Imagine how simple it would be to report your findings if all of your new patients came with a USB port. Then all you would have to do is stick in a flash drive and transfer your findings along with the appropriate studies validating your recommendations. Well that day may come but not fast enough to make a difference in your practice right now. If you want more new patients you must take your good patient communication skills and make them great.
The problem with most Report of Findings is that they don’t work. They fail to get results for the patient. Allow me to repeat that statement, “They fail to get results for the patient.” Most reports do not cultivate trust, deliver meaning or move the patient to follow through. Reports too often leave the patient dazed and confused and a confused mind always says no. This has real consequences for both you and your patients. The patient misses the opportunity to get the care they want and you lose the opportunity to serve!
You probably think (hope) that getting a patient to accept your recommendations is pretty straight forward. You gather the history, do the appropriate exams, formulate a plan and boom they start care. And of course the most famous bromide of them all, “They stay, pay and refer.” Too often reports are heavy on facts and light on human touch. Data-dumping does not get the results the patient needs. A doctor-centered report of findings focuses on what the doctor needs to say. A patient-centered approach focuses on what the patient needs to hear, it “relates” to the patient.
Stop reporting your findings and start “Relating Your Findings” using the following three steps.
- Personalize the report
- Give the patient your best recommendation
- Make the decision process easy
Personalize every report.
Begin your presentation with, “As I understand it, the most important thing for you right now is to be able to_____.” Never use dogmatic platitudes like “You need to come for the rest of your life,” or weak avoidance tactics like “If you’re not better after five adjustments then chiropractic won’t work for you.” Both are cookie cutter one size fits all positions.
Make your best recommendation your only recommendation.
Interpret the examination findings then stand firmly upon your clinical opinion, best available evidence and experience to date. This is your point of view; you are the expert. Is it always right? Of course not, but it is the best you can do with what you know right now. Changing your recommendation during the report when you sense resistance is not patient-centered. It is, in fact, doctor-centered and fear driven behavior. Too often the fear of being criticized, or the need to make everyone happy makes us people pleasers not patient leaders.
Make the decision process easy
You must make the decision process easy. Address the patient’s problem in the context of how it is limiting their life. Make the cause of their symptoms tangible. Instead of saying misalignments are caused by toxins, thoughts and trauma, tell them exactly what you think. As an example you could say, “Spinal misalignments can occur as a result of accumulated stress and injuries. In your case I suspect ____.” And make the care plan simple. As an example, “In order to get the results we are both looking for you will need a concentrated course of care over the next ____”
The reality is that patient non-compliance is a source of frustration for all health care providers. Yet chiropractors need to be better because our margin for error is a whole lot less. People always pay for services they value and value the services they pay for. And in today’s stingy economy, chiropractic care needs to be affordable and valued. You can take charge of your practice but only if you take responsibility for your role in patient non-compliance.
Your SIDECAR Team