Seven Conversations You MUST Have with Every Patient
Would you rather your patients got health care advice from you, the under-qualified drug-store clerk or the local pharmacist?
By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher and Sandra Pearce
How many times a day does this happen? A patient leaves their chiropractors office, never having had a conversation with their doctor about their nutritional needs. Now thinking seriously about their health, that same patient proceeds directly to the grocery store (or pharmacy or warehouse store) and purchases a bottle of vitamins. They make their choice based on pure guesswork, or perhaps even worse, they rely on the opinion of a clerk who may have no clue as to the relative value or worthlessness of the product.
In effect, the one person who could have given them the most valuable and useful information their doctor of chiropractic - has aban-doned them in a time of need.
As lifetime chiropractic patients, we have almost 80 years of experience with a significant number of chiropractors. Almost all of these chiropractors had shelves stocked with vitamins, nutritional supplements, pillows, orthotics, and other sorts of therapeutic aids. Most of the time, sadly, these shelves were just gathering dust.
The chiropractic community speaks firmly and loudly about wellness. Yet when it really matters, in those one-to-one moments with patients, it has been our experience that it is the exception, not the rule, when our practitioners have given us serious consulta-tions about the very things that promote health and wellness.
A New Boldness
It is on this basis that we would like to encourage a new kind of boldness in your communications with your patients. Your patients are searching the Internet, asking their friends and watching nonstop drug commercials on television in an effort to manage their health. You really need to be part of the conversation.
Of course, there is the right way and the wrong way to have these conversations. This is probably where most DCs get hung up. They know what their patients need to hear; however, they just arent sure how to say it in a manner that will be well-received.
There are many reasons why you should be talking to your patients about more than just their spine. Here are some of the most important ones to consider:
Its How You Say It
Sometimes the hardest part of a conversation is the opening line. Starting with a question usually leads to a discussion. The well-educated patient will seek out a chiropractor who asks questions, has talks with them and makes recommendations. They will have their own opinions, but will also respect yours as a health care provider because they know you will be focused on their overall wellness. The patient new to chiropractic will also be receptive. So, when you ask a question, they will answer, and the conversation can start.
Who Knows Best?
You already positively affect the lives of your patients through your chiropractic adjustments. You relieve their pain, correct spinal issues and positively influence their quality of life. But are you doing all that you can? Are you taking advantage of the opportunity they are giving you to help them enjoy a healthier life on all levels?
You know your patients lifestyles, including their diet, supplementation (or lack thereof), exercise and behaviors that affect their health, positively and negatively. So heres our question to you:
Would you rather your patients got health care advice from you, from the under-qualified clerk at the drug store, or from the phar-macist who recommends a pill for their symptoms and knows nothing about the actual causes of what ails them?
Here are seven must-have conversations for you to have with your patients. These are just the beginning, but will lead you and your patients into a relationship whereby you are their first resource for all health care information.
As your conversations continue, they will be more specific to your patients stage of life and lifestyle. Some of your discussions will focus on what your patients need to hear, as opposed to what they want to hear. These conversations are much easier once you have established a trust relationship.
Keep a Chart of Your Conversations
Just as you note your other findings, keep a chart with the date of each health conversation you have with each of your patients. You can also note when the next conversation should take place. This will be especially important as your patients move into different stages of life and as they experience various health challenges. Over time, your health conversations will result in greater health and a much better quality of life for your patients.
For some examples of how to start these conversations, please see the role-playing scripts (right) we have provided.
To give you some ideas on how to set up and maintain a record of your must-have conversations, you can use a sample document that you can download and modify at www.dcpracticeinsights.com/downloads/conversationchart.doc.
Providing Quality Service and Opportunities
Many DCs are queasy about pushing products and services on their patients. Perhaps youre one of them.
However, consider this: Every time a patient walks through your clinic door, they are inviting you to talk with them about their general health and wellness. By accepting their invitation, and ethically providing them with the things that truly will improve their condition, you can ultimately help them live healthier lives.
Role Playing to Get The Conversation Started
Lets use some role playing as examples of how to get the conversations started. Mrs. Jones comes to you with pain in her mid-thoracic area, which is her usual primary complaint. Shes in a great deal of pain, so of course you address that first. There are also a few things other than her primary complaint that you know about her. She has poor posture, she carries things that are too heavy (like multiple bags of groceries), shes overweight, she doesnt exercise on a regular basis, and she takes an over-the-counter multi-vitamin.
Now you have an opening to discuss the home therapy equipment you carry.
This is your opportunity to discuss the pillows that you sell.
Now you can talk about the difference between what you offer and whats available in a retail store, as well as the difference in how they are processed.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.
Sandra Pearce is marketing manager for MPA Media.
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