I completed my 65th in office consultation and patient focus group yesterday. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the process of sleuthing for the lynch pin holding up practice growth and providing some objective feedback for the doctor and staff. And while most offices strenuously clean up their office in preparation of my arrival (attempting to hide some of the very issues holding them back), in spite of their efforts, from time to time I get a glimpse as to how things really work. Yesterday was no exception.
Usually it’s a couple of dozen Post it notes cluttering the front desk. Or the chiropractor who has made his desk presentable by scoping his desk piles into boxes, stuffing them into a closet he hopes I won’t peak into. This time, it was the diagnostic area of the practice—the area where they use ionizing radiation and other technology to document the source of the patient’s problem.
Imagine my concern when I saw their X-ray equipment, Foot Levelers Associate scanner and the CLA Subluxation Station showing up as a mass of tangled wires, probes and, what would appear to an apprehensive new patient as, confusion. If the diagnostic imaging area of your office could use some refurbishing, consider these suggestions.
Reduce the harsh lighting. Consider replacing the cold fluorescents with track lighting. Track lighting with tungsten spots can give this area of your office a warm, friendly feel and it can dramatically highlight appropriate wall graphics. (Plus, your collimation light will work better.)
Preframe your spinal decay conversation. Position our Spinal Decay chart so patients face it when you take their lateral views. “Later, when you see this picture of your neck, I’m going to have you tell me whether your spine is a textbook normal, phase one, phase two, phase three or somewhere in between.”
Add a plant. You may need to add a GroLux bulb to one of your fixtures, but having something actually living in your X-ray room sends a powerful signal that X-rays are safe. (Notice how many people check to see if it’s actually a live plant.) Naturally, an artificial plant won’t produce the same positive effects!
Improve the graphics. Can patients see your technique chart with your handwritten notations? Print out a clean version on your computer. Does the pregnancy warning look like something pre-WWII? Upgrade it. Are you using thumbtacks anywhere other than on a bulletin board? Frame your posters and charts.
Dress the wires. Organize all the wires, cables and power cords. This is especially true of the cables running from your transformer. Use zip ties or Velcro cable organizers to bring order to the wires. Pay special attention to power strips, printer cables and telephone cords around computers or peripherals.
Remove the cleaning supplies. Remove or organize the inactive file folders and other stuff you store in your X-ray room. It goes without saying the stepladder, vacuum cleaner and twenty-year supply of headrest paper has to go.
Picky? Sure. But these nuances quietly erode your credibility, produce patient caution or full-blown mistrust. Of course there’s a segment of the patient population that looks past these subtle distinctions—perhaps in the same way you might. But these people are unlikely to include opinion makers or the more discerning (and coveted) cash-paying variety.
Clutter is one of the many enemies of credibility. It reveals an inability to remain focused and have clarity about one’s intention. It steals your self-esteem and you pay a hidden tax for it by attracting skeptics who don’t follow through or refer others.