The Positive Office Visit Experience: Consistency vs. Confusion

Have you ever stopped to consider the importance of consistency?  Could consistency have an effect on profitability? Could having more consistency in day-to-day procedures save time?  Consistency is a key tool for success in any business.  Likewise, lack of consistency means confusion, and confusion is a challenge. Surveys show that people choose the places they do business based upon consistency. Customers or, in our case, patients like to be prepared for what they are going to do or to buy.  What would happen if you stopped in at your local fast food restaurant chain, and at that location, an arbitrary decision was made to only serve fish sandwiches, because the manager didn’t like red meat and French fries?  Would this cause confusion?  Would the staff member have to attempt to explain something she, herself, was confused about? Would you go back?  What would happen if you went into a grocery store and, each week, the food items were moved to different locations? Once again, confusion.

Consistency in your practice

People rely on and appreciate consistency to simplify their lives.  This concept definitely applies to a chiropractic practice.  Patients, as well as staff members, appreciate consistency in your office.  They are happier and more compliant when they know exactly what to expect while they are interacting with your practice.

Consistency in Staff

First and foremost is having a consistent staff.  Patients, once they are established, appreciate being greeted by a familiar friendly face when they walk in the door.  Regardless of the front desk assistant’s mood, health, or financial condition each day, each patient should be treated and greeted in the same friendly way.  Also, although it is virtually impossible not to have staff turnover from time to time, care should be taken during the hiring process in order to ensure that staff turnover will not occur often. Evaluate your applicants prior to hiring with regard to their past work patterns.  Look at whether they are consistent, or if they tend to “job-hop.”

Consistency in Office Visits

The actual office visit should also be consistent from visit to visit.  In other words, each time following the first visit that a patient is being treated in the office, he or she should know, within a reasonable degree of certainty, what to expect.  They should sign in the same way.  They should know where to go first, second, then third. For example, they should take a seat in the waiting room until it is time for them to be seen. How do they know this?  They are told what to do.  People will follow directions for the most part. Next, the patient should always be adjusted first.  This is a valuable aspect of consistency that a chiropractor can utilize right away.  If the patient always sees the doctor first, they can rely on that stability.  This avoids confusion among both patients and staff members.  All too often, the doctor will reverse the flow of therapy and adjustments in order to accommodate his or her own time constraints.  However, this will lead to your staff not knowing what you want to be done and when.  This will result in too many unnecessary questions!  “Doctor, what would you like me to do with Mr. Smith?”  The doctor will spend more time explaining than he will treating.  Most chiropractors never notice these flow problems because it is not their area of expertise.

Consistency in Care

The patient’s care plan must also be consistent.  All doctors should give their patients a detailed report of findings, and care recommendations that they should follow.  The care plan should be adhered to, not only in order keep your patient compliant, but also to keep the doctor in compliance.  Establish a standard of care, and stick with it.  Do re-evaluations, examinations, and therapy plan changes when they are scheduled. Always explain any changes to the patient and the staff so that everyone will be on the same page. Consistency reduces confusion, and will create more time.

Dr. Maurice A. Pisciottano, Executive Director of Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic, is a practicing chiropractor, noted lecturer, author, researcher and teacher.  He is well known for his practice management expertise and new patient development programs.  He has devoted the past 14 years to the development of the instrumentation and the computerization of chiropractic treatment and documentation.  Worldwide, Dr. Pisciottano has trained over 10,000 chiropractors and treated over 650,000 patients with the Pro-Adjuster®.  He regularly lectures at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA, and at Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, MO.  Dr. Pisciottano is an honors graduate from the Palmer College of Chiropractic.  He can be reached at Pro-Solutions for Chiropractic in Pittsburgh, PA, at 1-877-942-4284.

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