Feeling versus Function (Improving Chiropractor Communication)

By Dr. Russ Rosen | Patient Care

As a chiropractor, it’s sometimes challenging to get our patients to understand what we REALLY offer. If they did, they’d want it, every single time. My chiropractic coaching experience has given me some clarity on the matter that I’d like to share with you.

So where’s the disconnect?

One of the great challenges I find is that most chiropractors never find out what the patient actually wants before we tell them how much care they need. Chiropractor communication as a root cause leads to all sorts of problems with your practice.

You can picture it like a conveyor belt intended for mass production:

  • Patient comes in, seeking care
  • Staff greets them, checks them in, gets them ready for you
  • You say hello, explain what you do, and go right into “where we go from here”
  • The patient seems happy, thanks you for your help, and never comes back
  • New patient arrives, you shake off the last one as “a bad apple”, and the process repeats

That’s an awfully bleak way to look at things, so let’s try it a different way:

  • A patient comes in with a mildly sore neck
  • They have seen a chiropractor before and got “Cracked” once or twice. It felt better & “Fixed”
  • You do your consultation and examination, they come back for the report of findings and you tell them that they need “Lifetime care” or a “year of care” or whatever you tell them
  • When they’re not convinced, you either try to scare them into care (beware, the SILENT KILLER!) or roll over and “admit” that they’ll feel better after a few sessions, but more “wellness care” would really be nice

By the way: neither the boogeyman nor passivity creates a loyal, fanatical follower who will stay, pay, and refer.

What’s Missing?

One of the most important concepts we need our patients to understand is this concept of “Feeling VS. Function”. We must ask questions of our patients in order to understand their headspace.

In the ROF we walk our patients through a particular process where we help them understand that on this “Path to optimal health” chart, a negative ten (-10) means near death.

A zero (0) means you are feeling comfortable but you are not functioning at your optimum. We have not resolved the underlying problems and if we were to redo all of these objective tests they would still show that things were not working right.

A positive ten (+10) means that not only are you feeling great but your body is functioning at its optimum, we have resolved the underlying problem and of course if we were to redo these objective tests we would expect them to be cleared.

Now that they understand the difference between feeling and function, we can find out what is best for them at this time in their life.

How to Transition More Patients to Care Plans

This seemingly simple exercise is the key to unlocking your chiropractic patient’s understanding of how your care really works. We have to first meet them where they are, explain how you will resolve their immediate issues, and then inspire them to commit to wellness.

  • Someone who rates themselves as a negative five (-5) has to know that they’ll be out of pain before they can begin to listen to the idea of wellness care.
  • Someone who comes in at a zero (0) isn’t experiencing the crippling emotional and phsyical punishment of constant pain, but they’re not in top condition, either. They’re going to be more open to the idea of wellness care but still need to express a desire to move closer to positive ten (+10).
  • Someone who rates themselves as a positive five (+5) isn’t looking to remove pain because they don’t really have it. They’re ready to see the vision of wellness care.

Once you clarify what THEY truly want in relation to what you can truly do for them, you can then simply show them how to have it.

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