Lead By Example
If we are to have credibility as physicians and teachers of a healthy lifestyle, we must lead by example. We must be seen as people who practice what we preach.
If you meet one of your patients in the supermarket, you can be sure that they will look at what you have in your shopping cart. It had better not be full of Kool-Aide, Coke, Twinkies, potato chips and Hamburger Helper. If you are overweight, smoke and are known to drink too much, you might as well forget giving health related advice.
Most Chiropractors enjoy a healthful lifestyle. Each of us should be our own best advertisement. We should share with our patients the things that we do personally to stay strong and healthy. The more personal we make it the more it will mean to them and the more likely they will be to follow our advice. It is good if we are known to practice what we preach. We should be known as doctors who always strive to give his or her patients the best care possible keeping up with the latest innovations and research in order to better serve the patient.
Patient Education — Teach How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
Most people know that there are things that they should be doing to improve their health but, the reality is that they are usually too busy with professional and family obligations to find the time to research and figure out what it is they should be doing. If they do start reading they quickly find there is an overwhelming amount of information out there, much of it contradictory, which leads to confusion and frustration.
As part of a holistic, patient focused practice, we teach good nutrition and how to supplement with vitamins and other supplements. Patients like it when we serve as a source of information and can clear up some of their confusion. They appreciate it when we filter the information for them and translate the technical jargon into simple terms they can understand and use to improve their health.
That kind of “patient education” is useful. There is no need to try to dazzle them with technical dissertations on the subluxation complex and spinal degeneration. Most patients, even if they can comprehend all that, really don’t care or need to know. Rather than waste their time and mine trying to impress them, I teach my patients things they can use to help themselves.
And, again, the best way to teach is to lead by example. Don’t forget to practice what you preach.
Stress control or stress management is another important thing we should teach our patients. We all know that stress plays a prominent role in almost every case that we see. When we help our patients address the stress in their lives they feel well cared for and cared about.
Patients who feel well cared for want to come back. They refer their friends and family. What better practice building tool could there be?
Take the time — it will pay off in the long run
I know that many DCs think that they do not have time for these additional services. All they want to do is find the subluxation fix it and leave it alone. I too subscribed to that line of thinking for much my career which has now spanned 50 years. During many of those years I personally saw 100+ patients per day.
I liked knowing that I could attract a high volume of patients, and I can honestly say that I did take good care of them — to a point. What was lacking was the human factor. I gave them good adjustments, and certainly that is the most important thing we do, but I have come to believe that there is more to being a chiropractor.
The subluxation is a major cause of dis-ease, but it is sometimes a secondary or even tertiary cause. When what should be good adjustments repeatedly fail to hold, we must expand our thinking. The answer seldom lies in adjusting the patient more often and over a longer period of time. That is why many chiropractic patients get frustrated with their care and complain that, “I feel better for a little while but it goes right back out.” This is a major cause of patients giving up on chiropractic.
The answer will always lie in re-analysis. Is a change of our adjusting formula, listing or category necessary? Or do we need to look beyond? Perhaps we have to expand our vision of what constitutes the real underlying cause. Perhaps we need to look outside the box.
Finding the cause of the cause – Sometimes it requires a little detective work.
Certainly the subluxation causes health problems, but often we have to ask: “What is the cause of repetitive re-subluxation?” This often takes some thought, observation and investigation. A good example of this was a recent case of a woman who does the bookkeeping and accounting for her family’s business. She came to me complaining of a typical cervical/brachial radiculopathy.
When after a few visits, we had made little if any progress, I knew that I had to look further. I questioned her about her work space. What she described did not sound good, so I visited her office to see it for myself.
What I found was an ergonomic disaster. Her computer keyboard was positioned too high. Her mouse was in an awkward position and her monitor was far off to her right side causing her to spend many hours each day with her head and neck in 45 degrees of right rotation.
I called her husband up to her office and explained to both of them how the improperly designed business office was causing her neck, shoulder and arm pain and paresthesia in her hand. I told the husband what changes needed to be made to allow his wife to work in a comfortable position eliminating the postural stress on her body.
The changes I recommended were done immediately, and within a few days and a couple of adjustments her symptoms were gone and she was holding her correction.
Had I not taken the trouble to go the extra mile to investigate what I suspected and see it for myself so that I could make specific recommendations to correct the situation; this case would not have come to such a rapid and successful conclusion.
Never overlook the Stress Factor in any kind of dis-ease.
