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Diagnosing Your Practice

Diagnosis Theory

A client comes in and says they have a cold. What is an important diagnostic question to ask? Is it wind-cold or wind-heat, you can go a lot further with questions like what is their food intake, medications and the list can go on.


To get a decent treatment plan you need to break down their problem into manageable and relevant pieces of information, then build that into a treatment plan and go do the plan and adjust as new information appears. Repeat the process until they are well.


I have a saying. If you don’t have a treatment plan for your clinic, you won’t need a clinic, and this is our topic for another instalment of Barefoot Practice Management’s getting “Success in Life and Practice.”


We are going to assume (which is a very dangerous thing to do, but ehh) you run a solo 2 bed clinic, maybe a part time reception. In future I will do articles for multiple practitioners, rooms, locations but, it’s like any practice. Most people should start small and grow up to a larger business. 


We are continuing to break our clinic down into more manageable topics and todays is about the people and cultural rules around going into a business that supplies health and wellness. 


Frist thing, you run two businesses that occupy the same space. The human in the treatment room and the human outside of the treatment room. Pop quiz, how do you think of the human in the treatment room? And how do you think of them outside the treatment room? And what is the different?


In the tx room,they are the“patient”, outside the tx room they are the “client.”Now in reality I suggest you call them by their first name but hopefully you got that far. My Acupuncture College will not agree, but inside the tx room there is an “imbalance”of power. I know more about what happens there than they do. Outside the tx room we are more even (this is the part the College won’t agree with, they would say there is a constant imbalance). 


How are we more even outside the tx room? There are general rules we all know. When you go to a business and receive a service, do you expect to pay for it? If you make an appointment, is there an expectation you will show up for it and be responsible if you don’t. If you pay for something and you get instructions on how to use it, is an expectation you will follow them?


We run a “business” that happens to supply health and wellness, often in the form of acupuncture and all the other cool things we do. Almost everyone knows how a business runs. They know if they go into a business and receive a service there will be a charge at the end. I think many practitioners do not realize this simple fact. You are in a business that supplies health. 


I know lots of good-enough practitioners that are out of the health business because they failed to treat the people in their office like a client and a patient. They ran out of money or social-emotional-mental capital. Burned out and walked out on an amazing career. DO NOT DO THAT!


Patients can be fragile, misinformed, angry, difficult, silly... you name it and for the most part, I expect you to take it. They are at your clinic for help. 


Like many I got into this field after an injury, I was hurt and I did not have ANY training in health and wellness. How was I supposed to know how to act as a patient? How was I supposed to know how to do a re-habilitation routine? Take vitamin, I don’t think I even knew what that was. I was in screaming pain hours a day and your trying to tell me about my Bi-syndrome?!?


But no matter how bad your clients are hurt, sick or whatever brings them to you. They know most rules of a business and it is YOUR responsibility to explain any they don’t know and YOUR responsibility to enforce those rules as gently as you can. 


Otherwise, there will be a strange event that happens. You will lose the trust of that person and any chance of a productive therapeutic relationship can slip away. 


Follow along. We take our car to the mechanic. They say they can fix it, come back in an hour. We return and the car is ready. What do we do next? 

We go pay!


You got that answer correct I hope. Okay here it is. They say no charge. What are your thoughts?


You think why is that? They say, “Well our mechanic is new, he is still figuring out tire repairs and we just thought we would not charge you.”


I don’t know about you but two things would happen for me. I would not go back and I would have that tire re-checked because I don’t trust them anymore. 


Action step: Think about the rules of your business, how you are explaining them to your “clients and patients” and how are you enforcing them. I would write it all down on paper, make scripts of what you want to say and role play that with a friend. Have the friend throw some objections at you and take some time and work out a decent answer. 


Most clients will have some objections. When the mechanic does charge you, normally you say. “WOW, that’s a lot, how about a discount”. They reply “as soon as my mortgage is paid off and my daughter graduates.”


As everyone knows the rules, everyone just nods in agreement and pays the bill.

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