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March, 2011

Increase Revenue With Service

By Christie Bondurant

To help you enhance your practice and increase your bottom line, Dynamic Chiropractic PracticeINSIGHTS asks practicing doctors of chiropractic, like you, for ideas and solutions that have been tested in real-world environments. In this issue, we asked: What is the best thing you've done to increase your practice revenue?

Service: Meeting Your Patients' Needs

Based on the responses received, most doctors felt that the number-one way to increase practice revenue was to focus on their patients' needs. From working on Saturdays to acting as a health coach, these doctors explained that providing great service is key to retaining and attracting clients, thereby increasing their profits.

For example, Dr. Angelo Santin of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, takes a purely patient-centered approach to increasing his bottom line. He explains: "The best thing I've done to increase my practice revenue is, through the expertise of a coach/mentor, realize that revenue, referrals, new patients, are all a by-product of services rendered. This means I have focused entirely on patient needs. Meeting the patient needs, building my own confidence in chiropractic with learning and practice experience have led me to a very successful practice.

"No gadgets, no advertising, no marketing necessary.

I built my entire practice from scratch in three years with the help of a coach by focusing on patient needs, telling the chiropractic story, and having confidence in chiropractic and the adjustment," Santin said.

Going Above and Beyond

Dr. Art Walker of Portland, Ore., provides service for those patients who find it difficult to visit their doctor during the work week. "Work Saturday morning," Walker says.

"So many people are stuck in the work-work paradigm, they will not take time for themselves during the week. They will fill your office on Saturday. Every new practitioner, particularly, should work Saturday morning. You can always take a half day off during the week," he said.

Going above and beyond the patient's expectations was common among the answers related to patient service. But as Dr. Steve Engen of Kearney, Neb., states, gaining a patient's trust is crucial to repeat business.

"You will make patients for life when you show them that you care about their life. You must be their doctor if you want to earn their trust and repeat business," he said.

"I once had a mother bring in her daughter, who had just fallen off a swing set with a grossly deformed forearm simple fracture. [The mother] told me, 'I'm pretty sure you can't fix this, but I know you will tell me where we should go to get the best care.' She was right; I didn't try to 'fix' it, but I did know where she needed to take her little girl for urgent care.

"A few days later, I called her to check on the girl, and was thanked over and over for my small part in her initial care. At that time, I told the mom that the girl had possibly suffered other injuries in the fall that should be checked as well. She understood and brought the girl in for a check-up and as-needed care.

"By the time she got her cast off, all that was left for us to do was a short rehab program to restore here arm strength and motion. All ended up well.

"We are restricted to treat within our state scope of practice, but we take an oath to be our patients' doctor (teacher, advisor, health coach, trusted friend) no matter what their diagnoses are," Dr. Engen said. "As the great Dr. Fred Barge used to say, 'Enough said.'"

Textbook Tactics

While most doctors responded with a purely patient-centered approach to increasing their revenue, others, such as Dr. Thomas Ivey of Aberdeen, S.D., relied on popular textbook strategies Ivey provided an overall summary of the tactics he uses:

"Ten years of group marketing with all other DCs in my community and reading, implementing, and performing E&M procedures on established patients for new episodes of care for a recurring condition, new injuries/new diagnosis, or for resuming care for a condition after an extended lapse without care (greater than three months) in the way they are designed to be used - in all patients including Medicare [patients] - in addition to routine new patient examinations and periodic progress examinations for conditions requiring extended care.

"[And] get and read the ACA's Clinical Documentation Manual. It may change the way you practice!"

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