3. Give your patients financial options: One of the biggest reasons for discontinuing good care plans is money. Not necessarily the lack of it, but not straightening out all the money details at the start when patients are giving you their best decisions and commitments.
Work out the money issue before the report of findings and give the patient financial options. I suggest that we finance or extend credit to patients so they can get the care they need and pay for it at their own pace.
I use and recommend www.cashpractice.com and like the three options that they give the patients.
I love saying “All three options save you a good amount of money. I don’t care which one you choose. It all depends on what works best for you.”
4. Re-state and re-commit the patient to their care schedule and financial arrangements that you just made in the ROF with your CA. This three-way agreement starts the administration of the details of patient payment and multiple appointment plans.
Let me explain why this is important: In the ROF the patient hears about the care they need and how to pay for it. These concepts become concrete realities as your CA writes out all the details. IF objections come up, she can handle them right there. From time to time you may need to have the patient come back with their calendar or personal digital assistant (PDA) for an appointment meeting.
Exercise: This is easy – put together a care and payment plan. In a training session explain the appointment and payment plans of this hypothetical patient to your CA. Your CA then role-plays the explanation of the appointment process, makes the appointments and goes over the fine detail of the patient payment plan. At first, listen and comply, but as your CA gains expertise increase the objections and work out rough spots.
5. Be genuinely glad to see and be interested in your patients. There is nothing that can replace personal warmth and a sincere interest in your patients well-being. A doctor I know who specializes in difficult cases from all over the world mentioned that she goes through a lot of tissues at her office. I asked why. She told me she frequently cries with her patients when they become emotional about their problems. Her patients know she truly cares about them and that’s at least one reason why she virtually never looses a patient.
Exercise: Greet every patient with a “Good to see you, (Name). We all love to hear our own names and everyone likes to be recognized, appreciated and approved of. “Hey, Norm!”
6. Always help your patients focus on the importance of the next care goal. Here you need to be a combination doctor, coach and cheerleader. When the patient is in the relief phase, I coach on how to get to correction and how important that is. When we are in correction, I coach on how to get the best correction and on to strengthening.
We are always focused on how to get to the next step and how important each step it. This is called leadership. It’s essential for good compliance.
Exercise: Take your patients to the Three Phases Chart, tell them where they are and talk about the importance of the next step.
7. Be quick to “come along side” the patient to fix problems with appointments, care recommendations or payment problems. If a patient demonstrates a weak commitment to their care, express your concern. Don’t bully people with a “my way or the highway approach.” Assume they want to do their best, but multiple factors may make it hard. Here are a couple phrases that can help you save a good patient from poor decisions and boost your patient compliance:
“You’re scaring me with how we’re treating your appointments, Gina, and I’m pretty brave. If I didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t be a good doctor and neither of us wants that. Is there anything wrong?”
Exercise: Role-play with your CA “coming along side” three patients you both know are having trouble keeping their appointments.
Want more on boosting patient compliance? Visit www.myfivestar.com or call us here at Five Star at (800) 224 4876.