Before Y2K (remember that?) and before the dot com bubble burst (the other most recent economic downturn) the practice of chiropractic was different. Insurance reimbursement was on the decline, and phase two, known as the post-review audit hadn’t become so widespread. (One more reason to begin the process of Converting to Cash.) It was also before chiropractic supporter Arnold Swartzenager bailed on California chiropractors by effectively cutting them out of the state’s worker’s compensation program.
A lot has changed in 10 years. Chiropractic hasn’t changed. But how it is practiced certainly has!
Yet, countless chiropractors continue to practice as if it’s still 1999 or earlier. Do you make these common “adaptability” mistakes?
I’m sure there are others, but these immediately come to mind:
Sloppy staff training. In the olden days when there were plenty of patients armed with insurance policies waiting in the wings, overlooking a reluctant patient or two who needed a bit of coaxing on the phone, to fall through the cracks was, well, just the cost of doing business. Today, you can no longer afford this type of waste. Your front line staff members must be adroit at recognizing wary prospects and be especially resourceful at snagging contact details, following up and helping assuage the fears and apprehensions of prospective new patients. Try some role-playing at your next staff meeting. See how your team responds.
Identifying lead source. These days, many chiropractors are just thankful that a new patient shows up, much less where they came from! Many neglect to ask critical questions about how the new patient came to choose the practice, who referred them and explore the decision-making process they went through before showing up. Overlooking this critical market research makes it difficult to thank referring patients and enhance the existing mechanisms that attract new patients. (Especially critical if you’re not getting the new patient volume you want.) You can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring this important source of marketing feedback.
Resisting technology. I still encounter chiropractors who refuse to learn how their computer works. They resist learning how to use simple email. Even taking the avalanche of spam, personally. By refusing to get a website, they are suggesting the Internet is merely a passing fad, or that they can avoid its influence. This shunning of technology used to be kind of endearing, even cute. Now it’s interfering with your ability to negotiate the world and respond quickly to opportunities. If you refuse to learn how your own practice management software works, or insist that emails be printed out so you can respond, you’re just not adapting and frankly, are exposing yourself to blackmail and exploitation.
Delegating financial matters. In the olden days, you could keep your precious hands clean by not attending to financial policy matters. As in, “I’m just here to help patients. If you have concerns, be sure to talk to Barbara on the way out.” If you’re still practicing this sort of “zone defense,” you’ll want to rethink it. No longer can you afford to separate the care you deliver from the price it costs. Patients don’t.
When I first got involved in chiropractic, I was taught that one of the signs of intelligence is the ability of an organism to adapt to one’s environment. From what I’m seeing, there are a whole lot of very smart chiropractors who aren’t being very intelligent!