As chiropractors, we all have had those patients come in, get adjusted and never come back in.
That’s especially painful when it’s a new patient, as you’re missing out on a lot of income because the patient only receives one treatment and leaves.
There’s no doubt that this has occurred to all of us, and it’s no doubt frustrating.
But how do we keep this from happening? And do we actually know how much it’s happening? Why does it happen?
Let’s begin with understanding why a new patient comes in and never returns after the first treatment.
The main factor that leads to a patient only attending one or two appointments is pre-disposition.
Many chiropractors struggle or forget to properly educate the patient on what chiropractic is and how a treatment plan works. Many also fail to give the patient a realistic expectation of results.
When a new patient comes into your office, it’s for a reason: They are in pain. Maybe they were referred to you, maybe they looked you up in a phone book, maybe they found you online. It doesn’t matter, the important thing is that they are coming to you for help with a problem.
Once this patient comes in for his or her first visit, what steps do you take to educate them about the treatment process? Do you expect them to already know and understand it?
If you’re failing to properly educate the patient, then you can almost guarantee they will not complete their full treatment cycle.
In fact, you should give them all of the facts before you ever treat them.
You MUST explain to the patient how you can help, why there is a treatment plan and give them realistic expectations for results. And this should be done during a consultation appointment, which is not immediately followed by a treatment. The treatment should come the next day.
By educating the patient and giving them realistic expectations, you build a bond and establish yourself as the healthcare expert in the room.
Let’s say Bob Smith is a new patient in your office and is coming in for the consultation today. Here’s some of the points that you should cover:
– What hurts?
– How long has it hurt?
– Do you know how you were injured?
– Has it been looked at before, and if so, what were you told?
– Here’s what I think is going on.
– This is how I plan to treat you.
– I expect this treatment to take approximately # of visits.
– During the course of the treatment, I believe that this is when you should begin to feel a noticeable relief.
– Following each treatment, you should ice the area every night.
– We’re going to set you up to come in for treatment every # of days for # of weeks.
– After # of visits, we will reevaluate your progress and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.
– With that being said, let’s schedule your first treatment for tomorrow.
By taking these steps in the consultation, you have now created a realistic expectation with the patient, rather than them creating their own unrealistic expectation.
If you follow this process in the consultation alone, you will see your retention rates rise.
Now the next question is how do you determine your retention rates?
I suggest using a Visit Drop Analysis worksheet, which you can download from the home page of this website by clicking HERE.
This sheet and instructions will allow you to calculate how many visits your new patients are actually coming to and when they are dropping off.
Here’s my suggestion to you. Before you begin working on enhancing your pre-disposition of the patients, do a visit drop analysis on your practice following the instructions from the download. Then implement the enhanced pre-disposition/consultation portion with all new patients that have yet to be treated. At the end of every week, do another visit drop analysis and you will begin to see that the number of visits for your new patients will rise and the percentage of those leaving will fall.
I understand this is just a brief overview, but this information should give provide you with the tools and knowledge to properly analyze your retention rates and help you understand why it’s imperative to ensure that all of your patients are completing their treatments.
To get more in depth education on this topic, I encourage you to visit www.growwithdrmoe.com and go to the events page and join me for one of our one-day events where we will cover this topic and many others in much much more detail, as well as introduce you to Mechanical Motion Therapy.
If you have any further questions, or would like a consultation, please call my office at 724-260-6060.