Less Is More: Learn to Balance Your Practice

By: Susan Hoy

Everything contains its opposite.
Years ago, I watched a movie about a little league baseball team that just couldn’t seem to win a game. In fact, the harder they tried, the worse they were. Help came to them from a magical drifter who just happened to be passing through town. Seeing their plight, he spent time with the team. His approach was to help them believe in themselves, visualize results, and to teach them relaxation techniques through yoga. The moral of the movie was, “Everything contains its opposite.” In other words, not trying hard enough would result in losing games, but trying too hard would create the same result. The key then, is balance.

Since that time, I have been very aware of the results of this principle on our Chiropractic practices. Of course, the same pertains to our personal life as well. The more I understand this principle, the more I see evidence of its existence. The more you understand it, the more you will see that very often, less is more! The following are some examples of this principle in our Chiropractic offices:

  • Professionalism
  • Commitment
  • Patient Tracking
  • Scheduling
  • Collections
  • Promoting

Examples of “Less Is More”

Professionalism. When a new patient enters our office, we all want to make a good impression. Often, we overstep the professional boundaries and become too friendly. Our goal with a new patient is to create trust and ultimately create a healthcare partnership. If our staff is rude or unfriendly, the result most likely will be losing the patient. Conversely, if our staff is over zealous and too friendly, the result will be the same. Being too friendly and overenthusiastic will often scare the patient off! The balance then should always be to create a professional friendliness.

Commitment. One of the most important reasons for giving a Report of Findings is to educate and get a commitment from the patient. I often hear complaints from Chiropractors that the staff does not keep track of patients and they drop out of care. However, in order for the staff to keep the patient following through with care, the Chiropractor must get a commitment from the patient at the time of the Report of Findings. Not getting that commitment from the patient will result in the patient dropping out of care. Conversely, coming on too strong and tying the patient to his chair until they sign on the dotted line will also result in the patient dropping out of care! Pressure tactics rarely work.

Patient tracking. As I have stressed over and over again in my seminars, it is important to keep track of our patients. For one thing, if we want our patients to get better, they must follow through with their recommended treatment plan. Another reason, and one that most CA’s don’t know, is that a patient can sue the doctor for abandonment if a patient drops out of care without a proper referral to another practitioner. The result of poor tracking procedures will be the patient dropping out before care is completed. Overzealous patient tracking procedures that result in patients having to change their home phone numbers will result in patients dropping out. Trust me, I have seen this happen.

Scheduling. Scheduling is one of the most important aspects of our practice. Keeping a controlled schedule is paramount in order for our patients to have a good experience in our office. I am a proponent of keeping firm control of the schedule. Here again, everything contains its opposite. Allowing patients to be early, late, or just walk in anytime will create an out-of-control schedule and will result in patients dropping out. Who can afford to wait long periods of time these days? Conversely, controlling your schedule to such a degree that patients have a difficult time getting appointments or punishing patients excessively for being late or early will reap the same result. Here again, balance is crucial.

Collections. Losing control of your collections is a sure way to lose control of your patient and ensure that the patient will drop out. A practice that does not take collections seriously and has a loose collections policy will wonder where the patients went. Patients who owe money almost always drop out of care. Of course, the opposite exists here also. A practice that is overbearing and unbendable and lacks compassion when it comes to collections will have patients dropping out of care also.

Promoting. I am a proponent of promoting from within. The source for new patients is in front of our eyes each and every day. That source, of course, is in existing patients. It is important for every staff member to recognize the opportunity to ask for a referral. Knowing when to ask for a referral will show up in your new patient statistics at the end of the month. Not asking will result in fewer new patients. Asking so often that patients try to hide from you when they see you coming will reap the same results!

As it was with the little league baseball team that was trying hard, sometimes we in the Chiropractic office try too hard also. I believe it is important to remember that sometimes less is more. If we always try to maintain balance, and go about our daily routine with the proper motives, our patients will be less likely to misinterpret our intentions. Our intentions should always be to serve our patients, to educate them on the positive results of Chiropractic, and finally, to respect their decisions. Once we gain their trust, the rest will come without trying too hard.

About the Author
Susan Hoy has been the office manager in a thriving Chiropractic practice since 1989. She speaks to Chiropractic Assistants throughout the country. Her seminars are both uplifting and motivational. Susan specializes in creating a power team that makes a difference in practice growth and patient care.

The recipient of several awards, Susan has had her practice management articles published in several Chiropractic magazines and has received awards for her writing.