After many years of experience, we are confident in saying that having a clear plan in place can be hugely supportive in achieving goals. We have noticed over the years that practitioners often shy away from putting a plan in place for their patients. Some will avoid recommending what they truly believe would be best for the patient for fear of being seen to be ‘selling’, be perceived as over-treating or being seen as the same as that pushy, unethical, money-stealing therapist down the road.
Understand your patient’s goals
The first step to putting the plan in place is understanding what your patients’ goals are. Spend time to find out what your patients’ condition is getting in the way of them doing. What activities are being hindered? What would they love to be able to do? Their short-term goal may simply be to get out of pain but what are their long-term goals and how can your treatment support them to achieve those goals? When you have a deeper understanding of your patients’ goals you’ll be able to ethically recommend the best plan going forward and avoid falling into the trap of means-testing patients. (a whole blog coming up on that one!)
Capturing the plan
When patients are in the consulting room it is possible (and most likely) that they are not absorbing and retaining absolutely everything you say. It comes up time and time again in our receptionist training courses that when the patient comes out of the treatment room and the receptionist asks ‘When does he want to see you again?’ they are met with unsure answers. Outlining a plan and giving it to the patient can greatly reduce this uncertainty. Some practices also find increased rebooking by having a procedure that involves the practitioner handing the patient over to the receptionist with verbal rebooking instructions
Using the plan
Putting a plan in place is a great start. Using the plan along the way can be really useful to keep your patient engaged and encouraged by progress made. By checking in with what you’ve agreed, acknowledging where you are on the journey or adjusting the direction if need be can increase your patients’ confidence and trust in you.
Keep flex in your diary
I was speaking with a client this week and we were talking about balancing measuring patient visit averages, rebooking and exceptional, ethical patient care. Whilst it’s great to have a full diary and being able to help so many people, there is a danger of patient care slipping if your appointment book is too busy and you rush from patient to patient.
Keep it patient centric
Encouraging patients to keep to plans might well have a positive impact on the bottom line of your business i.e. make your practice more profitable BUT if that’s the reason you’re doing it and that is what is driving you to do it, that is what will come across and you will be perceived as the salesy practitioner patients go off very quickly. If you are recommending treatments based on your patients’ goals and your expertise of what the best course of action is for them to achieve those goals, your care and concern for the patient will come across building trust and confidence. Most of my clients tell me they became a therapist because they want to help people, improve quality of life etc. Keep that at the forefront of your mind and think about how you can make that true for each patient in front of you.
We hope that some of the ideas above have given you some food for thought and will help you to enjoy your work and achieve your vision. We have specialized in helping practitioners to have successful practices for over 10 years now. Do get in touch and find out how we can help you. If you’d like to immerse yourself even more in this particular topic join us at the next Returning and Referring Culture workshops which we’ll be running in October in London and Leeds.