Many of the chiropractors I have worked with have expressed frustration that too many of their patients terminate their treatment prematurely. This can be a profound problem for chiropractors, as poor patient retention equates to an unstable practice. Below are 3 excellent strategies to enhance your patient education skills to create better, more compliant patients and enhanced clinical outcomes.
1 Transcend Symptomatic Care - This is one of the most crucial skills to develop. Think about the average patient who comes in for back pain. Unless educated effectively, most patients will identify exclusively with their symptoms. Because of this, they will perceive your ability to help them through a very narrow lens of symptomatic care.
The truth of the matter is that, in our modern world, the vast majority of us are holding onto a variety of imbalances, stressors, and health concerns. As a practitioner, you want to embrace a perspective on care that is broad enough to accomodate the entire spectrum of the patient's life. If they come in with the motivation to make their back pain go away, your goal is to probe a little deeper and see what the actual source of their pain and imbalance really is.
Yes, you still treat their back pain. But you formally educate them on how you can help with their total life experience. This is so critical that it can't be overemphasized. If this goal is not accomplished, the patient will inevitably cancel treatment after only a few visits. Whether their back pain is better or the same, they are out of your office. This dynamic is one of the main sources of burn out for chiropractors and other health practitioners.
2 Formally Educate Your Patients During Transitional Points In Care - Many patient will drop out of care after 5 or 10 treatments because they assume that you have done all that you can do for them--unless you educate them otherwise. As the patient's initial treatment plan is winding down, be sure to formally guide them into the next stage of care. Explain clearly to them why they should continue, and what will happen if the stop being proactive about their health. This way, you won't lose nearly as many patients during transitional times in the treatment process.
3 Write It Down - Make sure you give the patient written materials on their condition and your treatment plan that they can review and study. Educational forms and hand outs make the patient feel more comfortable, like they can trust you more. This includes a new patient welcome packet and treatment progress forms that you hand them during transitional times.
These strategies will greatly enhance your patient retention and create much greater stability in your practice. Good luck!