The Patient Journey: Patients Get The Best Results When They Follow Through
Posted on August 3, 2021 by Holly Jensen
This original article was featured in the August 2021 issue of The Chiropractic Assistant
In order to deliver on the true promise of chiropractic, it’s important for our patients to complete the treatment plan outlined for them by the doctor, AKA, complete the patient journey. As chiropractic assistants, it’s our job to do everything that we can to successfully move the patient through their chiropractic journey in order for them to achieve results. This means that we need to reduce any “subluxations” in the practice that may cause the patient to drop out before they complete care.
I’ve had the pleasure of being a Chiropractic Assistant for Dr. Miles Bodzin at the Chiropractic Wellness Center in San Diego, CA. Our average patient stayed with us for over 300 visits. Yes, you read that right…over 300 visits! Not only did our patients complete their initial program of care, but they also stayed for lifetime wellness care. We made it our mission to cultivate patient loyalty..
In this article, I’m going to take you through the successful patient journey that we applied in our practice. I will also reveal how this journey helped to drastically reduce patient drop-out and maximize our patient results.
There are four requirements that patients must have in order for them to complete care. We refer to these as the 4 F’s:
In today’s world, people are in front of technology for most of the day. Therefore, we must use a variety of tools in order to stay top of mind and remain relevant to them. It’s extremely important that we continually build rapport with the patient, even when they’re not physically in the office.
Calls/Texts: This includes calling them to confirm special appointments like their initial visit, report of findings, and re-exams. In addition, sending text message reminders of regular appointments can help tremendously to keep the patient on track during active care.
Emails: You should consistently send out educational emails that are congruent with the patient education in the office. If patients don’t understand the true benefits of chiropractic, they could potentially drop out of care when the pain goes away.
Regularly encourage your patients to follow your social media accounts. Stay top of mind to them with daily posts and position yourself as the leader in your community for chiropractic health and wellness.
We know that communicating the need for care beyond symptomatic improvement is an area many doctors struggle with. We’ve found that using the report card from The Wellness Score® is an incredibly effective way of getting your patient to intuitively understand their need for care. Everyone knows what an A, B, C, D, or F means! This makes it very easy to take all of your exam findings and generate a letter grade, rather than having charts and numbers the patient doesn’t understand.
Can you imagine the response your patient would give when the doctor told them that based upon what was measured in the exam, their health grade is a D?
It changes the conversation with the patient from, “Doc, what do you have to do to get rid of my neck pain?” to “Doc, what do we have to do to get me an A?”
Even more important, re-exams need to be done on time. The patient needs to see the progress that they’re making towards the goal of care in order to stay the course.
By not communicating the progress the patient is making while under active care, they’ll wonder why they’re still coming in 2-3 times per week if their pain has gone away. Patients need to continually see the need for care beyond the pain. This is why patient feedback is so critical to a successful patient journey.
If you’ve ever been to an orthodontist, you know the result they deliver is straight teeth. Do your patients know what results they’re getting when they come to your office? If it’s unclear, they’ll think you just help them get out of pain, and then they’ll leave when the pain goes away.
Patients need to know there’s a game plan for the care they’re receiving in your office. The game plan (aka treatment plan) needs to be clearly explained by the doctor to the patient in the report of findings. Once the patient has said yes to care, we generate a comprehensive and compliant care plan that automatically calculates affordable payment options, making it easy for your patients to commit to care.
Gone are the days where homemade fill-in-the-blank spreadsheet care plans are appropriate or even compliant! No more of, “Let’s wait and see what your insurance covers.” We plug in all of the covered and non-covered services and products that the patient is getting during the treatment and produce a customized and compliant care plan.
Imagine the response your patients would give you when you present them with a professional-looking care plan that is properly calculated and offers them affordable payment options! It makes a great impression on your patients and gives them the confidence to feel comfortable enrolling in care.
Having patients on care plans reduces your workload too! Because the patient is on a payment plan, you’re not constantly asking them for money.
Patients love it when they can clearly see what to expect while under care with no hidden surprises, both clinically and financially.
And, like all other purchase decisions in their life, they greatly appreciate the option of monthly automated payments to make it easy and affordable.
Offering patients care plans avoids hearing the dreaded, “Let me think about it.” We all know what it means when a patient says that… They either don’t understand it or don’t want it.
The more often your patient has to think about money, the less often they’ll be using your services. It’s for this reason that it’s crucial you identify and remove situations that cause the patient to touch their wallet in the office.
By incorporating a frictionless payment experience in your office, you’ll not only free up your time, but you’ll also make it more convenient for your patient to pay for care.
Our financial policy is clear: We automate the way all payments are collected. All patients are aware of the policy and have a signed authorization on file allowing us to collect one-time and recurring payments automatically.
Whether the patient is purchasing a bottle of supplements or paying their co-pay, I simply tell them, “John, today’s total is $X. I’ll charge your card on file and email the receipt to you.” Automating one-time payments drastically reduces the congestion at the front desk, allows patients to get in and out quicker, and ensures no one leaves without paying.
For patients who are on monthly care plans, their payments automatically process on the agreed date. I love being able to solely focus on the patient when they’re in the office and not having awkward financial conversations because they have a payment due.
Incorporating the 4 F’s into the patient journey is a game-changer when it comes to patient retention during the active care phase and beyond. You’ll have better patient compliance which will result in a high-retention practice. And, having a high-retention practice will allow you to achieve the success you desire. You’ll experience more joy because your time has been freed up, allowing you to make more meaningful connections with your patients.
I personally find this human connection with our patients to be one of the most rewarding things about being a Chiropractic Assistant. I find that my mission to serve alongside the doctor as we cultivate patient loyalty brings me great fulfillment. And I want the same for you! Free up your time by applying the 4 F’s in your practice and make serving in chiropractic your career too.