While many things contribute to a successful, thriving practice, and all are important, I would like to share with you how you can take your office visit to the next level by addressing more than just the physical issues with your patients.
This is a non-technique-dependent way to make sure that your office visit is top notch. (It is truly independent of your adjusting technique; however, I am not trying to indicate your technique should not be precise and effective. I encourage you to continually strive to be more specific and always move toward perfecting your adjusting technique.)
I am sure we have all experienced this ourselves or have seen other examples of chiropractors who were incredibly competent on a technical level, but could not communicate the message of chiropractic well to patients and therefore, did not have a thriving practice. In contrast, we have also seen chiropractors who would not claim to be great technically, but have large, thriving practices.
This office visit system has been developed, tested, tweaked and perfected over the years. It is not just something thrown together that has worked for a few doctors or has been developed based on the latest fad. It is not something new, by any means, but is based on solid principles that have worked for thousands of chiropractors over the past 50-plus years and still work just as well today.
I think most would agree that, as chiropractors, we are addressing something on the physical realm with every patient visit. Regardless of technique, we all address the physical. Here are some things
to keep in mind in your interactions with patients if you want to take patient visits to the next level.
Educating Your Patients
First, the patient must be aware of the need or reason for them to be in your office. This can be accomplished in numerous ways, such as pointing out tightness, tenderness, decreased motion or imbalances.
Second, the patient needs to be aware that something has happened. This can be as simple as asking a question such as, "Did you hear that?" or, "Did you feel that?" or just making a statement, such as, "We sure moved that, didn't we?" These are just a few ways to make sure the patient is aware something happened.
The third point that must be addressed physically is probably the one that you are missing, if in fact, you are lacking any of the physical points. This is getting the patient to admit something has changed. This can be accomplished by asking the patient if they are moving easier, feel more free or feel any difference. Notice we didn't ask if it felt better. Don't put yourself in that corner, because what if it doesn't feel better at that moment? Many times it may feel looser, easier to move or different, even if they are still experiencing pain. Like the previous two points, there are many ways to help the patient understand and acknowledge they notice a change.
Just those three points being implemented, along with your solid technical skills, will enhance office visits. However, if you want a great, thriving practice, you have to go beyond just the physical aspects of the adjustment. Regardless of technique, you can get better results with your patients if you incorporate two other points into your standard office visit. You must address the patient's mind and the soul, or address them mentally and spiritually. Trust me, this is not going to get all religious or crazy; this can be done very simply and efficiently on each visit.
The Mind and Soul
Taking care of the mind is accomplished by simply having the patient laugh or at least smile during the visit. No, you do not need to have a stand-up comedy act. You can elicit a chuckle or smile by using short quips, one-liners, and just being lighthearted and upbeat. People love happy people who radiate with laughter and optimism.
Let me ask you this: If it were possible to have two identical patients with identical subluxations, and you were able to deliver two identical adjustments, restoring the proper nerve function in both patients, but one left your office frowning and negative while the other left your office smiling and positive, could you predict which one would get the better results? Yes, that's an easy one, isn't it? The chiropractor who is helping their patients laugh, smile and feel positive will get better results. (I do have a word of caution here: Do not tell long jokes. It hurts your efficiency.)
The last point is addressing the patient's soul or spiritual side. This is not going to get religious. Quite simply, find a way to give them hope. How do you give them hope? Nothing gives more hope than the chiropractic story. Talk to your patients about the power their body has to heal itself and how the nervous system is the master controller of all function. Tell them about chiropractic cases and testimonials. Help them understand the benefits of a nervous system that is working at its full potential. Maybe they will get the "Big Idea" and live the chiropractic lifestyle like you!
Of course, hope isn't the only thing you can use; there are others including love and faith. You should love chiropractic, love your patients and love your practice. And if you are giving your patients hope, faith will be built as they experience the results.
That gives us five points to cover on each visit: three physical points that obviously have to be in sequence and two points for addressing the mind and soul, which can be intermingled before, during or after the three physical points.
A Personal Story
I want to include a personal story that absolutely gives solid proof of this system. To keep this simple, I had a solid technique, great philosophy and had incorporated the five points discussed into our office procedures and protocols. I had a great associate doctor who, like me, was solid technically, and philosophically, and was using the five-point office visit. I still remember the first time I took a week out of the practice and allowed my associate to see all my patients for the week. Everything went great, my associate was fantastic and well-trained in our system; and since our techniques were totally instrument-based, it certainly eliminated some of the variance in the delivery of the adjustment itself.
Upon my return, I was seeing my patients and addressing how their visits had gone with my associate. One particular patient, who had been a regular patient for several years, came in and I stated that I had heard her visit with my associate had gone very well; upon which the patient replied, "Yes, it went OK, but he is not as good at adjusting as you are."
I stopped immediately to address this and pointed out to the patient that since we use instruments for the adjustment (and looking at the record, the associate had detected and adjusted the same segments that I had previously) that his adjustment could not have been subpar to mine.
That is when the proof factor hit the air. The patient said, "Well, that's not what I mean; your gab is better than his." So, there it was for me. Yes, the "gab," as the patient called it, or addressing the mind and soul, was better in my office visit than it was when my associate adjusted. Notice what the patient had originally said: "His adjustment wasn't as good as yours." The patient had grown accustomed to having all five points addressed and the "non-physical" points did make a difference.
To be fair, my associate did not have the experience or relationship I had with the patient, so he was certainly at a disadvantage. But the associate and I both knew what he had to do to improve his office visit, and it was not improving the technical side of the adjustment. He needed to get better at the addressing the mind and the soul.
If you become a master of these points, you will get better results, more referrals and your practice will grow. As I indicated, you need to be as good at your adjusting technique as possible, but you can make it better just by going beyond the physical. You will be going the second mile and giving patients more than they expect. When you are giving more than expected, you are sowing good seeds that will reap a harvest.
Dr. Todd Osborne graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1989 and went into private practice in 1991. Dr. Osborne retired from active practice in 2004 to put his full efforts into helping other chiropractors to realize their potential by becoming a part of AMC, Inc., for which he currently serves as vice president. Dr. Osborne resides in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area with his family.