So what is THE most critical aspect of patient satisfaction? In my experience, it probably has to do with listening.
I know, I know: you’re the Doctor of Chiropractic – the expert who spent countless hours learning in a classroom and then actually helping thousands of patients. You should be doing the talking and your patients should be doing all of the listening, right?
But in fact, listening to your patients is the first step to ensuring they are happy and satisfied. Remember that their experience in your office isn’t necessarily based on science or facts, about how they FEEL when they walk out the door.
Helping realign and treat them with chiropractic care is a big part of relieving their pain, discomfort, and making them feel better eventually, but there are other parts that are nearly as vital.
When patients are in pain or have suffered injuries, they are often scared. They might be stressed, not themselves emotionally, and maybe sleep deprived. Of course it’s important you remove subluxations and align them properly so their body can begin to naturally heal, but there’s more that goes into enhancing patient satisfaction.
I suggest you start focusing on:
Eliminating (or reducing) their pain and aggravation. If the resounding reason they came to see you was because they were experiencing some sort of pain, making sure that pain is somewhat relieved or alleviated before they walk out of your office (as much as possible) will make patients ecstatic.
Explain what is going on. Since public awareness about chiropractic is still lacking, many patients – especially if it’s their first time visiting a chiropractor – will be curious, or even wary or guarded. By taking the time to explain to them how the process works and what is going on with their spine, nervous system, and overall health, as well as how chiropractic care will help, their experience will be enhanced.
Listen! Listening is a discipline that takes focus and practice. Resist the urge to just ask questions and act like you’re listening while you wait your turn to talk. Your patients should feel like they are the most important people in the world and have 100% of your attention while they’re speaking. That will go a long way to establishing trust and a positive connection with your care.
Invite them to talk about their pain, injury or what’s going on in their lives. Yes, more listening. But instead of clinically focusing on only their pain, injury, or health issue, encourage them to talk about anything that’s on their mind. You may find the root cause of their stress and pain, like work or relationship problems, trouble sleeping, poor fitness, etc. By understanding these root causes, you can better help them with a treatment plan that includes positive changes with diet, fitness, sleep, stress management, quitting smoking, goal setting, etc., not just adjustments. They’ll be THRILLED that you took the time to dig deeper, and excited to set their next appointments with you.
All of this helps foster better rates of patient retention. Follow-up is key as patients who return for follow up treatments or adjustments and stick to their treatment plan report far higher levels of satisfaction. In fact, the American Chiropractic Association reports that patient satisfaction is highest after four weeks of treatment.
Consider their total experience. Remember that the patient experience doesn’t just begin when they walk into your treatment room and end when you are done. In fact, it begins when they first find out about you – whether online, by recommendation from a friend, or driving by your office. Was it easy to get in touch and book an appointment? Was your waiting room pleasant, clean, and comfortable? Was the amount of paperwork they had to fill out excessive (remember that they are probably in pain or discomfort) and we’re all staff and CA’s friendly and professional to them? After they saw you, was the follow up process clear and simple? These are all factors that go into great patient satisfaction, so try to see it through their eyes or gather feedback.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Trust is an invaluable commodity, and as a medical professional, patients hold you in the highest of esteem. If you start making promises or giving assurances that don’t come to fruition, that trust may be violated and nearly impossible to recover. So always be careful what you promise a patient.
Give them HOPE. They may not feel better immediately – especially since it’s their own nervous system and body that will heal itself with chiropractic and natural care, not just masked by drugs and painkillers. But if they walk out of your office with clarity, confidence, and hope that your treatment is the answer to their problems and will make their lives better over time, patient satisfaction will be to the moon!
Oh, and now that you have the important things handled, you can start passing out free popcorn and birthday cards!