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January, 2010

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.

Why Bother?

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:

  • You have the knowledge they need.
  • Information is flying at your patients from many sources; information that forms their health philosophy.
  • Your conversations can help expand their perceived value of you from a spine doctor to a full-fledged health and wellness doctor.
  • The majority of consumers are going to purchase health products whether or not you talk to them about it.

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?

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