Your New Patient Problem Might Really be a Math Problem

Randi Grant

By Randi Grant

Marketing Manager

Published December 27, 2019
Updated August 6, 2020

5 min read

Imagine this:

You’ve been in practice for 8 years in an affluent suburban town of about 40,000 people. You get a steady trickle of new patients most months and have a large roster of loyal return patients. But your finances are feeling tight. One of your CA’s just quit and you’re actually relieved because the payroll was a real strain each month. But you need another CA to keep up with your patient flow. What’s the solution?

If your instinct was to say, “More new patients!,” you’re not alone.

It’s easy to think that the answer to any money problem in business is more new customers. Sometimes that is the answer. But oftentimes in the world of chiropractic practice ownership, the answer is in the math.

Success = Knowing Your Numbers

You wanted to be a chiropractor, but found yourself a small business owner.”-Bill Esteb, Chiropractic Expert & Co-Founder of Perfect Patients

The moment your first patient paid you, you became a businessperson. Unfortunately, business and money-handling skills are not part of the curriculum in chiropractic school…

I recently spoke to Dr. Tory Robson, chiropractor, author, and owner of Winner’s Edge Chiropractic Consulting, who explained it this way: “A successful small business owner, keyword successful, understands the math related to their business, whether it’s margins, overhead, time elements, or payroll percentages. They know their math.”

Dr. Tory Robson

To know your math, you need to go back to the beginning of time. Well, the beginning of your time. After all, you only have so many minutes in a day and you need to figure out how many of those minutes are allocated to patients.

Dr. Robson says to start by getting granular and determining the following:

“How many patients per hour can the throughput of the office be? The doctor’s treatment time is in seconds and the doctor only has so many available seconds in the week. How many of those seconds are used for walking, talking on the phone, talking with staff, doing notes. Okay, now how many seconds are actually left over for you to see patients?”

Once you know that, you know how many patients your practice can actually see in a week. According to Dr. Robson, the typical chiropractor has around 800 minutes per week to see patients. Therefore, if you want to see 200 patients per week, you’re going to have to average four minutes per patient.

Dream Big

Now it’s time to set some goals.

According to Dr. Robson, “Step number one is your collection goal for the year. That is the number everything else orbits around.” In fact, at Winner’s Edge, they are big believers in goal setting. “A chiropractor will grow to the level of their imagination. So we must imagine what we want.”

Similarly, Dr. Russ Rosen of Optimal Health Chiropractic System coaches chiropractors who are eager to have a successful practice. He says, “They all believe if they just had more new patients all would be fine. And although attracting high quality new patients is essential, it is rarely the entire answer.” He goes on to explain, “They try this new thing or that new marketing scheme to bring in the all-mighty new patients. They never take the time to REALLY clarify ‘this is where I am, this is where I want to get to, and this is a congruent strategy that will get me there.’”

New patients are great, but until you know where you’re at financially, where you want to go, and have a plan for getting there, you’ll just be spinning your wheels.

Working Backwards

Once you know how many patients you can see in a day and set some specific goals, it’s time to work backwards to figure out how you can achieve those goals.

“We want everybody to know their bests,” says Dr. Robson. What does that mean? “If you could talk to a person running track, they’d say ‘My best hundred time is a 10.65.’ You ask a chiropractor, ‘What’s your best visits on a Wednesday?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘What’s your best collections in a day?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘But you want to collect more in a day, right?’ ‘Yeah.’”

It’s going to be very difficult to collect more than X if you don’t know what X is. It may sound daunting to sit down and figure out your bests, but you’ll be glad you did. These numbers are your personal records you want to break. You’ll be able to document your bests and see yourself achieving your goals.

ladderAt Winner’s Edge, the chiropractors create a ladder. The first rung is your best, the next rung is the next tiny goal, then the next tiny goal, and so on. Take it one small goal at a time to climb your way to the top of the ladder.

“It will be very confidence building because you’ll be able to see, ‘Hey, I had a best and I broke it and then I broke another one.’”

In addition to setting goals and knowing your bests, it’s important to know every detail of your current financial situation. How much money do you owe on your student loans and how much is the interest per day on your student loans? What money is spent on rent, payroll, and utilities every month? How much is going to insurance and taxes?

If it’s been a while since you’ve calculated it all out, written it down, and seen on paper your debt vs. income, it’s time to do it again. If you’re just starting out, start out strong and know these numbers.

Dr. Robson laid it out clearly, stating,

Your practice success and financial success and where you live and what you eat and the car you drive and the vacations you take and how fast you pay off your loans is all hanging on your ability to understand the math in all areas of your personal and professional life.”

Once you do, you can take baby steps toward achieving your goals, beating your bests, increasing your net worth, and, most importantly, helping more people with chiropractic care.

Know Your Math, Get New Patients

When you have a firm hold on the numbers, you can direct your marketing efforts accordingly. You’ll know how many dollars can be dedicated to marketing and advertising and set goals for how many new patients you want to see each month.

Download our eBook, The 5 Factors of Digital Marketing Success, to learn how to create a comprehensive digital marketing plan that will help you achieve these goals.