Communication Leads to Better Results for Practice Growth
Patient Education
Written by Dr. Steven J. Kraus, D.C.   
Friday, 24 September 2010 09:02 Read : 744 times

Communication Leads to Better Results for Practice Growth

by Dr. Steven J. Kraus, D.C.

 

In today’s economy, doctors are constantly seeking low-cost methods to market their practices, retain patients and promote referral activity. Many look for traditional options, like advertising and networking activities, which can be effective but tough on the balance sheet.

However, doctors can begin to immediately implement one very effective and cost-conscious marketing approach which, when used correctly, will improve patient compliance and increase referrals. The method involves a very basic activity in which humans engage daily. So basic, in fact, that we often overlook it. The activity: Communication. Communication through strategic dialogue, an extremely productive marketing an today’s economy, doctors are constantly seeking low-cost methods to market their practices, retain patients and promote referral activity. Many look for traditional options, like advertising and networking activities, which can be effective but tough on the balance sheet. However, doctors can begin to immediately implement one very effective and cost-conscious marketing approach which, when used correctly, will improve patient compliance and increase referrals. The method involves a very basic activity in which humans engage daily. So basic, in fact, that we often overlook it. The activity: Communication. Communication through strategic dialogue, an extremely productive marketing in today’s economy, doctors are constantly seeking low-cost methods to market their practices, retain patients and promote referral activity. Many look for traditional options, like advertising and networking activities, which can be effective but tough on the balance sheet. However, doctors can begin to immediately implement one very effective and cost-conscious marketing approach which, when used correctly, will improve patient compliance and increase referrals. The method involves a very basic activity in which humans engage daily. So basic, in fact, that we often overlook it. The activity: Communication. Communication through strategic dialogue, an extremely productive marketing technique, is predicated on listening.

 

Patient

 

By listening to your patients, you can begin to ask questions based on the information provided. Through these questions, you can lead patients on a path to accepting your care by addressing their concerns more directly and helping them understand the overall treatment goals. Think about this example: Upon being presented with your treatment plan, the patient says, “I don’t think I want to have so many required visits to your clinic.” You may feel compelled to further justify your treatment plan by saying these repeat visits are necessary for the patient to see improvement. This is a one-way communication approach and leaves the patient out of the dialogue equation. And, by not asking why the patient feels this way, you are also jumping to conclusions. Perhaps the patient agrees with the treatment itself, but has scheduling issues that would make it difficult to attend so many appointments, or has concerns over the costs associated with the treatment. Instead of trying to convince the patient to accept the treatment plan as recommended, you can ask the patient, “What concerns you about the number of visits in your recovery plan?” By engaging the patient in this dialogue, you are better able to understand the underlying issue for the objection, and then work with the patient to identify a solution that is amenable to everyone. Ideally, you will continue asking carefully-crafted questions that ultimately lead the patient to suggest an appropriate solution on his or her own. How a product, service or treatment plan is presented is critical. If the topic feels forced or confuses the patient, he or she will likely reject it. But if the patient has the opportunity to express concern and then begins to understand the reasoning behind a recommendation, compliance increases. Consider if your patient actually suggested that he or she would like to engage in a course of care over the next month with a dozen treatments, and then follow up with a progress examination to see what further care might be needed; wouldn’t that send the message that the patient understood your report of findings? Yes, because the patient was empowered through your ialogue to accept the treatment plan on his or her own terms. The best marketing comes from listening more and talking less. Doctors tend to over-sell because they over-speak. They keep talking and talking, long after the patient either has understood the issue or tuned out. And what happens with overspeaking is that, often, issues are brought to the forefront that the patient hadn’t considered. This creates more questions, more confusion and less engagement from the patient. When a doctor listens to the patient first, focusing on carefully constructed questions to elicit a solution suggested by and acceptable to the patient, the relationship is tronger and more productive. Now, I am not suggesting that doctors allow patients to create their own treatment plans or determine what services they need but, rather, open up a dialogue that can lead patients to adoption of a recommended plan and better compliance. In summary, by asking follow-up questions to a given objection, the doctor can identify the true issue, and then begin to guide, not direct, the patient to resolution. Let the patient talk. By listening, the patient’s real concerns are revealed, and you and the patient can work collaboratively to reach a resolution. When patients feel they are part of the solution and are allowed to arrive at their own conclusions, a sense of control and satisfaction results. And a satisfied patient pays, stays, and refers.

 

Dr.Steven J. KrausDr. Steven J. Kraus is CEO of Future Health, Inc., a company that partners with chiropractors to deliver a comprehensive clinic management solution, including fullyintegrated EHR. Dr. Kraus is a recognized expert in building successful clinics, having developed and sold 18 practices of his own and provided strategic consulting services to more than 400 healthcare businesses. He offers leadership to numerous industry associations and currently serves as the Chairman of the Iowa Board of Chiropractic. Contact Dr. Kraus at skraus@Future- HealthSoftware.com for more information.


 
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