The chiropractic practice is growing steadily in America and other western nations. With over 22 million people visiting chiropractors in America each year, it shows that people appreciate the effect of the care that chiropractors offer their patients. However, in recent times, many chiropractors have been experiencing empty waiting rooms, cancellation of scheduled appointments and patients who refuse to book for their follow-up visits. If you desire to retain more of your patients and get them to return to complete their scheduled care, the following tips and ideas will be of great value to you.
1. Are You Hurting Your Patients?
While treating a patient, some reactions can occur after a chiropractic adjustment. The most frequent reaction is soreness in the spinal muscles and joints. In most cases, this reaction occurs and fizzles out within 24 hours after the spinal manipulation. However, for some patients who have serious personal injuries or those who believe that chiropractic treatment is painless, these reactions may be perceived as severe. So you should do all you can to minimize pain. An ice pack can be used to relieve symptoms of soreness or aches in the spinal muscles and joints.
As a trained and licensed chiropractor, you must bear in mind that the essence of treatment is to provide progressive relief and recovery for your patients. So you should avoid any form of adjustment, particularly neck manipulations, that can lead to serious complications that will create more pain than you are trying to relieve. You must realize that patients are now more enlightened and they want to experience rapid relief from their symptoms. So you need to take some time to enlighten your patients about the true nature of chiropractic care and how it will help them experience full recovery over a period of time.
2. Do Your Patients Know They Should Return?
Ensure that your patients are specifically told and encouraged to return for their next appointment. This may not seem like a vital point, but one of the most common causes of an empty waiting room is that patients did not know they had to come back for further care. Don’t assume they will know. Be sure to tell them to come again. When your patients come in for their first visit, let them see a personalized calendar with a schedule of care that will make them feel important.
By making this kind of customized calendar for your patients, it portrays your commitment and convinces them of the importance of their next visit. It enables them to see a fruitful future with you, and it makes it more difficult for them to quit using your services before the end of the treatment schedule. Before they leave your office, they should go with a schedule that shows the exact date for their next appointment. Let your staff enter these dates into an electronic and physical calendar. Then, at the end of each visit, make sure you emphasize the next appointment.
3. Educate Patients With Digital Media Tools
Patient satisfaction is the key to patient retention. If your clients are happy with the quality of your service, they will like to return to complete the schedule for treatment. Many patients derive their satisfaction from learning all they can about their condition. They want you to reveal all you have discovered during their initial visits and tell them the reasons why they have to come back many times to enjoy long-term recovery.
One of the best ways to educate your patients is by using visual aids. Apart from the commonly used 3D models, drawings and charts, you should also make use of video and multimedia educational tools and patient portals that will enhance the learning experience of your clients. Patients will choose a chiropractor that is tech-savvy over one that is not. They will be glad to see you use tablet PCs to provide details about their condition and show them the stages they will pass through till they experience a full recovery. When they know the details about their condition, they will be willing to commit themselves to a full treatment schedule.
4. Follow-Up With Your Patients Consistently
Following up your patients after their first visit will help you build a relationship with them and create a bond that will make them stay with you till their treatment procedure is over. Follow-up will also help you to get feedback about the effectiveness of your first session of treatment. Your patients will tell you how they are feeling and give an assessment of their experience with your practice.
Patient follow-up works best by phone within the first three days after every visit. Find out whether they understood the instructions you gave and how they are complying with the instructions. If you usually send a newsletter or follow-up email to your patients, you can also let them know on the phone. Let your patients know that their subsequent visits will be shorter than the initial ones without sacrificing the effectiveness of treatment.
5. Make Chiropractic Care a Need
A top secret to effective chiropractic marketing and retention of patients is to create in your patients a very strong desire for thorough chiropractic care. In fact, if you can change the mindset of your patient from a quick relief seeker to a wellness and total health seeker, your patients will keep coming for a regular check up after completing their treatment. Once your patient stops seeing your practice as a one shot type of solution, like visiting a general practitioner and receiving an injection and a prescription, you will be able to get them to see the reason why they should continue to come back, even if they feel relieved after the first visit.
The best time to create this mindset is during the marketing campaign to your prospective patients. Use patient education and other marketing techniques to project the total health benefits of your practice. Let them see how your practice can help them maintain a very sound state of health if they regularly come for treatment and checkups. These patients will be more likely to stay with you until they receive the full benefits you spoke about while marketing your service.
