Any successful DC knows that the secret to running a thriving chiropractic practice involves having patients who return time and time again for your health-related services. But how do you get them to want to continue to walk in your door? You keep them satisfied.
Case in point, one article in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery reports that patient satisfaction is “a very effective indicator to measure the success of doctors and hospitals,” due in part to its effect on patient retention. In other words, making your patients happy is critical your business success.
Sadly, this is sometimes harder than DCs anticipate which means struggling to keep the doors open, even if you are a master in your field. So what can you do to make your patients want to keep you as their primary health provider?
The answer is simple. You can avoid the three main reasons patients leave their chiropractor in the first place, and these revolve around issues with billing, scheduling, and service.
Issues with Billing
Have you ever received a bill that had an error or one which was much larger than you expected? It didn’t sit well, right? Well, that’s the same way your patients feel if you send them a statement due that is incorrect or higher than they anticipated, an issue that can easily occur if you increase fees without notifying them in advance or raise your charges in surprisingly large increments. Not only can situations like these anger your patients, but it also erodes their trust in you.
Another billing issue which can drive patients away is making promises that you don’t keep. An example of this is the “bait and switch” scheme where you get them in the door by saying or promising one thing, but deliver something else due to either disqualification or “fine print” which involves additional costs they weren’t expecting. Again, this increases their level of mistrust in you, making them not want to come back.
Issues with billing that are strong enough to make a patient leave without so much as a goodbye also include having limited payment options. If you don’t accept the patient’s insurance, don’t allow them to make payment arrangements, or don’t have the necessary payment forms, this makes it harder for them to afford your services. And if they can’t afford your services, they’re most likely won’t return.
Issues with Scheduling
The second reason patients leave their chiropractor is related to scheduling. As busy as most people are nowadays, time is a commodity. Therefore, the more you infringe on their time via a miss-scheduled appointment or making last minute schedule changes or overbooking the more likely, they’ll find another chiropractic provider.
Being inflexible with your office hours and not offering emergency treatment sessions can negatively impact your patient retention levels as well. So too can a lack of follow-up as not calling patients back if they’ve canceled, are no-shows or have left a message requesting some other information or service shows that you don’t have the patients’ best interest at heart or that you simply don’t care. Neither of these is appealing to a patient who craves a doctor-patient relationship in which they feel valued and respected.
Issues with Service
Provide a poor service-related experience with your office and patients will likely walk out never to return. This unfortunate event happens in three different ways. The first is through poor communication. By being unclear with your expectations, failing to fully answer their questions, or not meeting their follow-up needs, you maybe are seen as uncaring and incompetent. Who wants that when dealing with a medical professional?
The second form of poor service involves not offering your patients the courtesy of convenience. This omission can happen by placing practice in a location that is difficult to get to or hard to find, or by having inadequate parking or parking. While this one factor may seem minimal, 360 Connext calls convenience “a key driver in loyalty,” making it a point worth considering.
The third way your service could be hindering your patient relationships to the point where they’d rather never see you again is via offering ineffective treatments. This level of incompetence could be by making them feel worse than when they walked in, not offering individualized treatment plans, or providing temporary results.
Limit problems related to these three issues—billing, scheduling, and service—and your patients will be glad to return. Who knows? They may even come back with their family and friends, making it a happy reunion.