This is the second Practice Building Tip in a five-part series (see part one). Today’s contributor is Dr. Tory Robson of Winner’s Edge, a chiropractic consulting group based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Manage Your Inventory
What surprises most chiropractors is that they don’t actually have the capacity to enlarge their practice. That’s why so many chiropractors will launch some new marketing campaign, experience a temporary uptick in their numbers, and then return to their previous patient volume.
A chiropractor must first create a vacuum- only then can they expect to sustain the higher numbers they seek.
Creating a vacuum, which is then filled by helping more people, begins in an unlikely place: correcting your treatment time.
The Numbers Don’t Add Up
Ask the average chiropractor how many new patients they could see in a week, and most will say 10, give or take. So we conducted a time and motion study.
“How long does it take you to see a new patient?”
“About 10 minutes.”
Of course that’s not true, but if it were, 10 minutes times 10 new patients a week equals 100 minutes.
“What about preparing the file, reviewing it, taking X-rays, reviewing them, conducting the sEMG scan, and reviewing that? And let’s not forget your actual report of findings. How long does that take per patient?”
“About 15 minutes.”
Another gross underestimation, but let’s go with it. Again, 10 new patients times 15 minutes is another 150 minutes. That leaves us with a total of 250 minutes for 10 new patients. That’s more than four hours.
So, where do you have an extra half-day in an already abbreviated, cushy chiropractic workweek? The truth is, you don’t.
What is Your Practice Handicap?
Your treatment time is the greatest determinate of your overall patient volume. If you have any hope of improving your capacity to help more people, you need some hard data. Not guestimates. And not wishful thinking.
Begin by having your front desk CA record what’s actually going on in your practice.
On a printout of the day’s schedule, next to each patient’s name, record the time each one walks in through the front door. Then record the time they walk out the front door to go back to their day. Be especially diligent about recording these times during your peak hours.
The resulting average time per patient gives you a more accurate picture of what actually goes on in your practice- including waiting times, adjusting times, and schmoozing time.
If you’re diligent with this timing drill, then it will, much like in golf, reveal your “handicap,” your level of proficiency or skill: in one key metric, your time. If you’re serious about growing your practice, make sure you’re not overloading your internal systems and processes (all processes take time). Otherwise, not only is your marketing strategy wasted but you also end up creating needless stress for yourself and your team and a less than extraordinary experience for patients.
Sell Your Talent, Not Your Time
If you’re truly serious about growing your practice, start measuring your treatment time in seconds, not minutes. In other words, 180 seconds, not three minutes. This distinction will start you on the path to optimizing your inventory (time) so that you can help more people.
Granted, you must have a certain amount of discipline to reduce your adjusting time down to its essence. This doesn’t mean reducing the quality of your care- it just requires greater presence and focus as well as rejecting the opportunity to socialize too much with patients.
It can be difficult to reduce your treatment time with patients who have grown accustomed to languishing on your table, discussing the weather and the latest sports upset. Just bring greater rigor to your next new patient. And the next. And the next. Make sure they understand that they’re buying your talent, not your time. The fact that you can size up their spine and add just the right amount of energy at the right time and place to optimize their healing in 110 seconds means that they can get in and out of your practice and back to their day all the sooner.
Getting New Patients isn’t the Problem
The average chiropractor has 780 available minutes in a week. So if you’re spending three minutes person, you’ve got yourself a 200 and something visit-a-week practice. Even if you had a sudden infusion of 100 new patients, your practice simply couldn’t grow.
Managing your time and having the courage to eliminate extra steps, non-essential procedures, and needless chatter is the overlooked key to building a busier practice.
Instead of allowing the number of patients who show up to dictate your speed and allowing the work to expand to fill the time, create a vacuum. Create the growth you seek by first having the additional capacity to help more new patients.
With your adjusting time down to a bare minimum, creating a vacuum to be filled, it’s time to revisit a practice-building principle that is so simple, it’s virtually ignored by most chiropractors. Stay tuned for our third practice building tip…