Over the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work with some brilliant Chiropractors. As per the nature of the profession, DC’s are warriors in what they do. They keep working hard with chiropractic education, marketing, managing a business, managing staff, finding explanations to health problems for thousands of patients, learning how to get better for themselves, for their practice and much, much more. Chiropractors do all this for one single purpose: restoring their patients’ health to their best. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the first perception for new patients. For most of them, it could be their first time in a chiropractic office. For others, it may be a second trial, as the first chiropractor, in the patient's perception, did not meet their expectations. For other new patients, they have tried everything else and nothing has worked, so they decide to go and give a try to chiropractic. I am using the word "try," because they have much more doubt than faith. So the doctor has to go through a convincing period of explaining what they do, how long it will take, show the new patients testimonies from other patients and you know what? Many new patients still don’t accept care. I have witnessed many DC’s having to deal with this on a daily basis when what they really want to do is treat the patients and give them a good quality of life.
You are a great doctor and you know you can help the patients, but this will happen only if they give you a chance. On many occasions, the patient’s mind is already made up before you even say a word. As everyone knows, you never get a second chance to build a positive first impression. This is also true in chiropractic. The first time new patients comes to your office is probably when they will decide to follow your care or not. Creating a strong positive first impression is crucial in getting the new patients under care and growing a chiropractic office. Doctors have more tools than they think they have to make this great first impression. On many occasions, the patients make their decision of whether to accept care within the first few minutes when they walk in the office, not when they first meet the doctor. Their decision is based on how the office looks, how friendly the staff is, how technically advanced the office is, and other factors when they sit in the waiting room.
In many very successful practices I have been in, this first impression starts with a very well organized guided clinic tour, so the doctor takes control over this first impression. As the new patients walk through the clinic, they build their own opinion. It is much better to tell the patients what is going on, rather than to let them guess. This clinic tour has to be well-planned. The first step in creating this plan is to make an inventory of what is different, unique or better about your clinic. Ask yourself why a patient would want to start care rather than go somewhere else. Look for things like the doctors accolades, types of therapies available, technological advances in your practice, like EHR systems or digital X-Rays. Imagine yourself as a patient going to the dentist. When you walk in, what would you want to see: a grumpy assistant with piles of paper, an old sign-in sheet that has been just flipped over to a new day, an old chair with files around it? Or would you rather see a happy assistant, with no paper around, a clean desk and at the dental chair, you can see your mouth digital X-Ray and detailed documentation on a computerized station? Which of these offices would you want to start care with?
Most great clinic tours start with the CA explaining to the new patients the first day process. If your clinic is using an automated paperless system and you give each patient a bar coded Chiropractic Health Card, the success of this tour gets much easier. You start the tour by giving the Chiropractic Health Card to the patients and you explain the automated process they will follow on each treatment. The concept is to make the patients feel like they are already your patients. In other words, they are in until they are out, instead of out until they are in. The CA then walks the patients around the clinic. The first stop may be in the therapy room, where the CA will explain the therapy process. The CA will explain that the office is equipped with the latest technology to help them in achieving health. The second stop may be to the X-Ray room, to show the patients that this on-site X-Ray machine will provide the doctor with precise information on the cause of the pain. Walk the patients in one of the treatment rooms. Again, take the opportunity to explain to the patients that the EHR you are using is so advanced that the doctor will have the patient’s X-Rays on the computer screen on all visits. You may take an extra minute or two to explain to the patients all the great information available to the doctor on the EHR screen. This is a direct transfusion of trust in the patient’s mind. Patients will feel the doctor is very well organized to provide the best care possible. At the end of the tour, back at the front desk area, hand out literature or pamphlets explaining what you do. Well-planned and well done, this clinic tour will impress new patients and will build confidence. This is the goal. If you give your patients a proper office tour, they will be so impressed with your office, they will tell other people. If you are excited about your practice, it will be much easier to get your patients excited, too. When you install a new X-Ray machine, a new therapy tool or new automated EHR software, it is very easy for the doctor and the staff to be excited and pass it on to the patients. The hard part is to keep that excitement over time. And I am not talking about weeks, but years. All very successful doctors I know are more excited now about their practice, their staff and their office then when they first started.
This tour is quite simple to implement and it really works. Create a great first impression and make it much easier for patients to accept your care.