As health professionals, chiropractors often know so much about a subject that it can be hard to decide what information patients need. Distilling the information down to the most important details and providing that to the patient in a way they can understand is critical to retaining clients. People skills, not technical skills, are unfortunately the most neglected part of many chiropractic practices.
What to Cover
There are five main things people want to know when they go to the chiropractor:
- What is going on
- Can it be fixed
- How did it happen
- How to prevent worsening of symptoms
- How to improve the situation
All of these are important to cover. While impatient clients may only want you to fix it, understanding what’s going on and how it happened allows them to better understand why you recommend certain procedures and how those might help. Offering back decompression exercises in a vacuum without explaining what they are or how they’ll help isn’t likely to net great success, patient happiness, or compliance.
It’s particularly important that your clients understand how they might be making the problem worse. Treatment won’t work (or will work very slowly) if the client continues to perform the activities that caused the problem. It’s essential to express the importance of patience now so that the issue resolves itself as quickly as possible.
Use Active Listening Skills
A competent explanation of the facts phrased in a way that clients can understand is a chiropractor’s best tool. However, in order to figure out whether the client has understood you, employ some active listening skills. Provide plenty of opportunities for your clients to ask questions throughout the visit, not just at the end. Repeating or rephrasing the questions posed will ensure that both sides understand what’s being asked, which will get the patients the answer they need.
Using jargon is a balancing act. Clients may expect their doctor to use the proper terminology when describing their issues, but they probably won’t understand those terms. Keep the explanation concise and tailor the conversation to your client. You might think about how you’d explain an issue to another adult you know who’s not in the medical field who you respect. That will avoid the excessive use of confusing terminology while also avoiding being patronizing.
Clients already assume chiropractors are technically competent. This means that most of how they decide which chiropractor they go to depends on their interaction with the doctor. You can make your services more appealing by understanding what to talk about and how to talk about it.