In looking for the underlying causes of a persistent problem, always consider the stress factor. Stress can be anything that overly taxes the individual’s abilities to adapt. It can be anything that overloads the body’s operating systems. To be ultimately successful we have to correct the cause where we find it, be it physical, ergonomic, nutritional, chemical, emotional, electromagnetic or, most likely, a combination of factors. We must be willing to think in terms of multiple causes because it is not possible to solve a multi dimensional problem with a one dimensional solution. Sometimes it requires a little detective work. It always requires getting to know your patients.
The good news is that it really doesn’t take that much more time to provide a lot more service. Granted, I can’t see 100 patients per day any more, but frankly, I don’t want to. I allow more time for each office visit, but every minute of every visit is focused on the patient and their needs. Every adjustment is based on the indicators that are found that day. My wife Kiana keeps a detailed record of every adjustment so that I can always retrace my steps, to know what worked or didn’t. She works right along with me in the adjusting room. This is one of the important and effective changes I made when I began my retirement practice. Patients can’t help but notice the continuous communication that takes place between Kiana and me about the details of their adjustment. It tells them that what I do is very precise and that precision is important and accounts for the great results I am able to provide for them.
Focus all of your attention on the patient
In my office we don’t talk up the profession or try to educate the patients on the many benefits of chiropractic. We show them. When we do talk, or “educate” it is specific to the patient. Our conversation is confined to the patient’s condition, progress and patient specific recommendations on nutrition, exercise or any other things the patient needs to achieve the best possible results.
I spend no time or energy on chiropractic orientation or education. The patient never feels that he/she is being indoctrinated. I don’t sell chiropractic.
Patients know that I am a chiropractor. That is why they come to me. Most don’t want to know all the whys and hows of what I do to help them. They just want help. They come to me because I have a reputation of helping people and getting great results quickly. Of course, I am always happy to explain to any patient who wants to understand more and asks questions
In the final analysis, though, most patients don’t really care if you are a DC, MD, DO or ND. They just want to feel that they are being very well cared for. They want to be treated like the unique human being they are — with a face and a name. They want to be recognized, to feel visible, and to feel they are truly cared about and cared for. And they want results that make them feel better and get well.
Many of our patients tell us that we make them feel that they are the most important patient we have. That says a lot. And that is how we strive to make every patient feel.
People are willing to pay for that kind of individualized care, the kind of care that is disappearing in this modern world where robots are taking over and algorithms rule. Person to person, individualized care has become a rare and valuable treasure. People are willing to pay for something rare and valuable. Especially when it provides them with tangible results they can see and feel.
My fees are not low but it is not unusual for people to insist on paying more than I charge. Yes, it is not unusual for me to get “tips” – sometimes big ones.
I get fast results, I see each patient the fewest number of times possible. When making recommendations for future visits, I solicit the patient’s opinion about how often to schedule their visits. They appreciate being included in the decision making process, rather than being dictated to. This approach makes them feel that I value their opinion and that they are not being pushed into more than they want or can afford. It is interesting to note that most people are quite realistic about the amount of care they will need to correct their problem.
There are multiple benefits to this interactive way of practice. The patient recognizes that your goal for them is the same as their own: That you want to help them quickly and economically and that you to respect them as a person and not just another billing opportunity.
They in turn will respect your professionalism, recognizing that what you do is so much more than a perfunctory slam, bam, thank you Ma’am, see you Monday, Wednesday and Friday until your insurance or checkbook give out.
Perception is everything. When people perceive that you are putting their interest first, that you are serving, not selling, they will not hesitate to refer their family and friends.
This is how I practice. My schedule is always full. Most days I have a waiting list. I don’t have to worry about recruiting new patients. My patients do it for me. It is a very low stress way of practicing. And it is, in fact, the way our profession was built. It is the way legendary pioneers like Dr. Clarence Gonstead, Dr. Major De Jarnette, Dr. Clay Thompson and Dr. Burl Pettibon practiced. I know because they were my personal mentors.
Schedule your patients in a realistic way that works for everyone, and that respects their time and yours.
Patients are more likely to make and keep appointments if they do not mean taking a big chunk of time out of their personal or work schedules. Patients really appreciate knowing that they will not have to spend a huge amount of time in my waiting room “waiting.” I have found that because I respect their time, my patients are much more likely to respect mine. I have very fewe “no shows.”
Kiana does our patient scheduling. I owe much of our success and our always full schedule to Kiana’s attention to our appointment book. She has taught our patients to respect our time. We in turn show our respect for their time by staying on schedule. Or very close to it. Our patients seldom have more than a few minutes waiting time.
We actually try hard to keep our waiting room nearly empty. That means things are working on schedule. Our patients like this. We respect their time and they respect ours.