Chiropractors must learn to delegate. They must hire the right people to assist them. Even a few hours a day delegating tasks allows the doctor to focus on one of the most important assets of the practice: patients. Failing to delegate can only lead to business failure. You simply cannot be a jack of all trades.
Without sounding too fundamental, every practice is built on the number of patients scheduled and examined. However, much like any businesses, there are many rescheduled or canceled appointments. Yet I often find that if the chiropractor is busy or the staff lacks proper training, patients are never called to reschedule their missed / cancelled appointments. This is one of the easiest things to miss in any chiropractic practice, but it can have serious consequences in terms of your bottom line.
For example, a doctor I'll call "John" recently had 22 appointments in a week canceled and none of them were rescheduled. That is missed income, pure and simple.
The only way to mitigate the cancellation problem is to ensure that patients are asked to reschedule if they call in the cancellation; or in the event that they simply don't show up on time, that they are called immediately after a missed appointment to get it rescheduled.
There is technology available that allows you to confirm appointments with the use of text messaging, e-mails or even voice mails to remind patients. These tools cut labor on your part and reduce opportunities for patients to miss appointments.
In addition, chiropractors should develop and implement a clear canceled appointments policy. Your time is valuable and when a patient misses an appointment, it is essentially as if two patients cancelled, because someone else may have called for that same time slot. Moreover, it dismisses the value of your time and expertise.
Ron is a chiropractor who, after eight years, built a practice of approximately 100 patients per week. But currently, he is only seeing 22.
After some mystery shopping, it was discovered that patient service is not top of mind. In fact, it was his poor patient service that caused his volume to drop over 80 percent.
No matter what, patient service has to be the primary emphasis of every practice. Patient services must be enculturated into the entire practice. This begins with hiring the right people, as well as having a doctor who is concerned with total patient care from the inside and out.
Telephones must be answered on the second ring, e-mails must be answered within six hours and staff must clearly understand that patients are not an interruption of the practice, but the very purpose of it! Additionally, confirmation of appointments, handling of insurance claims and ensuring that all paperwork is submitted timely is all part of the patient experience and must be prioritized.
Finally, your patient experience begins with the Report of Findings, so make certain that patients know how much you care from the moment of their first treatment.
Practices need not fail if the proper protocols and procedures are installed.
Chiropractors today must be more proactive in protecting their practices from demise. This includes installing sound strategies that provide adequate foundation so the practice remains above water during good and bad times.
But the only way to ensure that your practice never fails is to remain on top of it. Your practice is not an avocation, but an occupation that must be protected daily. Never should any chiropractor walk into a situation and say, "How did I get here?" With the proper systems your practice should never have to worry about dealing with any warning signs. Rather than just survive, you will thrive, no matter what!
Dr. Drew Stevens is the author of Practice Acceleration and more than 700 articles on chiropractic practice strategy. For additional information, visit his Web site at www.stevensconsultinggroup.com or call him at (877)391-6821.