Why your patients leave part 1

It’s a long time since I’ve been to Nancy’s burgers and fries. If you used to read the blog on the old site you would know I was always there but I’ve been doing intermittent fasting and so the timing didn’t work out. If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting for you or your patients then we have a podcast for that coming up soon.

So I used to be a daily customer (Beyond veggie burger) and then for no known reason to them I just stopped coming one day.

Have you ever had a regular patient just stop coming? How did you feel? Did you wonder what you had done wrong? Did you make some changes based on your assumptions? How did you feel and react when you saw them again?

Well sometimes it is true when a patient says that they were too busy. Life gets in the way and maybe something big came up. In most cases it’s not that you did anything wrong it was just a change in circumstances.

But as Chiropractors we FEEL that we did something wrong and that can be a problem. I coach healthcare professionals from outside the Chiropractic profession. Some are more aligned with Chiropractic (Osteopaths, Physiotherapists etc) but some aren’t. I’ve noticed that Chiropractors and those more aligned with our work can be the most caring of the professions, but that can come at a cost. The care we have opens us up to feelings of rejection and hurt when patients leave. This is especially true when the patient was a long time patient.

I am susceptible to this as most Chiropractors, maybe more so. I call my patients friends even when I’m talking to my real world friends. I treat them as such and even have messenger conversations with them years after I’ve left an area. So when one leaves I used to be hurt as if a friend had ghosted me. So I understand but over the years I came to notice that it’s mostly just life.

Does this mean that it’s wrong to feel this way?

I don’t think it’s wrong for a couple of reasons.

1: It makes us focus on what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.

This can be the best aid to your practice and your growth. Focussing on what you are doing makes you see how strictly you are following your systems or makes you realise you don’t have any systems at all.

If you don’t have a map then you can’t see how far off course you are or how to get back on the right path. The systems are our map of how to get a patient from the initial contact to pain resolution, maintenance care or whatever goal you set between you. If you don’t have written systems then it’s going to be very hard to see where correction needs to be done. So I always recommend that clinics without written systems start buying them in or written them down.

The most important system in any clinic is the system for checking that the systems are being followed. Write that one as soon as possible and stick to that one. It should include shadowing (even the principle needs shadowing and correcting), a written form with the key steps and wording and a feed back session. I recommend for the beginning of systems and for new people that you make this weekly then move to monthly after they are showing competence.

2: Love is the greatest predictor of patient compliance.

You care and that is so awesome because that’s is what people stay for. They come to get out of pain but they stay for the love they feel from you. That is what is great about systems because people feel love in different ways and that is what a system should deliver, that love in a way that people can identify.

I have a client who loves his patients, and he really does, but his day to day interactions with them do not trigger that knowledge in his patients. He loves them, but they don’t know it and as such he has been around every coach and guru you can think of and his patient visit average (PVA) is very low for the amount of effort he puts in.  How can there be such a disconnect? It’s because he is not showing them love and care in the way that the patient can understand.

If I was to say to you to think of a love film where one lover is on a train and has to leave the other, what happens when they leave?

Do they

A: Walk off and don’t look back?

B: Look back (maybe as the train leaves)?

C: Come back for one last interaction (run after the train pressing against the window)?

You probably thought of B or C. Now with that in mind which one seems to show more love the one who glanced back or the one that came back for one last interaction?

Probably C right? Yet what do we do as Chiropractors when we leave the patient? Goodbye and head out the door. What if you paused at the door for one last comment? Would that show more care? What if you got to the door and came back just to say one more bit of information, smile and shake their hand again? Would that show more even more love?

The next time you go and shadow, and you should shadow at every opportunity (especially if you have been a Chiropractor for a long time) I want you to pay attention to the successful Chiropractor. Now you can learn from successful and unsuccessful Chiropractors (what to do and what not to do) but I want you to pay attention to the successful ones in this instance. When shadowing I want you to do just 3 things.

1: See if the patient  appears to be a friend or long term patient of the Chiropractor.

2: Check on the file how long the patient has been a patient here.

3: See if the Chiropractor looks back or returns in when they leave (and also note the number of handshakes).

I’m willing to bet that a successful Chiropractor will appear and act like the patient is a long term friend/patient even when they have only been 5 times. I am also willing to bet that there is a comment or look when they leave the room and that there is probably 2 handshakes (or physical contact) when leaving.

Why is this? It’s because that is a surefire way to convey love and love is what patients really come for. There are many other ways that people can feel the love that you have for them but this is the easiest to see results from.

“More love equals more patients.” – Paul Lindsey

More love equals more patients and the great news is that you really care and love your patients. That’s why you feel bad when they leave, because you care. Now all you have to do is use your systems to show it better.

So this weeks coaching challenge is to show that love to patients by returning before you actually really leave. Maybe pause at the door for one last comment or even return for one last handshake. I’m willing to bet that if you do this with each patient consistently you will:

  • Have less people fail to attend (DNA’s)
  • Patients will comply more.
  • There will be less complaints.
  • You will be happier.

I am proud to be a Chiropractor and to be with a group that so loves their patients. Lets learn to show it better so that people know it.

ADIO

Paul@instantchiro.com