New Patients are the lifeblood of any chiropractic practice. New patients are critical for your expansion. An important factor to consider when talking about expansion is the quality of care you offer your existing patients. The primary reason to treat patients is to better their health. By focusing on the health of your current patients and following some simple acquisition rules for new patients, your practice will do well and flourish.
The most common new patient acquisition method is patient referrals. Did you know that every patient you see in your office presents an opportunity for you to market to eleven new people? Eleven is the average number of relatives, friends and acquaintances that an individual would feel comfortable referring to you. Everyone knows someone that is having a problem with headaches, backaches, stress or sleeping disorders. It is important that you incorporate this philosophy into your everyday practice and learn how to ask for these referrals. By doing so, you will be working smarter—not harder—and capitalizing on this opportunity. This will successfully grow your practice.
Another new patient acquisition method is marketing. First, let’s describe the word “marketing”. Marketing, by definition, is the function of getting the word out about your practice or business. We must “market” in order for chiropractic to expand. We must have an ongoing stream of new patients continuing to get well. Even the most philosophical chiropractor, must realize that marketing is critical in order for the field of chiropractic to hit the percentage of the population necessary for us not to market.
Talk to any one of your instructors back in school and they will tell you that chiropractors treat about 8-10% of the population. In reality, what you will find in your investigation is that this percentage has remained relatively unchanged for the last 50 to 75 years. This means that there has not been a dramatic change in the percentage of people seeking out chiropractic care over the years. We are treating 8-10% of the population, currently. We must get to a higher percentage, if chiropractic is going to become the number one health care choice.
Chiropractic is currently not the number one health care choice. This is because the public does not understand what we do as chiropractors. They are not aware of the benefits we offer. In order to change this, we have some work to do. We have to create market penetration so the public understands chiropractic. The only way for this to occur is with systematic application of tools introducing chiropractic to the public and the public’s accepting it.
When discussing marketing, there are two major categories to work on in order to improve your new patient enrollment: Internal Marketing and External Marketing.
Internal Marketing is any activity you can do inside your practice to improve the number of new patients you receive on an ongoing basis. This would include asking for referrals, conducting In-Office Workshops, holding Quality Control Consultations, and offering specialty programs. Most internal marketing programs are simple to implement. They, typically, follow a very systematic approach and are easy to duplicate. If they are scheduled and held on a weekly basis, your practice will expand. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle to their effectiveness is the fact that they are not conducted on a consistent basis. If they are scheduled, then cancelled or postponed, no growth benefits will be realized.
External Marketing activities are held outside your office. Some examples of external marketing activities are screenings, lectures, Patient Appreciation Days, health fairs, direct mail, television commercials, radio advertising and print advertising. Most of these activities require the doctor or staff member to physically leave the practice. While there is generally an additional cost associated with external marketing, you usually reach a much wider audience with your message. External marketing activities should be planned carefully so the cost of the activity does not outweigh the benefits you receive.
It is important to realize that marketing a product like chiropractic, which is not well understood by a large percentage of the population, works better when you use a variety of tools to communicate your message. There are many programs designed to help ease your level of work, while moving the concept of chiropractic into the public and helping overcome the fears that an individual might have about chiropractic care. Choose your programs based on your patient needs and the needs of the community in which you practice. This will help ensure that you grow your practice successfully. TAC
Dr. Maurice A. Pisciottano, CEO and founder of Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic, is a practicing chiropractor, noted lecturer, author, producer and research and development technologist. He is well known for his practice management expertise, as well as new patient development programs. He has devoted the past twelve years to the development of the instrumentation and the computerization of chiropractic treatment. Dr. Pisciottano has become a noted authority on the topic of Chiropractic Analysis and Treatment Systems. He travels the world over conducting speaking engagements on the topic. Since graduating from the Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1989, Dr. Pisciottano has built a successful multiple office practice in Western Pennsylvania. Dr. Pisciottano regularly teaches continuing education courses at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA, and at Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, MO. He can be reached at Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic, 1-877-942-4284.