When opening a private practice the number one way, and best way, to generate new patients is by word of mouth. During my first year in practice word of mouth brought in more new patients than any other venue we used. Ask yourself, would you prefer to pick your dentist thumbing through the phone book, or would you rather visit a dentist you have heard great things about from a friend or family member. While a phone book listing or ad may not be a bad idea, a personal referral from someone who knows you is far more superior. Your first resource to getting word of mouth referrals when opening a new practice is by educating your friends and family. Remember they are the beginning and sometimes the foundation for your network.
Due to the fact that less than 25% of the population is currently under chiropractic care, many people do not understand the complete benefits of going to the chiropractor. Do not make the mistake of letting your friends and family think that you are only a back doctor.’ This will limit the amount of people they are able to reach for you and your practice. If someone in your network doesn´t know that you can help a potential patient with carpal tunnel syndrome then they will never be able to tell others how easily you can help. A simple way to put it to your friends, family and patients is, If it is a muscle or a joint think of me.’
Once your friends and family know who you can help they can refer you patients. Once the patients are in your office it is again up to you to educate them. Every patient in your practice should know every condition you can help with. By literature, word of mouth or constant reminders let your patients know how you can help them, their loved ones and acquaintances. I will never forget one patient I treated during my internship at Parker College of Chiropractic. He was a 47 year-old doctor of veterinary medicine with chronic low back pain. Seven weeks into our treatment plan he asked me one afternoon, Can chiropractic treatments help migraines?’ I said, Yes, why do you ask?’ He then began to explain to me that he had been plagued with a migraine headache at least once a month for the past 15 years. Then he said he had not had a migraine since he started treatment seven weeks ago. Since I treated the whole spine, not just the low back, he had not only experienced relief in his low back but he was also relieved of migraine headaches. I apologized to him. He asked why are you apologizing I feel great! I said I´m sorry I didn´t tell you sooner.
From that point on I realized that not everyone knows everything about chiropractic that I do. Do you think that patient will tell everyone he comes into contact with that has migraines about his chiropractor now? Definitely!
A good way to constantly remind patients of other conditions you treat is to expand a little about the area of the spine you are adjusting on them. If you are treating their low back ask them, do you have or have you ever had pain down the back of your leg?’ This is a good question to ask anyways. Whether they say yes or no, this is a great time to explain to them that you see a lot of patients with sciatica and that you can help anyone they might know with pain down the back of the legs. It has been my experience that most patients will say right then and there I do have a friend with that type of pain. The more people you are able to help the better.
Dr. Ryan Marshall is a south Tulsa chiropractor and a member of the American Chiropractic Association.
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