By Freddie Ulan, DC, CCN
Axiom Five: Not knowing or applying these policies (which are based on decades of clinical experience) results in less optimum gains in terms of patient benefits and the overall success of your practice. This is pretty clear.
Let’s go into some of these things here. Let’s take a look at the initial visit. What is the purpose of the initial visit? I’ve asked practitioners this and the most common answer I’ve gotten is: “To determine patient needs.” Most practitioners agree that the purpose of the first visit is to determine patient needs and get their commitment to getting well.
Let me lay out what I have found it to be because I totally agree, but there’s more to it. Number one is to establish rapport. To establish an actual relationship where the patient knows you’re the doctor…they’re the patient. They trust you. You’ve got a relationship. That’s the first purpose is to establish rapport.
Second purpose is to determine patient need. You’re never going to effectively establish patient need if you haven’t established patient rapport first. So, rapport is first. Patient need is second.
While there may be some additional sub-purposes of this initial visit, this is the most important purpose of the initial visit, to then prepare the patient for the Report of Findings visit. That’s the actual most important purpose of the initial visit is to actually prepare the patient for the Report of Finding visit. “Oh my God, what are you saying? Report of Findings for a nutritional patient? No. We just test them and we tell them what to take.” No, that’s where you’re messing up.
That’s where you’re missing the boat because this is the breakthrough. When I made this breakthrough it totally took the stress off my practice. This is the most important breakthrough I’ve ever made in the nutritional practice was when I stopped taking that first visit and turning it into a visit where I examined the patient and sold him some product and then hoped that he came back. When I stopped doing that, my practice became stress-free. My retention rate went up greatly and we became far more successful.
So, how do you prepare the patient for the Report of Findings visit? Well, after you’ve established rapport, after you’ve determined their need, you’ve examined them, you know what’s going on with them, you tell them something along the following lines: “Thank you for coming in and giving me the opportunity to consult with you to find out what’s going on here. I’ve got a lot of good information here. I’m going to go over this and I’m going to prepare a Report of Findings and Recommendations for you. When you come back in, in a few days, I’m going to go over it with you fully. And the whole purpose of my studying your material is to find out whether or not you are a nutritional case and if you are a nutritional case, then I’m going to let you know what the program is going to be for you to get the most possible benefit out of doing a nutritional program.”
That patient goes home and they’re going to be hoping that they’re a nutritional case. I don’t sell them any nutrition on the first visit. I never sell anybody nutrition. If I sold somebody nutrition on their first visit, I would be violating axiom number one by selling somebody a product before they fully agree with and understand my recommendations and are committed to do the program. You see?
What’s the purpose of the Report of Findings visit? It’s kind of obvious when you look at it, but, let’s take a look at it.
One: to determine whether or not the patient is a nutritional case. Why do we want to determine that? Because if a patient isn’t a nutritional case, they’re not going to get well if they’re on a nutritional program. We don’t want them to waste their time and their money. If they are a nutritional case, nothing else will ever help them as well in our experience. And yes, you need a system that enables you to sort out who are the nutritional cases and who aren’t. If you have a system that helps you sort that out, you never accept a patient who gives you a problem on your lines because you only accept the nutritional case who’s right for your office.
I learned something from a great practice manager many, many years ago (1965). He said something that absolutely blew my mind. He said, “The kind of patient you accept and keep is the kind of patient you’re going to have.” Now that may seem awfully simplistic but what he was saying was that the kind of patient you have and keep, they refer people just like them. So you get more and more just like them.
If you accept a whole bunch of patients in your practice who are really not right for your practice, they’re really not nutritional cases right for your practice, you’re going to end up with a whole bunch of people just like them or nobody. But when you only accept those patients that are right for you, you create a vacuum that literally sucks in all these patients who are totally right for you and you end up with this big, full, happy practice of people who like you, like what you’re doing, agree with you, want to share you with their friends.
So, the first purpose of the Report of Findings is to determine: is the patient a nutritional case?
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