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Are You Addicted to New Patients?

Need more new patients?Income down? Then you need more new patients. Gapping holes in your schedule? Then you need more new patients. Stressed out about the future? Then you need more new patients. Are patients ignoring your recommendations? Then you need more new patients.

But, more new patients will not solve your problems. Especially if you treat your next crop of new patients as you have the ones before. In fact, focusing on new patients creates an addiction that must be continually fed. Chiropractors with this addiction are constantly foraging for new patients. Most have tried every gimmick, every script and fallen for every shrill appeal in the chiropractic publications they read.

“Become a New Patient Magnet!”
“Pays For Itself With Your First New Patient”
“Get Up to Five New Patients Each Week”
“New Patients From Lawyers and MDs!”

If you find yourself lured by these promises, thinking your problems can be fixed by outside-in solutions, then you may have a bigger problem than you think...

“Hi. My name is Robert, and I’m a patientholic.”

“Hi Robert.”

No, there isn’t a 12 Step Program for chiropractors acting out their new patient addiction. Until there is, ask yourself…

Do muscles and soft tissues supporting the spine complete their healing and retraining before or after the cessation of obvious symptoms?

[ ] After symptoms subside
[ ] Before symptoms subside

What is the likelihood of a patient experiencing a relapse of their original complaint if they discontinue their care as soon as they feel better?

[ ] Highly likely
[ ] Unlikely

How would you need to react to a patient discontinuing care to increase the likelihood of their subsequent reactivation when they experience their relapse?

[ ] Rule with an iron fist to prevent patient drop out
[ ] Make it easy for patients to discontinue guilt- and shame-free

How would you need to explain chiropractic to inspire a patient to continue their chiropractic care beyond the coverage of their insurance policy?

[ ] As a bone/pain relief phenomenon
[ ] As a neurological/lifestyle phenomenon

Without symptoms to motivate them, what would you need to do or be to make a symptom-free patient want to continue their care?

[ ] Coach patients about other aspects of their life that could improve
[ ] Be an example of optimum physical, mental and social well-being

What would happen if you focused your attention on attracting people interested in health, rather than those merely wanting to be pain free?

[ ] It would require making changes
[ ] I wouldn’t know where to begin

If you motivated just 10% of your patients to come in once a month for the rest of their lives, how long until you would no longer need more new patients?

[ ] About 7-8 years
[ ] I can’t imagine it

Seems to me questions like these hold more promise in solving the challenges of an under-performing practice than the tired, old mantra of getting more new patients. Or is it that non-symptomatic patients are boring and don’t afford the ego gratification and adoration that come from saving someone from their aches or pains?

I don’t get it. Am I missing something here?

Comments (3)

I agree with the above doc. I have diluted MY vision and attracted patients with a quick fix mentality. Do you like "new patient orientation workshops" to help new patients get the big idea? Or should patients feel it upon entering the office?

I've got a nine-month old practice in Arizona. I'm still building a patient base with direct mail, street contacting and referrals. Where do I find these people and how do I market to these people that are more interested in health than symptoms?

In addition, from reading your Monday Morning Motivation it occurred to me that even I have inactive patients. Will you give me an idea on how I should contact and approach these patients?

Thanks for your challenging thoughts.

WDE: Those likely to be more interested in health than symptoms might be identified by the following behaviors. I’ll leave it to your creativity to find these folks, but the short answer is to form alliances with other small businesses and vitalistic practitioners: Bottled water purchasers, organic food buyers, joggers, tri-athletes, marathoners, health magazine subscribers, alternative health seminar attendees, those seeking another opinion, acupuncture patients, yoga practitioners, chiropractic patients who would never return to their previous practitioner, people who work out at lunch, teeth flossers, massage patients, golfers who want to see an improvement in their game, people who buy environmentally friendly cleaning agents, people who buy and take multivitamins, dancers, people who rely on homeopathic remedies, etc.

As for contacting inactives, we offer a patient newsletter, a variety of postcards and letters that can be used to send a brief personal note. The key is just to remind them you’re still around. It may prompt a reactivation or a referral. The key is to be consistent and relentless.

Dan Perez:

Hi Bill,

I allowed my practice to morph into a pain relief clinic. On top of that, patients expect instantaneous (same day) results. Now, I'm struggling to find new patients every week to keep the practice going.

My market is downtown office workers, short on time, w/ many demands pulling them left and right. Very difficult to get them to concentrate on their care.

These patients tend to shy away from commitments or too long treatment plans. What should I do?

WDE:
The patients you are currently attracting, along with their unreasonable expectations, are the fruits of your previous labors. Changing this is will take some time. But it starts with the realization that you’re reaping what you sowed and continues through enforcing clear boundaries. My guess is that you’ve let the “inmates run the asylum” so-to-speak, whether patients or insurance companies. Taking back your practice will require greater clarity in your patient communications. Health, whether the health of a patient or the health of a practice, comes from the inside out. Something prompted you to compromise. You’ll want to reinstate your original high standard.

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From June 15, 2007 9:21 AM

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