Fifteen years ago, a DC told me, “In a perfect world the best patient education would be self extinguishing.” Why? “Because everyone would always understand where health comes from and would demand chiropractic care.”
The world is still far from perfect. Just last week I heard of a “healthy” 45-year-old who woke up with heartburn and a headache. He treated it the way his TV and pharmaceutical companies told him. He took pills for the heartburn, but it didn’t go away. He treated the symptoms rather than seeking professional help. The next morning he didn’t wake up, because he had had a massive heart attack.
As you know, the “symptom vs. cause” canyon is deep and wide, but it is being successfully traversed by many enterprising and persistent chiropractors. How? They use materials that communicate instantly, are in perfect harmony with their philosophy, and their message is repeatedly reinforced.
To cross this great divide, you must somehow get the first rope across. Whether you throw it, or climb into the canyon pulling it behind you, without that first line, you cannot build a bridge. On the other side stand your patients solidly rooted in symptom relief dogma. You stand on your side resolutely poised to teach them your “truth”. Sometimes it seems that you’re both so very far away.
So, go ahead. Start by throwing them a “life line”. Acknowledge their initial complaints with visuals and discussion about how successful chiropractic can be at helping with complaints just like theirs. Show them that you recognize that their pain was motivating them to find you in the first place. Once they’ve arrived on your side, you can make the bridge strong and sturdy with posters, models, electronic nerve charts, and videos, plus passive and interactive computer software. Remember to take advantage of their ability to explore pamphlets, videos and, especially, computer programs and games at home, on their own. These lay a great foundation for family involvement.
In your office, a strong ROF(Report Of Findings) is the basis for their understanding and acceptance. It is here that you shift their primary focus from pain relief to a, “Let’s keep this from getting worse,” mentality. And, finally, “Now, let’s keep your improvement.” Either electronic wall charts or computer programs will show them, not only the type of symptom that they are currently experiencing, but, also, on a performance level, what muscles might be impacted by those same subluxations. The most useful visual aids will simultaneously show them how the organs rely upon a clear and functioning nerve system for proper expression of health.
Your group orientation helps smoothly pave the bridge’s surface while saving time in getting your message out more effectively. A great way to do this is with some dramatic visuals. Traditionally, flip charts have been very useful for this; but, with the advent of inexpensive computer monitors and projectors, it is much more exciting and memorable to use graphics and animations that “come to life”. It’s easy, too. Good interactive and customizable software takes you “by the hand”, making talks lively, fun and virtually effortless.
For ultimate success in getting the public across to your side, you must have an office environment that is inviting, modern and congruent with your philosophy. This provides the comfortable vehicle for their journey with you. Daily or, at least, weekly topic discussions that are team delivered will keep your bridge full of traffic and constantly moving along.
You must earn the right to teach your patients that there is something better than just symptom relief. The only way that you can do that is by starting where they are now. Make sure that you have patient education tools that demonstrate the health potential reduction and life stealing effects of subluxations left uncorrected. Build rapport and then present the chiropractic solution. This is how you shift their paradigm and help them cross the canyon and stay there.
Bruce Goldsmith is President of Visual Odyssey. He invented the Neuropatholator® wall chart systems in 1976, and has been making chiropractic patient education tools, including the very popular SHO® flip chart, ever since. You can reach Bruce at 800-541-4449 or 770-646-8031. For more information, visit www.chirocharts.com.