6. Adopt More Flexible Working Hours
To get more patients into your waiting room, you may not need more than a few adjustments to your work schedule. From your conversations with your patients, you will discover that a fairly large proportion of your clients do not come from your immediate neighborhood. Some may even have to travel up to 25 miles to enjoy your services. So when you ask them to come for repeat visits, the thought of commuting for so many miles to come for treatment could make them stay away. If you pay attention to the reasons why your patients cannot keep up with their follow-up appointments, you will discover that one of the most prominent reasons is difficulty with arriving at your office at the set time for their treatment.
A brief survey on this issue will reveal a lot about your patients’ work schedules. Many of them work irregular hours and will have to travel long distances to get to your office at the right time. So get ready to make a few changes. For instance, you may have to work for a few hours on Saturdays if you are not already doing so. You may also need to stay for an extra 30 minutes to one hour on another day of the week that many of clients will like to come and receive treatment.
7. Tell Your Patients About Upcoming Events
Tell your clients about the future action steps, events and accomplishments that take place in your office. This will help them see themselves as a part of a successful practice. Tell them about events, like patient appreciation meetings, months in advance. When you are planning to acquire new equipment, technology or new products, ask them to tell you how they feel about it. If you bring them into the deliberations about how to move your practice forward, you are helping your patients see themselves as regular clients in the near future. This also tells them that you value their opinions and their patronage.
In addition, you should communicate about the growth of your practice as it happens. The more your clients get to know about your accomplishments, the more trust they will put in you and your service. So tell your patients when your staff successfully finishes a major training course or seminar. Let them know when you finally acquire a new piece of technology or when you make a major upgrade to your equipment or systems. You should do this at least once every quarter through a newsletter in electronic or print format.
8. Build a Solid Reputation in Your Community
Reputation marketing is a well-known marketing technique that produces steady results both online and offline. The majority of people who search online for local chiropractor services are more likely to see a directory review rather than your website. Also, most people who want to come to your office will look for online reviews about your practice even after getting a good referral from a satisfied customer.
If you are fully committed to giving the best service to your practice members, and they tell you how much their health has improved because of your care, you should let your entire community know about it. Promoting your reputation as a competent chiropractor will make the community see you as a trusted local authority. Then many other new members will gladly come to enjoy your service. In practical terms, this means you should put the reviews, comments, and testimonials of your satisfied members in front of new leads and prospects online.
9. Put Yourself in Your Patient’s Shoes
A very effective way to continuously improve patient retention is through role playing. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and act like a customer, from the first contact a client has on the phone until the customer leaves your office after treatment. You can schedule time for various patient encounters. Be prepared to be as critical as possible. Be very observant and note anything that you are not pleased about. Your role playing should cover greetings from your front desk, encounters in the waiting room, exam room, and billing department.
Spend time sitting like a patient in the reception area and listen carefully to your employees. Assess the comfort of your seating arrangement and take a look at the kind of literature that your patients read. Take some time to fill out the paperwork required of new patients – is it easy to do or full of redundancies? Wear a robe and stay in the exam room, do you feel comfortable? Do you feel that you had to wait for too long? After such a role-playing exercise, you will be filled with new ideas on how to improve your service to make your patients feel like returning after each visit.
10. Use a Third Party to Obtain Honest Information
To improve your service and retain your patients, you need to receive constant feedback about the quality of your services. But many of your patients will not want to hurt you. So they will tell you that they appreciate you and your care without mentioning some of the things they really dislike or areas where they would like you to make changes. You may not receive a balanced view of your services if you ask the questions by yourself.
The key to obtaining sincere answers is to get a third party to ask the questions for you. You may choose a trusted employee or an external party to help you obtain honest answers. Research has shown that patients will provide more sincere answers when the person asking the questions is a third party. The most important question your questioner should ask is what can the doctor and his team do to serve you better? As long as you can discover the patient’s perceived values you should be able to improve your services in the eyes of your patients and retain them.
You will increase your patient retention by applying the tips offered here. As long as you keep improving the quality of your service and make your patients feel great each time they come to you, they will return and spread the word about your practice.