The Components of Patient Retention
There are three keys to retention, in this order of importance:
- Rapport. A bond of friendship, a relationship based upon the patient’s sense of being understood and cared for, and cared about, by the doctor. Be genuinely interested.
- Control. The doctor knows best. That is why the patient is seeing you and paying you. The patient will feel more secure and confident if they feel that their doctor is in precise control of their specific treatment program. They can gain this experience from you by your friendly assertions to comply with what you recommend for them. Be the boss.
- Education. You can talk and you can tell, and you can have posters and videos and give lectures, and even these may not help get the patient to appreciate the need for continued care. However, you should do these and more. You are competing against not only an entrenched bias towards an “outside-in” approach, but a cultural tendency for the “quick fix”. Additionally, you are up against a continuous bombardment by industries with a vested interest to sell their pharmaceutical and medical products and services. Never give up on patient education, however. Use examples of any fitness program. It takes time, it takes repetitive work, and it takes effort. You can write that down. (I knew a chiropractor who wrote this done on the patient’s x-rays while giving a report of findings!)
Freedom from pain comes ultimately from being healthy, which has to be maintained more than obtained.
Education as a whole can be very difficult. It is a skill you have to develop. It is best done in person. You are a doctor, a teacher. The education has to be simple: you have to relate it to real conditions of the patient and people they know, you have to be interested in the subject, and the education has to be just a bit entertaining.