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May, 2010

Patient Education Is Key to Consistency

By DCPI Staff

To help you enhance your practice and increase your bottom line, Dynamic Chiropractic PracticeINSIGHTS asks practicing DCs like you, for ideas and solutions that have been tested in real-world environments.

In this issue we asked: "What do you do in your practice to encourage your patients to enjoy the benefits of chiropractic care on a regular basis?"

This question generated a large response from our readers. The following is important insight and varied methods we found most useful in answering this question.

Patient Education

The overwhelming majority of you agree that the key to patients receiving chiropractic care on a regular basis is "patient education". Some of you educate your patients by comparing chiropractic treatment to the maintenance of valuable equipment. Similar to what Stephen Savoie of Florida writes:

"I simply explain to patients that the human body is the most complex piece of equipment on the planet. Like everything else we use, the body needs occasional tuning and maintenance. Unlike most other equipment, the body did not come with a maintenance manual or a maintenance schedule. We must provide this service if we expect the body to function properly for as long as possible."

Richard Theobald of San Diego focuses on specific functions of the body and how chiropractic can improve those functions:

"Educating them on the importance of spinal function, especially as it relates to muscle, bone, and joint health. Ultimately linking these areas to the nervous system and its role in overall health. To teach them to go beyond pain management and think in terms of wellness through improved function and how the routine application of adjustments achieves that objective."

Kahled Khorshid of Illinois teaches his patients about the dangers of skipping treatments:

"The best advice should be given in the first day of service by explaining the detailed road of recovery from acute care to wellness care. Explain that in the beginning course of treatment, there is a possibility that the muscles and ligaments may pull back the spine adjustment within 48-72 hours. We have to check frequently until we see spine stabilization. Then we space our services every week, then every two weeks and so on until a visit every six weeks (which is the ultimate need for wellness care)."

He tells the patient, "With rehab, it will be strong enough to hold the adjustment and your visit may take less than five minutes once every six weeks in the wellness care time, unless a new injury, God forbid, occurs. If the service dates are interrupted, we cannot reach the goal of pain-free care or wellness care. That will save you time and money, and you will not be vulnerable to acute attacks.

Dave Stannard of Alberta, Canada makes good use of his patients' time by educating them while they wait:

"I have set up a flat-screen TV in my waiting room, and I educate my patients on the benefits of chiropractic care and the services that I provide."

Respect Your Patients

Once your patients understand the benefits of chiropractic, they are more inclined to seek care on a regular basis. However, some of you added that treating your patients with respect is essential to keeping them as your patient.

Bill Lange of Illinois cautions chiropractors to respect the patient's intelligence while educating them: "[T]he most important thing that a practitioner can do to help patients/people enjoy and benefit from regular chiropractic care is to let them know. Sounds simple but ... given the knowledge that people have about our profession, it must be presented in an easy-to-understand, non-dogmatic, non-obviously sales-oriented way. It must be logical and, importantly, given in a written and verbal platform. The practitioner must be acutely aware of the person(s) innate ability to sense a ploy that is more aimed at fulfilling the practitioner's needs rather than the patient's."

Mario Fucinari of Illinois believes that along with patient education, it is important to respect your patient's time.

"We make a concerted effort to stay on time. When you are on time, the patient does not look at it as an imposition on their time. When they have less inconvenience, they keep their appointments."

Affordable Rates

While patient education is the key to consistency, some also noted that finances play a major role in regular attendance.

Dan Macumber states that although some of his patients know they should come on a regular basis, they simply can't afford to. "Just today, I spoke with or educated a patient about what chiropractic could do. He is a current patient, but he wanted to know if I could help his wife. He believes in, and has felt the joy of the benefits of chiropractic, but it still comes down to 'do I pay my co-pay or do we put food on the table.' That is a common theme. My patients will tend to come in only when they feel it is dire, versus whether they will enjoy it as a secondary matter."

Larry Spiller of Washington finds success in using a pre-paid plan. He writes, "Very briefly, I provide a pre-paid wellness plan for individuals and families. The plan is affordable. After a period, the majority of adults will bring in their family. Keep it affordable, straightforward, quick."

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