It’s a tough pill to swallow, no pun intended, but many in the alternative healthcare profession, particularly chiropractors, just don’t deliver the goods. There are a variety of reasons why; some easy to fix, some not so easy. Many practice and patient issues are directly related to the attitude and personality of the practitioner. It’ll take much more that a blog to remedy those situations. For now, let’s take a look at what you can do NOW to improve your patients and practice. Patient reviews are a great place to look for wisdom about how a practice performs. I recently checked out the reviews of a franchise who is selling chiropractic at bottom dollar prices. Skimp on the quality and your patients will tell the world about it. Don’t be that office.
1. LISTEN TO YOUR PATIENT
In other words, take a better history. Inevitably, I get the MOST push back on this topic because most practitioners either don’t have time or they think that they already do a good one. Nearly all of the diagnostic information you need will come directly out of your patient’s mouth. All you have to do is ask the right questions, shut up and listen. Much of the heavy lifting can be done by having the patient fill out a good intake form, at home or at the office. Relevant information will include the reason for the visit (complaints), the date, personal information, work history, diet, drinking, exercise, meds, past medical history, and a review of body systems. Do you even know how to do a review of body systems?
2. ACTUALLY TOUCH YOUR PATIENT
Most negative patient experiences come from them feeling like the practitioner rushed through and didn’t examine them. Wait? We are supposed to examine our patients? You might be surprised how many practitioners don’t touch, move, poke, look at the place the patient is complaining about. Morally, that’s just wrong. Ethically, it is too. Especially if you are billing an insurance company for an examination that you didn’t do, but said you did. Do you know how to perform specific orthopedic and neurologic tests? Do you perform range of motion testing? If you do, great! If you do not than you are doing a major disservice to your patient and practice.
3. GET THE DIAGNOSIS RIGHT
This is a “touchy” subject for many practitioners. Many say they don’t diagnose. If your patient has a complaint and you give it a formal name or attribute it to some “thing”, then yes you do. However, what if your patient’s complaint, let’s call it pain, has nothing to do with the area they are telling you about? Maybe they are complaining of neck pain but it’s actually stemming from a problem with the low back. How would you know if you are slacking on your case history and your examination?
4. DEVELOP AN INDIVIDUALIZED TREATMENT PLAN
If every patient that comes into your office is getting the same treatment day in and day out then you’ve gotten lazy and they will likely leave due to lack of results. Does this sound familiar? Patient comes into the office. After signing in, they sit on a wobble chair for 5 minutes. Afterwards they get stim and heat because they really put in some work on that chair. After stim and heat they get cervical, thoracic, lumbar and pelvis adjustments because that’s what you do. Every visit. Who is paying for these visits?
5. GO BACK TO SCHOOL
I’m not talking about “doing time” in the back of the room at the annual state association convention with your iPad or newspaper. I hate those guys. I am talking about taking a course that will actually improve your skills as a practitioner. Choose a seminar that is teaching something you are weak in. Maybe it’s billing, or evaluation. Maybe it’s a technique class. It really doesn’t matter as long as you leave with a skill set or idea that will improve your patient outcomes.
In retrospect, you probably knew all of this. In all honesty, if you were doing these things right, you wouldn’t have had to read this.