Probably one of the greatest sources of suffering comes from resisting what is. You can tell when someone is resisting circumstances when they use the word “should.” As in, “Patients should place a higher priority on their health” or “Patients should follow my recommendations.”
Right. And I should be taller and better looking.
Besides revealing a resistance to what is, using the word 'should' admits a lack of power. Wishing things were different and stating your powerlessness does little but distract you from those areas in which you do have control.
While patients should place a higher priority on their health, many don’t. And while few chiropractors dream of basing their own lifestyle on the whims of irresponsible patients who look to their insurance coverage as a guide for how much care to receive, this is where many chiropractors find themselves.
No, you can’t control patients but you can control your reaction to them. Here are some possibilities:
1. Try to talk the patient into prioritizing their health. This is where most chiropractors start. But it’s largely wasted energy. Believing if they can just find the right words and patients will obey is futile. In the same way I can’t talk you into embracing my music preferences or teeth flossing habits, you can’t talk patients into placing a higher value on their health. Yet, most chiropractors try. Good luck!
2. Sneer at their shortsightedness and become cynical. Resenting the people you profess to care for is not a recommended practice-building strategy! Countless chiropractors become angry, then resigned and finally emotionally distant. “It’d be a great business if it just weren’t for patients,” they sniff. You may feel that your frustration and healthier-than-thou attitude is justified. However, it distracts you just enough to overlook what you can do to turn things around.
3. Make your practice more attractive to health-conscious patients. Many practitioners profess to want wellness patients, but look around. Their equipment and procedures are almost entirely focused on the patient’s first 10-20 visits. Their paperwork only addresses symptoms, they have a billing department to chase down the patient’s paltry relief-only insurance policy benefits, they make chiropractic about bones rather than nerves, they rarely conduct progress examinations and their patient education is relegated to a one-time standup at the X-ray viewbox. Thinking this will manifest in a practice of cash-paying wellness patients is largely hallucinatory.
4. Encounter more health-conscious individuals. Maybe you’ve been running with the wrong crowd. If you’ve had your head down, immersed in the “coding and billing” world of insurance, it’s easy to imagine that nobody pays cash, nobody shows up nonsymptomatically and nobody wants chiropractic unless a third party pays for it. But it’s not true. Hang out with a different group of patients.
5. Cultivate wellness patients from pain-relief patients. Part of the problem is many chiropractors work on a 90-120 day time frame. (The billing and payment cycle of insurance companies maybe?) Instead of embracing a 10- or 20-year perspective and making it easy for patients to start and stop care, learning the value of a chiropractic lifestyle over the course of sometimes many years, they force-feed chiropractic. Yet, this attempted “short-cut-to-enlightenment” rarely works. Instead, patients feign interest, nod at just the right time and after a dozen visits or so, act on their original agenda and drop out of care. Worse, when they have their inevitable relapse, the bad taste from your dishonoring overtures remain and they either dismiss chiropractic (“doesn’t last”) or consult the chiropractor down the street (“not going back to that jerk”).
Sure, patients should place a higher value on their health. So, how are you going to show up, so if and when they do, they’ll think of you? Start here.