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Patient Media, Inc.

#1 Confidence Killer

handcuff-contract.jpgOne of the things that inspires new patients and produces the hope essential for healing is sensing a high level of certainty in their chiropractor. In fact, projecting a high level of certainty goes a long way in explaining why some chiropractors are thriving while their peers in the same town are struggling.

Sure, clinical experience, combined with a great adjusting technique, can contribute to the sense of confidence and assurance patients find attractive. And let’s not forget the helpfulness of an outgoing personality and the communication skills to set appropriate patient expectations!

However, there’s another factor that undermines many chiropractors’ certainty. It’s the unspoken promise that they often make with each new patient with little or no negotiation. Instead of a signature, you consummate this contract by simply delivering your first adjustment. And it commits you to a burdensome obligation that you are unable to guarantee—killing your confidence, crushing your certainty, and undermining your passion.

What is this unspoken promise? It’s permitting patients to believe that you’ll be relieving their symptoms with chiropractic care!

“But alleviating their symptoms is why patients see me,” I can almost hear you say.

Of course. That’s a given, based on the allopathic culture we live in. However, just because they come in with the desire to have their ache or pain relieved, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to let that belief stand.

“But if I don’t treat their ache or pain, their insurance carrier won’t pay me, the patient won’t come back and I’ll be out of business, my spouse will divorce me, and I’ll end up homeless, living under a bridge.”

Slow down!

When you agree to see a patient under the pretense of being able to relieve their symptoms, you’ve entered into the practice of medicine. I’m guessing you don’t have a license to practice medicine, nor the requisite insurance. Yet, this issue pales in comparison to a far more serious problem—adjustments don’t treat pain or other symptoms. Instead, what you’re actually doing is helping to reduce nervous system interference to arouse the body’s ability to self heal—something that happens at an unpredictable pace and depends upon countless patient decisions and lifestyle choices, over which you have no control.

And that’s the trap.

However, this is not the case when patients receive a prescription for Oxycotin or some other high-powered pain reliever. Unlike a series of chiropractic adjustments designed to invoke the self-healing qualities of the patient, these medications produce the desired effect by shutting down the body’s ability to sense pain.

Pain relievers suppress; adjustments awaken.

If you fail to explain this critical distinction, patients assume that you’ve agreed to treat their symptoms with all-natural chiropractic adjustments and a three-times-a-week “dosage.” No wonder patients have the expectation that they will automatically feel better in a visit or two and that your magical adjustments will do all the heavy lifting. Never mind that they are overweight, sedentary, eat crappy food, are dehydrated, hate their job, are worried about their debt, and only getting six hours of fitful sleep after watching hours of negativity and mayhem on television.

Yet, what you do is so powerful that even in the face of these obstacles, chiropractic care still produces the results patients want.

Except when it doesn’t.

And that’s what needlessly kills the confidence of many chiropractors.

Because without explaining how chiropractic works BEFORE accepting them for care, you’re inadvertently perpetuating a lie. Whether merely anxious to serve your own needs, tally up another chiropractic conquest, receive adoration for heroically “fixing” them, earn the money you need to pay your bills, or just wanting to be busier, neglecting to make this critical distinction can work against you:

• Creating doubt when chiropractic doesn’t appear to “work.”
• Producing patients who discontinue care when they feel better.
• Taking the blame, even when patients sabotage their results.
• Needing to turn the report of findings into a sales session.
• Thinking you must single handedly “fix” spines.
• Walking on eggshells until each patient reports improvement.
• Fueling a pervasive sense of low self-esteem.

I’m sure there are others; however, accepting patients without explaining you’re relying on the “doctor in them,” not only blurs the distinction between medicine and chiropractic, it’s a promise to deliver something you cannot control or guarantee.

Failing to establish the partnership nature of chiropractic care up front can produce a hidden emotional drain that leads to doubt, frustration, anger and eventually burnout.

Stop it by starting to explain the truth about what’s really going on.

(Originally posted August 26, 2013)