By: Curtis Martin D.C.
Ever had a patient say “I think I’m going to go see a neurologist”? Or how about “I don’t think chiropractic is working for me“! What about, “you mean I need to keep coming, I thought I was done”? Let me help you out, these responses do NOT mean that the patient “doesn’t get it” it means the doctor has missing teeth in their care wheel! Let me explain…
A common phrase in chiropractic circles is “being in progress and on purpose,” but what does that really mean? I think these are powerful words too often used as an explanation of excuse when we fall short. Progress requires daily activities, and purpose is the vision that leads those actions in the right direction. From what I see coaching many offices and many doctors, most miss this point. We should not think about progress and purpose to be about doctors on their personal journey, this is meant to be the ART of chiropractic. Health is a life-long process. Chiropractic is health care. The essence of care and patient management is keeping your sights on three things: the goal of what is needed, the potential of what is possible, AND the specific micro-steps needed to get there. This creates the process of lasting positive change.
For years I have seen my patient’s health like a fishing reel spool that has “over-spun” creating a rat’s nest of tangled line. To re-spool the line I have to methodically specifically know how to move, twist, pull or push to regain order. I have to know what will be possible for that patient once order is restored. I see each adjustment as the next necessary move to untangle that line. This is the essence of the daily visit, KNOWING what you are doing and why.
Patients on the other hand see chiropractic as an event not a process. I barely need to elaborate here. What’s wrong, how much, how long until its done and over? These are the questions your patients ask. So here is the million dollar question to you: How do you, the chiropractic team, change each patient’s point of view from chiropractic as an isolated event or service to life-long health care?” Great question right?
The answer is that there are five very specific elements you have to create for each patient to change their view. Patient management is like a gear and these elements are the teeth in the gear. No teeth or missing patient care elements mean no forward motion. Although used in linear sequence they are in fact part of a circular process. You don’t just teach them once and check them off your list. They have to be constantly grown and strengthened to maintain forward progress. If there is no forward progress, whether on corrective or maintenance care, there is no reason for a patient to keep seeing you!
The teeth of the gear are
1) value of care
2) expectations of outcomes
3) direction of patient participation
4) care process and stages
5) education that empowers the patient to make good choices.
The movement of the gear is life-long utilization of care. These five elements are detailed in the New Beginnings training. It makes so much sense that to gain momentum we have to constantly upgrade the same elements over and over.
Great chiropractic is not an adjustment but a process that is only powerful when applied over time. This is what makes lasting change possible in a patient and their family. Life-long maintenance patients are not found they are created.
One of my favorite quotes is by Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” I know that it is what I do as a patient’s doctor every day that matters, not a one-time achievement or award. I have to be aware of each patient’s goal every week and apply the correct actions every week, with every patient, with office staff, even in my personal life. I see chiropractic as amplified through my every action.
Overall, doctors don’t study their patients enough. They get lazy and fall into an adjustment “routine” instead of looking at the big picture of where a patient is headed and selecting the right adjustments to accomplish weekly progress towards this goal. They cut corners by only managing the patient’s expectations of the day instead of setting expectations of the healing process as a whole. After all, anyone can get through the day! Patients count on doctors to know a path and guide them through it to a better tomorrow. If you have patients quitting care it is because this is not happening.
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