What is a Patient Focused Practice? The answer to this question may help you to enjoy more satisfaction and success as a chiropractor.
I often get questions from chiropractors who have been struggling to define themselves as doctors, to define and shape their practices and to find the success they had hoped for. Many are truly frustrated, distressed and dissatisfied. Some are ready to give up.
I can honestly sympathize with this. I really do know what such struggles are like. I remember my own early years when chiropractic was still less than a generally accepted and respected profession. Back then we were still struggling for legitimacy and licensing in several states. I certainly had my own challenges creating a successful practice. It was not easy, but I did manage to do it.
And now, after 45 years as a chiropractor, and after building 3 separate practices (now working on number 4) I still love what I do. I still get up excited to go to work, excited to discover the new challenges and rewards each day brings.
However, I could not have maintained my love and enthusiasm for my practice for over 45 years if I were just a “backache doctor.” Nor would I be happy if I felt I needed to use fancy pitches and marketing campaigns to “sell” my services.
I am not a salesman, nor do I want to be. That is not how I want to spend my time and energy. I am a doctor, a chiropractic physician. I have a Patient Focused Practice and deliver personalized, Patient Focused Care. That is how I choose to spend my time and energy – and if I do that right, my patients do my marketing for me.
That is not to say that I didn’t play the chiropractic salesmanship game for a while. Over the years I subscribed to a few practice management seminars/programs/services. I was not happy with any of them. I found them to be a waste of time and money. Worst of all they caused me more conflict than clarity. Luckily I recognized that before I got in too deep.
Most of these programs push doctors into trying to build a huge, high overhead practice with several hundred patient visits a week and as many new patients as possible. That is a trap many doctors have gotten into, only to find themselves working long, hard hours just to cover their overhead. The gross numbers may sound impressive.
But what about the bottom line? And even when they are lucky and their net income turns out to be pretty good – most find they don’t have the time and energy to enjoy it. And by the time they can afford to retire, they have so abused their bodies, they can’t enjoy that either.
I do not think the high overhead model of practice, with huge gross numbers dependent on high pressure sales tactics, works for most people. And certainly not for those of us who have the soul of a healer. Nor for those who want to avoid unnecessary stress and be able to sleep well at night without having to worry about how to cover all that overhead. Nor for those of us who just want to have a comfortable, happy, healthy life with time to enjoy our families and the fruits of our labor.
To me being a successful chiropractor means having a practice that is personally and professionally satisfying. One that allows enough time to take good care of all patients, and provides enough financial success to have a comfortable living with enough personal time, energy and health to enjoy it.
The kind of practice that has worked that way for me is what I call a Patient Focused Practice.
In my writing, I frequently use the term Patient Focused Care or Patient Focused Practice. Several of my readers have asked, “What exactly do I mean by that?” And how does it help a practice to grow and thrive?
My personal practice took on new meaning when I adopted the Patient Focused Practice Mindset, and made Patient Focused Care my practice model. To me Patient Focused Care means that every interaction with my patients is totally focused on their concerns. The patients’ needs, fears and worries, no matter how trivial they might seem, are honored and are honestly addressed.
The patient’s primary reason for consulting me is always the first thing I deal with. When I quickly, efficiently and effectively take care of their primary complaint, I rapidly establish their satisfaction with my performance, confidence in my abilities and an important bond of trust with me as their doctor.
This inevitably opens the conversation to other health problems or concerns they have, but might not have associated with chiropractic, or thought of as having a natural solution. People are often amazed and pleasantly surprised to learn that I frequently help my patients with their headaches, digestive problems, high blood pressure, weakened immune systems, allergies and asthma, metabolic disorders, endocrine deficiencies and imbalances and weight loss.
As the conversation progresses, I find that most people would prefer a natural solution to their problems. Many speak of their frustration or even anger over their experiences with medical care. Beyond that, they often voice real fear of the side effects of medications, hospitals and surgery. That means that many are not only willing, but happy to take a natural approach to treatment, and are delighted that they have found a doctor who can help them.
This opens the scope of chiropractic practice to one of true health care, reaching far beyond the treatment of back and neck pain.
Being patient focused means developing real, honest, trust-based patient/doctor relationships. It means really seeing, hearing and responding to your patients as unique individuals.
No cookie-cutter, same for everyone, wrack’em and crack’em, assembly line adjustments in my office! I focus on each patient, one at a time, and always consider their unique situations and needs.
By inviting patients to discuss all their health issues and concerns, by taking the time to really listen and have a personal conversation, by discussing the possible alternatives I offer as an alternative to the usual medical approach, I create a natural, relaxed opportunity to inform them of the natural, safe options I can provide. In this way I teach them about options they did not know existed.
I believe this is the right way for chiropractors to let people know what we do, without subjecting them to the transparent marketing of patient education and orientation programs that are promoted by many practice management gurus as the way to build our practices.
Patient Focused Care in a Patient Focused Practice is the approach to practice building I prefer. It is natural and comfortable for the doctor and patients. And it has worked very well for me.
Good, honest, competent patient focused care sells itself. Happy patients do your marketing for you.