The success of any chiropractic office depends on much more than the skill of the chiropractor. In order to keep patients satisfied, they must feel respected, cared for, and valued. They need to feel that their chiropractor’s office is a harmonious and happy place where they can come to heal.
Managing Patient Flow
“Patient flow” refers to the movement of patients in the office. This includes scheduling appointments, organizing appointments so that all patients can access the therapeutic equipment they need, and keeping patient movements efficient. Here are a few ways to keep patient flow organized and moving comfortably:
- Plan appointments based on patient needs. Don’t schedule two people who both need muscle stim to have appointments at the same time if you have only one muscle stim setup. Make sure everyone has equal access to exercise rooms, massage equipment, etc.
- Complete a work flow via a time and motion study to find bottlenecks.
- Schedule carefully. Assign a time to a ‘unit’ of care and then determine how many units are needed per service and schedule accordingly. Ex: A standard adjustment may equal one unit (ex. 5 min.) and therefore a new patient visit may need 5 units (25min) on the book. Depending on the office we often recommend to our clients that they book specific pieces of equipment or rooms in the office separately to help manage ‘log jams’ or that they periodically block out a ‘unit’ to give some ‘catch up’ time. The number one reason people fail to get results from chiropractic is that they do not get the treatment! Set up your schedule to accommodate people so it easy for them to return and experience the outcome you know they can get. This is important on so many levels:
- Healthier, happier patients will continue to return and refer to your business.
- Your stress level will be lower, so that you come across to your patients as relaxed, personable, and professional.
- And you’re less likely to have a patient “bottleneck,” where one long appointment creates a cascade effect—and by the end of the day you’re running an hour behind, rushing through displeased client after displeased client.
- Manage Information Gathering. Each time your patients come in, you’ll want to make sure their insurance has not changed, and gather some basic information on their current condition. Here’s how to keep it streamlined:
- Talk to each patient as they check in, collecting basic information so that you don’t have to call them back to the check-in desk.
- Consider automating the collection of information. Set up a computer terminal (or a printed questionnaire) and ask each patient to answer standardized questions at each check-in.
- Ask patients to come a few minutes early to allow time for information gathering and to ameliorate scheduling problems if they’re likely to be a few minutes late and /or have your new patient forms available on line for patients to complete and return in advance Keep your paper work streamlined and review forms at least every six months to eliminate duplication of material or to institute other more efficient approaches.
Managing Staff Morale
Part of building happy patients is building a happy staff. That responsibility falls to the chiropractor and the C.A. but also to each and every staff member. Here are a few tips for building a contented and cohesive staff that encourages satisfied clients:
- Invest in leadership. Whether it takes the form of weekly meetings, occasional one-on-one chats, or just a strong-but-friendly daily presence, the chiropractor and C.A.need to take a day-to-day role in leading the office staff. Lead by example, not by request. If you want organization and friendliness, make those key components of your daily demeanor in the office.
- Value happiness. From the moment a new employee steps into the office, his (or her) superiors should come from the point of view that they are responsible for his professional development. People who are encouraged to succeed, who feel valued and utilized, are more likely to be happy at work.
- Request (and enforce) professionalism. Most offices need a certain amount of policing. When you ask the best of people, you tend to get it. Request that your employees maintain friendly and professional manners, not falling into habits of being overly familiar or complaining to patients. You’d be surprised how often it happens.
Addressing and improving these issues leads to increased patient confidence and that is THE MOST IMPORTANT determining factor of whether patients follow your recommendations and refer others.
Patients who visit a chiropractic office are quite often ill or in significant pain. Just the thought of coming to a place where the people are kind, thoughtful, concerned, and interested in making each patient feel better can make a big difference to patients’ mindsets and physical outcomes. Caring for your office morale and efficiency can be one of the best methods of improving your patients’ outcomes.
You invest time and energy into building a successful chiropractic practice. Now invest the time to protect it! Fill out our online form for more information on how to make your Chiropractic office HIPAA compliant, and protect your business from fines, fees, and audits.