Conveying to Patients What You Can and Cannot Fix

As a chiropractic professional, your patients have expectations, both realistic and unrealistic, of the services you provide and the conditions you can relieve. So how you can clear the air and convey what you can and cannot “fix,” so patients’ expectations aren’t blown out of proportion? It all boils down to three components of communication: verbal, visual and active listening.

Good communication should ideally be your primary objective during a patient’s initial consultation. The patient might be at his wit’s end and relying on you to be an instant pain reliever for his condition. He may not want to listen to what you have to say, but fully explain your treatment goals as well as your limitations at the start of the consult to prevent any misconceptions. Invest in whatever time you need to ensure your patient fully understands what you’re telling him.

Visual communication is also important and will help open the doors to verbal communication and interaction so that patients better understand your scope. Chiropractic treats the musculoskeletal injuries and nervous system issues. To help patients understand this, provide videos that your patients can view as repeating loops on monitors in the waiting room or on your website. You can also employ detailed wall posters or instructive pamphlets that depict what areas of the body and what conditions can be treated most effectively with chiropractic care.

Active listening is also a component of overall communication. It’s not just a one-way street where you, as the professional, “lecture” your patients. To ensure you and your patient are on the same page, ask him what he thinks you can accomplish and relieve. Listen attentively and correct him as needed.

You can relieve many types of pain, especially those due to musculoskeletal misalignment, select back pain, neck pain, headaches, and pain from sports or other injuries. But sometimes a referral to a physician or specialist is necessary, especially if a patient needs a prescription for medication. Patients presenting fractures, growths, emergencies and other injuries should be referred to an emergency room or medical physician for care. By establishing good communication with your patients, you can build a trusting relationship with them while ensuring they get the care they need.

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