Practice Makes a Practice Perfect!

By: Kathy Mills Chang

“You can change the behavior in an entire organization, provided you treat training as a process rather than an event.”

Warren G. Bennis

“Practice is the best of all instructors.” 

Publilius Syrus

The excitement of hiring a new employee brings the responsibility of training. One of the best ways to assure that everyone on your team is well trained is to engage in an ongoing process of learning and growing. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways—from weekly team meetings to role playing to developing an individual training program.

Each team member needs to understand that continually striving for improvement in all endeavors, especially in service to your patients, is a requirement of continued employment. A Chiropractic team with the proper training will energize and give life to the practice. An energized practice is a happy, successful practice where patients can feel the impact of every team member.

Practice by Pretending

There is no one “right” way of learning. Adults learn in different ways, at different times, and for varying reasons. Because of this, the most successful offices incorporate a variety of training into the daily work of the team members.

One of the best ways to learn is to practice and rehearse. In our world, that usually means role playing and memorizing scripts. Some of us may feel a little silly pretending to be a patient or practicing our scripts on a “pretend” patient. But role-playing is one of the most effective means of learning scripts and being prepared for various situations that you may face.

Products are manufactured, but services such as Chiropractic are performed. You must be prepared to perform when called upon. Here are some roles or responsibilities that staff can and should practice:

  • Take turns pretending to be a new patient. Ask about fees, appointment times and the doctor’s credentials. If you find you’re stumbling over these scripts, get the bullet points written in a cheat sheet. Keep this information near the front desk so, when asked, you can let those facts roll right off your tongue.
  • Practice what occurs when new patients arrive for their first visit. Walk through the office on the new patient tour, pointing out the various departments in the office, explaining the doctor’s credentials, etc.
  • Practice calling to verify insurance, with another team member playing the role  of the insurance claims representative. Make the scenarios easy at first, but harder as you go on. Ask tricky questions about coverage that you face on a daily basis. Be prepared to respond to various answers you’re given.
  • Practice verifying insurance for functional orthotics, asking specific questions about the coverage, whether a letter of medical necessity is required, or whether a doctor’s order must accompany the bill.
  • Practice real life insurance-denial scenarios. Role play with each other how you would ask for reconsideration for various denials. Be ready to defend each point with your scripting.
  • Practice explaining the “A-S-R” concept (Adjust, Support, Rehab) to a first-time patient. Have another team member ask questions that a patient might ask, helping you to be sure you can answer them when they actually come up.
  • Practice filling out insurance claim forms or questionnaires, and have other team members check them.

Gain While You Train

It’s not enough for anyone just to read policy and procedure manuals or attend seminars. You must do all that, plus put what you learn into action. One of the best ways to do this is to make weekly training a part of your job description.

Here are some more ideas for training:

  • Make sure all team members understand each others’ job as necessary. If active care is a part of the practice, have everyone go to the rehab department and practice working with the NECKSYS® or BACKSYS®. “Non-rehab” team members—those working at the front desk or in the insurance department—need to know what patients are doing when they’re in a rehab session. It’s much easier for an insurance CA to defend a charge for Therapeutic Exercises performed on the NECKSYS if they have done it themselves.
  • Have the doctor explain how to scan a patient using the 3D BodyView® (or how to cast a patient’s feet) for functional orthotics. Practice filling out the paper work and it will help all the team members understand how the need for orthotics is explained and recommended.
  • View training modules on video/DVD. Practice the techniques described and implement them into the practice.
  • Have the financial CA review what an Explanation of Benefits is and how to read it. Explain what goes on during a phone call to an insurance company to check the status of a claim.

Lasting Impressions

As team members, we spend more time with patients than the doctor does, and we are likely to make the most enduring first and last impressions. We can make patients feel they are either a source of joy, or an irritating, schedule-busting inconvenience. There may be no other more important aspect of practice than training, to ensure we are the doctor’s most valuable commodity.

About the Author

Kathy Mills is a Senior Coach with Breakthrough Coaching. She can be reached at 800-7-ADVICE or