I was watching some professional baseball players warm-up before a game and it dawned on me. They’re doing the exact same thing I see the local little league players do. They were practicing the basics. I am sure every one of those players knew how to do the basics. But there they were, practicing them anyway.
My question for you is, are you a professional? If you are, are you practicing the basics? Are you mastering the basics?
Why is mastering the basics the single-most important topic? Because it will keep you focused on patient retention. By the end of your first year in practice, if all you did was focus on new patients (which are important) and you put little emphasis on mastering the basics, you will end up with a practice that is symptom based; one that will always need a constant source of new patients. You see, patient retention is the key to profitability. At the end of the day, you need to be profitable to stay in business. What do you think is the #1 reason businesses close? Failure to be profitable.
So let’s review the things you need to master so the new patients you work hard to get, stay with you for years to come.
Basic #1: Always start with the end in mind. You need to develop an attitude of knowing what you are trying to accomplish with everything you do. This is especially true for your office procedures & systems. So, keeping this in mind, let’s review the rest of the basics.
Basic #2: Mastering the Consultation & Exam. Not only do you need to get the clinical data to help the patient, but you need to also find out what to accomplish in the consultation & exam. You need to make sure you let the patient know what you are looking for so you can then report back to them in the clinical report of findings, if you find it. Are you looking for subluxations? Posture? What? Then, in the exam, let them know if what you are observing is indicating evidence of subluxations. "Mary, your posture shows your head is 2 inches forward. This indicates…." Another thing that should occur is an invitation of the patient’s spouse to attend the report of finding. Having the spouse at the report of findings is very important.
Basic #3: Mastering the Clinical Report of Finding (ROF) & Care Recommendations. The clinical report of findings is probably the most important part of the process to master. The spouse should be there. Let me cut right to the chase. The only thing that needs to be done in the ROF is to give the patient enough information for them to justify hiring you to help them. That’s it. This is not the time to teach them everything about chiropractic. This is not the time to scare them into care. This is the time to act as if you could care less. Not to say you do care less. But you can’t come off sounding like you need them more than they need you. The topic of the clinical ROF is a very large topic that cannot be fully explored here; but make sure you spend the time you need in mastering it.
Part of the ROF will be recommending care. The bottom line with recommending care is - Just do it! Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t say, "We’ll see you for a while and then I’ll let you know what we need to do." Patients expect you to know approximately how long it will take to get them well. So tell them the truth.
Basic #4: Mastering the Financial Presentation: Once master Basic #3, this becomes super easy. You see, when a patient is armed with the information they need to justify hiring you, presenting finances is not a challenge. By the end of the clinical report, you should be hearing the patient confirm that they want to get started with care. The next natural step is to review the financial plan you offer for them to pay for the services you’re recommending. Once the patient gives you the go ahead to discuss finances, the key here is to have a comprehensive financial plan that covers your entire treatment plan. You need to master creating a good payment plan.
Basic #5: Mastering Re-Evaluations: Doing re-evaluations is important for a variety of reasons. Of course, there’s the significance of monitoring the clinical changes your patient is making. However, that’s only part of their importance. Patients need to know that you know they’re making progress. Using an objective tool to measure their changes is crucial. Have you ever heard, "You go to a chiropractor, you go for the rest of your life," said in a negative way? Where do you think that comes from? It doesn’t come from the docs who show their patients why they need care and then show them the progress their making. It comes from the doc who rarely does re-evals and starts care by saying, "Let’s see you for a while and see how you do." You see, if a patient does not know how they are progressing, they will make their own assumptions. "I guess the doc just wants me to keep coming back." Patients have no problem committing and sticking to long-term programs of care, if they are monitored on a regular basis and shown that progress is occurring.
Basic #6: Transitioning to Wellness Care: The point when a patient has completed their initial corrective care program and is ready to transition to wellness care is one of the most common times a good patient will be lost. Why? Simply because you’re asking them to make a decision if they want to continue with care or not. It’s not that they don’t want to continue with wellness care. It’s that they have to make a purchase decision. They ask themselves, "Do I want to buy again?" This is especially true for offices where they primarily have patients pre-pay for 12-months of care at a time. Using an automated system with monthly payments nearly eliminates patients from dropping out at this time. (Consult state laws to verify pre-paying is an option for you).
Master these basics. Then make sure you practice them throughout your career. There will, no doubt, be times in your career where you just feel like things aren’t going as well as you wanted. Whenever I felt that way, I went back to reviewing and practicing these basics. They’ve never failed to get me back on track and they should do the same for you.
Dr. Miles Bodzin is the Founder & CEO of Cash Practice Inc., a web-based service company providing the Cash Plan Calculator®, Auto-Debit System® and Drip-Education® Email Marketing System. To learn more about how the Cash Practice® Systems can help your practice, visit www.CashPractice.com where you can get our Free Cash Practice® Mini-Course to learn even more. Dr. Bodzin can be reached at