Very often when a doctor becomes an Integrative practitioner, they are focused on the clinical aspects of their role. They want to do the very best job to care for patients and give them the optimal treatment.
However, a key piece of the puzzle has little to do with the treatment diagnosis and more to do with the patient, and how they are handled before, during and after the visit with the doctor.
Here are three key systems that can help you have smoother and more successful new patient visits in your clinic.
One of the biggest differences between the integrative model and conventional medicine is the time and attention taken in the beginning. Many Integrative doctors forget that patients are not as familiar with the process and will need a little hand-holding in the beginning.
Intake can include a conversation over the phone with an assistant or the doctor themselves before the visit. It is also likely to include the completion of health history. It is important to explain to each patient the value of these sources of information and to thank them for taking the time to complete the forms.
If there is the ability to send patients information whether by video or by written format before the appointment this can help to shape their expectations. A video from the doctor explaining the process can help to build trust with the patient even before they meet them.
Once a patient has met with the doctor and undergone an initial diagnosis, the next phase is to help the patient to understand how treatment will help them. Very often the resistance that patients have to alternative or holistic types of treatment is due to the fact they don’t understand it.
Patient education can come in many forms, but having a clear system in place is key to the success. Have a collection of resources, whether printed or online at the ready to share with patients. If you write a regular blog, you can forward the links to the most helpful articles. You can also record videos explaining the process, or ask former patients to share their experience and results.
Do not underestimate the value of good quality patient education. With the world going online to google their medical concerns, it’s key to be a provider of information that informs and makes patients feel comfortable.
Patient Follow Up
Just as it matters how you handle the intake process delicately, you must also be prepared for a smooth follow up process. Patients will need time to digest the information about their health. Remember a lot of decisions about health are very emotional, so you must give them the time and space to process everything.
Some patients may make a decision on the day, while others may take a week or more. For some patients they may not make a decision at all, and may defer treatment until the next time they are in pain.
Your records for patients and where they are in the treatment journey can help a lot. Make a time each week with your team to review current patients who are not yet decided on their treatment, and schedule calls where possible to help them make the right decision for them.
These three systems will do a lot to smooth out the patient care process. At every step, the better you can create a turnkey approach, the less stress both you, your team, and your patients will feel.