Why do I lose patients as fast as I get them? I hear comments like these from a wide range of practitioners. It’s the nature of the health care business. It’s not you or your profession. It’s a bit of irony that the better you are at healing people, the less they come to see you!
So, if you’re thinking its “Just You,” or “Just Acupuncturists” that lose patients all the time…THINK AGAIN! I’ve worked with MD’s on the brink of closing their practice! Let me tell you…unless you are working with a business plan that is designed to counter the ebb and flow of health care, you are going to struggle financially!
Let’s put together a plan for you that is designed to repeatedly bring the patients in, get results, and then move the patients into a long-term Wellness program. The PLAN fits nicely into the acronym T.E.A.M. Let’s take a look at what each letter means.
T = Target, Technique, Timing
Target: Who do you want as patients? Why do you want these patients? What is the ‘wellness cycle’ of these patients? The results of a recent health care “discretionary spending” survey are listed below.
After looking at the numbers above, what niche do you want? It seems easy, right? Women 40+ will see you the most often and spend the most money! But hold on…is that your specialty? Is that who you WANT to work with? Do those people live close to your clinic? Geography and convenience play a major role in long term care.
Once you’ve chosen your niche, there are business plans designed to help you build and maintain a successful practice. So pick the group you love working with. If every aspect of your practice focuses on your target niche, the money will take care of itself. Patients will feel like you ‘get’ them and that you’re a kindred spirit, they will trust you and refer their friends. This is key to creating a ‘wellness care’ business model.
Technique: How do you conduct a screening exam? An initial exam? A regular treatment?
If a patient only comes 2-3 times, there is often a reason why. The most common reason is that they aren’t connecting. WE know you can help them. THEY have to feel like you are their BEST chance to feel better. They have to feel that, to not see you regularly, would be like not seeing a friend. We want them to invest their time and money with YOU, so it is critical that every aspect of your practice pulls them closer to you.
Timing: Relationships are all about timing. The patient needs you, you need them. What makes ‘NOW’ the perfect time? What is going on in their life that led them to you? How have you been prepared to see them?
There is a valid reason why we think this way. Humans take comfort in believing other forces are at work in the universe. Ask your patient the questions I just asked…If they entertain even the slightest similar thought they will immediately and enthusiastically agree! Reinforce this connection each visit!
E = Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy
Energy: People bursting with energy have a few things in common: they deeply honor and respect themselves, they accept themselves for who they are, they don’t take themselves too seriously, and they see challenges as opportunities to be creative. How can you become a more energetic person?
- Stop worrying about things you cannot fix. If you can fix it, DO IT; if not, FORGET IT.
- Stop worrying about other people. People will be people. Some are a fit for your practice, some aren’t.
- Make a Plan, and stick to it! Without a plan, we feel lost and energy drains. Making plans and sticking to them are skills that are developed through trial and error.
- Live life! Forget about constantly wondering about your place in this world, or whether or not you’ll be successful, or what kind of life you’ve lived/are going to live! If you keep thinking of who you are or what you’re going to be, you won’t accomplish much of anything. The key is to let go of those suffocating thoughts. It will free you up tremendously!
Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is a really powerful thing! People gravitate to a person who demonstrates this! So how do you develop enthusiasm?
- Enthusiasm is a physical action! Clap your hands together firmly and say “YES” loudly! Imagine how your staff or patients would react if, when you first see them, you clap your hands and say “YES…it is SO good to see you!” Can you feel the Enthusiasm building inside of you even as you read this and imagine doing it? Emotions are not always subject to reason but they are ALWAYS subject to action.” Feelings, moods and emotions will follow action. If you want to be enthusiastic, act enthusiastically.
Empathy: Empathy enables a person to establish a connection with others and is necessary for mutual interaction and a full experience. It is probably one of the most important aspects of being a leader. Without it, a person is virtually guaranteed to lose touch with the situation, he or she is in.
- One of the best ways to develop compassion is to put your self in their shoes. What would it feel like to be them? To have had their experiences, etc.
- Share something in common. I recommend doing an activity with your patient. I’ve found great success leading patients in Qi Gong breathing exercises. Teach them the 9 Breath Method and take 1 minute each session to do it together!
- Use Enthusiasm to break through the patients’ inhibitions and resistance, when they are pulled out of their protective shell they will associate that freedom and connection with you! Remember “Motion creates Emotion!”
A = Attitude, Application, Action
Attitude: Being timid, soft spoken and unemotional with your patients will sometimes cause them to lose confidence in your ability to help them. People respect friendly, outgoing health care professionals and will follow clear, firm instructions.
Application: We’ve talked about a plan, now here’s a sample outline you can apply.
Click on the Wellness Business Model Outline to enlarge it and print it out. Use it as a template for your own. If you would like additional details, post a comment or send me an email and we’ll go from there!
Action: Be certain your treatments involve physical “action!” In other words, the patient wants to feel like there is hope. Give them plenty to ‘feel’ in the treatments. Touch and physical movement are VERY important for generating emotions and connecting deeply with the patient. Create a touch and movement centric practice.
M = Makeover, Management, Money
Makeover: 40 percent of 1,000 respondents said their doctors made them feel rushed; 36 percent said their physicians were rude or condescending. Some other factors to note: For every one customer who complains, 20 dissatisfied customers do not. And of those who are dissatisfied, 90 percent will not return. In fact, the average “wronged” customer will tell 25 others about the bad experience. So does your practice need a makeover? If you’re losing patients, the answer is YES!
Management: You, as the practitioner, have to accept responsibility for the situation you are in. If the fault lies in the economy, your office, your location or staff, then the ability to change things lessens. Difficult times require extraordinary measures. Only those willing to make that kind of effort will prosper in this economy. If things are slow, there is plenty of time for introspection. Take this time to re-group and ‘Re-Create’ your vision.
Money: Does the word ‘Budget’ conjure up feelings of restrictions? For many people a budget is synonymous with strict money management. If you run your business this way…great! I suspect most don’t…so for the rest of you, think of a budget as a plan for how you’re going to SPEND your money! When you say it this way, you make a subtle psychological shift which makes developing a budget fun.
I hope this blog has helped you catch a vision of the kind of practice you can have. It is a long blog, and frankly, could be three times as long if I went into the actual details of the Wellness plan and each key point. Post a comment and let me know your thoughts and how I can help you with building your practice. Helping YOU is what I get paid to do…so have a great week and drop me a line!