By: Pat Gayman, DC
“Don’t let your inability to tell the story allow someone to be sick and suffering.”
Every visit is an opportunity to encourage people to think about wellness instead of disease when they think about health. Never let a single opportunity to educate people go by. You may think that you have “already said that,” however, people learn by repetition, repetition, repetition – so you must tell the story over and over again.
First, decide what it is you really want people to know. If your “table talk” is about symptoms and disease, you will limit the way people see Chiropractic care. If you want people to know about the innate healing power of the body and the effect of an adjustment on their nervous system, then make sure that is what you talk about. Unfortunately, a large portion of our profession has allowed people to believe that Chiropractic is effective only for musculoskeletal conditions and pain relief. The full potential of Chiropractic care is alluded to, but not very well taught, in most offices. Sometimes in the day in, day out business of practice, doctors themselves tend to forget that the intelligence of body is the source of healing energy and that symptoms will respond according to the individual’s innate adaptation of matter. Do some reading, attend some seminars, find role models and mentors, or a coach, and get a firm handle on your own understanding of the philosophical principles upon which Chiropractic is founded.
Next, understand that communication is more than talking and it requires that the person listening can access, understand and retain the information. People have three basic ways of accessing information and good patient education includes a mix of those ways. The three primary avenues of access are:
- Visual; these people must see written words or pictures.
- Auditory; these people must hear words or music.
- Kinesthetic; touch or motion must be included.
Then, develop a specific P.E.P. (Patient Education Plan) that goes well beyond those first few visits. Make it varied enough that you don’t get tired of hearing yourself tell the same ‘old’ thing patient after patient. Build it into your plan of care so you also keep the patient interested with new and varied information. Remember, these people are coming to you for healthcare and information, not because they need a friend! Leave your personal life, their personal life, sports, news and weather conversations outside the office. A recent study by an independent consulting group indicates that in today’s market people want more and better information so they can make more informed choices about their health. GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT! Give them the truth about Chiropractic and their own body’s capacity for healing, adapting to the environment and maintaining homeostasis.
Repetition is the key to creating a practice where patients are committed to lifetime care and want to refer family and friends to a natural system of healthcare that will help them attain longevity and quality of life. If you have any doubt that repetition is the key to education look at the current prescription drug industry’s annual budget of more than $1 billion and the resulting increase in “off-label” prescriptions that are being written as people demand the drug they saw advertised on TV last night. There are billboards along the highways promoting hospitals and vaccinations as the way to be healthy. As a profession, Chiropractic does not have that kind of money to promote the truth about health, so it must be done on a one on one basis.
How can you continually tell the story, keep it interesting, and convey your mission to provide natural, non-invasive healthcare to as many people as possible? Here are some guidelines:
- Define your purpose.
- Fan the fires of your own passion for Chiropractic.
- Make sure you are not subluxated, physically or mentally.
- Write out a plan and mark each patients travel card in a way that you can track the plan.
- KISS It; Keep it Simple and Smart. There are many good products on the market for each of these ideas. You do not have to re-invent the wheel, just review some of the material and pick products that convey your message.
Sample P.E.P by visit number:
- Pre-consultation video and how you focus your consultation.
- Pre-report of findings video and a well planned written report of findings including an appointment schedule for a plan of care that goes beyond symptom relief.
- Workshop on Wellness; make this a requisite for care. Ask for referrals.
- Hand out a specific brochure, e.g. General discussion about symptoms, or Chiropractic, or about Chiropractic education. Plan to talk to patient about it on the next visit. Choose a series of brochures and give them to the patient at appropriate intervals. The idea is to help the patient see the full scope of Chiropractic from the results with symptoms, lifestyle, your education, research etc.
- Brochure; e.g. “Research.”
- Point out a phrase or thought you put on a write-on board and change regularly.
- Case of the week; this is a story about someone’s “miracle” and it gives you an opportunity to point out the many ways that the body responds to care.
- Introduce articles; either newsletters or clippings regarding health and some of the current articles about the allopathic approach to health and some of the flaws that are being revealed—e.g., The New England Journal of Medicine report on deaths from iatrogenic causes being equivalent to 3 jumbo jet crashes every two days. Done this way it is not medical bashing, rather it is providing information.
- Check to be sure that entire family is under care. If not, why not?
- Repeat the sequence above; brochures, case of the week, articles, thoughts or information on write-on boards, ask for referrals.
- Tell what you most love about being a Chiropractor.
- Talk about your office Mission Statement.
- Re-exam and report on the re-exam.
- Talk about the paradigm shift in care.
- Review the patient’s responsibilities; diet, exercise, rest, water, mental attitude, etc.
- Continue to educate on sound health principles, always including regular Chiropractic care to maximize the effect of all the other components of good health.
- Talk about medications and vaccination and how they are in direct conflict with the vitalistic model that says the power that made the body heals the body.
- Repeat all the above in a systematic way by marking the travel card.
A good P.E.P. will keep you enthused about your role as an educator and will give people an opportunity to shift their own thinking from the traditional, “health in a bottle” mentality to honoring their own body. Through repetition of the truth, people will grow to fully understand the vital role that the removal of subluxations and restoration of maximum nerve energy plays in their desire for optimal health.
“Tell the Story, withhold Chiropractic from no one.”