How many visits?

Today was eye-opening for me.  I came to work today thinking today would be an ordinary day, but I received an e-mail that brought me to a screeching halt.  A few months ago I have e-mailed a patient who had stopping coming after the first few visits and asked her if everything was okay?  I wrote “Also, I am curious for learning purposes, if there is something that went wrong to make you discontinue treatment.  I am always wanting to improve my services, so if you have any suggestions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to e-mail or call.”

She responded, “The only thing that I questioned in the process/protocol was the determination that I needed 8 sessions.  Whenever I have seen Chiropractors in the past, the Doctors treated me one session at a time.  Scheduling out 8 sessions seemed like it was financially driven not patient driven.”

At first I was hurt, thinking that I am not a money-driven person.  I give excellent care to my patients and feel my treatment plans are conservative compared to many chiropractors I know.  As I truly began to reflect on her message (and the courage it takes to deliver a message like it), I began to see great value in her feedback.

Was I clearly communicating to my patients that the number of visits were an estimate of the number of visits it takes to reach treatment goals?  Do patient get wrapped up the idea that pain is the only thing that brings them to the office?  Do they care about improving posture and function/alignment of the spine?  What am I communicating to my patients?  How many of my patients feel the same way she does?

So many questions.  So many things to consider.  I have leaned that I need better communication with my patients.  Talk to them about what their goals are.  Ask them how many visits they think it will take to reach treatment goals and tell them how many I suspect it will take…talk about why I see it differently.

So it begs the question…here’s my take.

How long does treatment take? Just like exercise and going to the gym takes time to get results, chiropractic care requires time and dedication.  It is important to understand that every person heals at a different rate.  On average Dr. Funk finds that muscular pain (sprain/strain injuries, minor pain, muscle tension, etc.) requires 6-8 weeks for full healing.  “I find that most patients find they have greatly reduced pain levels after the first 2-3 weeks.  The last half of treatment is then focused on restoring joint function and correcting range of motion.”

WOW!  Who knew today would be so eye-opening???

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