Dennis Perman_Message of the Week

Dear Doctor:

There is an invisible force that is responsible for many of the problems we face today, in our practices and our lives. It manifests as an insidious resistance to movement whenever two entities interface; it is noticeable only in its effects; and it is widespread, debilitating, and unless dealt with, wreaks havoc on our productivity and the execution of our intentions.

I’m talking about friction – there, now that I’ve named it, you’re probably making a scrunched up face as if to say “friction? What does friction have to do with anything?”

Yet friction is perhaps the greatest challenge to our success — it hinders forward thrust unless we either push hard enough to overcome it, which can be exhausting, or find ways to reduce or banish it.

Watch – a patient seeks your care, having heard wonderful things about you from friends and co-workers, and dials your number. A well-meaning receptionist drones “Doctor’s office” which leaves it up to the patient to ask the first question — “Is this Dr. Smith’s office?” “Yes,” the CA responds, “what can I do for you?” The patient comes from top-of-mind and asks, “How much does it cost to see the doctor?” Now the CA has to reclaim control of the communication by asking questions like “have you seen the doctor before, what is your chief complaint, do you have insurance,” and so on.

It would take half the time and energy to guide the patient from the opening moments – “Dr. Smith’s office, how may I help you?” “Yes, my name is Mary Jones, and I’d like to see the doctor.” “Fine, Miss Jones, please let me ask a few questions so I can help you get the care you need.” Instead of uncertainty, the first sensation the patient gets is the comfort of being in the hands of a professional, so she instantly feels less stress, and turns herself over to the CA for processing, which immediately lessens the friction.

What’s the difference between these two exchanges? The first is unstructured and ill-defined, subject to distractions and tangents, while the second is focused and direct, likely to minimize unnecessary conversation and provide the shortest distance between that patient and the service she wants and needs. In other words, the first conversation has more friction, and the second has less.

Do you use a long intake form that irritates new patients in pain? Is your fee policy complicated and difficult for patients to understand and commit to? Do your office hours vary from day to day, or does your scheduling leave patients waiting and fail to meet their expectations? Friction, friction, friction.

We see this on a more global level, too. There is massive friction politically, in our health philosophies, financially, socially – any of these would take more than the space we have here to thoroughly consider, but you get the idea – wherever two things come together inefficiently, there is friction, and positive motion is impeded. Addressing sources of friction is guaranteed to streamline your progress and take stress out of the system.

If this fascinating new way to explore your practice and life intrigues you as it does me, you may want to watch my class in our upcoming Practice Upgrade Summit, called “Friction: The Hidden Obstacle In Your Practice And How To Eliminate It,” where I cover numerous situations in your office that are making it harder for you and your patients to reach agreement on some of the biggest decisions they‘ll ever make. I talk about the friction in your consultation, report of findings, office visit, patient education and more – add this dimension to your communication, and watch your practice flourish!

Dennis Perman DC, for The Masters Circle Global

PS Click this link to opt in for the Practice Upgrade Summit – there’s no charge to participate, so don’t miss it, it’s filled with amazing ideas to grow your practice!