Chiropractic patient report folders didn't exist until 1981. Before then, patient report documents might consist of an eclectic collection of nerve distribution charts. Or a subluxation handout with a black and white photo depicting a pinched nerve. Skimpy, to say the least.
The first commercial chiropractic pocket folder was called the "magazette." (Read how the magazette got its name.) The early versions of the patient report folder were not nearly as effective as those available now. But it was an important breakthrough for the profession and the individual chiropractor.
Since then, patient report of findings folders have become an integral part of the patient communication process. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Report Folders Organize Your Reports
Presenting your clinical findings and recommendations for care should be informational as well as persuasive. A patient folder organizes the documents needed to present your case. Plus, include reasons for following your care recommendations.
By managing the report forms that support your findings you can logically make your case and stay on message. Greater organization gives your reports greater clarity and patient acceptance. Plus, your reports can be shorter and more to the point.
2. Report Folders Are Professional
Patients often judge you based on their experience with medical practitioners. And while the presentation of medical findings is often a verbal affair, a quality printed folder that patients can take home with them positions you as an expert.
It wasn't that long ago that chiropractic was considered dodgy. Second class. Even today, many patients show up looking for evidence to either confirm or reject that notion. Presenting your findings with a smart patient folder with fresh, up-to-date graphics, speaks volumes about you, your judgment and your professional image.
3. Report Folders Increase Patient Trust
One of the most important ingredients of the healing process is hope. No hope, no healing. When your patients receive your examination findings and recommendations for care packaged in a classy folder, their faith, hope and confidence increase.
Starting a new patient relationship with solid trust and the belief you can help them is a tremendous advantage. Especially since chiropractic care depends so heavily on evoking the patient's healing capacity. High levels of patient trust can buy you the needed grace should their improvement not be as immediate as they had hoped.
4. Patients Take Your Recommendations More Seriously
A patient will rarely take their situation seriously—unless you do. Explaining that you "know what's wrong and I can fix it" over your shoulder as you lead the patient to your adjusting table devalues you, your education and the principles of chiropractic.
I'm not suggesting manipulative techniques. Or hyperbole. However, carving out 10-15 minutes to deliver a formal report of findings is essential. Even more important is presenting your findings in an impressive, take-home package. Remember, you're performing bloodless neurological surgery that addresses the underlying cause of their health issue. They're at the end of their rope. Don't diminish the significance of what they're facing simply because it seems routine to you.
5. Report Folders Increase Patient Respect
Chiropractic care at its best, is when you have a willing partner ready to do their part. Again, medicine has trained most patients to believe that the drug or surgical intervention will make everything right and that the doctor will do all the heavy lifting. And while this may advance a god-like reputation and a "doctor's orders" mindset, this is generally not the chiropractic way.
Choosing to exercise, drink more water, keep their visit schedule and other self-care suggestions are choices. Which are made by patients when they are away from your direct supervision and influence. Investing in the patient by packaging your supporting report documents in an elegant report folder inspires many patients to rise to your expectations. Which in turn improves clinical outcomes. When you respect patients (you're worth it), patients are more likely to respect you.
6. Report Folders Win Over Skeptics
Optimally, you'd want the patient's spouse to attend your report of findings. Which can be difficult these days. That makes properly packaging your report of findings especially essential. You want to impress your patient, but also to reassure someone you may never get to meet. Who may be suspicious, wary or question your highest intentions.
That's why you'd want to be prepared to send every patient home with the materials that make your case and persuasively present your recommendations. This individual, whom you've never met, holds far more sway and influence than you. Help them support your recommendations with a report package that will enroll them in the possibilities you see for your newest patient.
7. Report Folders Increase Referrals
Have you ever asked established patients how they describe what you do? The blank stare or gurgling sounds coming from their mouth are reasons why you may not get the number of referrals you deserve. Many patients lack the ability to explain chiropractic in a way that wouldn't make your hair curl. Or turn prematurely gray.
When you give patients your report and supporting documentation in a professional package, you better equip them to explain (and defend) their decision to consult your practice. Which is something they will appreciate as much as you will. Providing evidence, along with simple, repeatable explanations moves chiropractic away from something you must believe in or have faith in to work. The happy result? More, high-quality referrals.
8. Report Folders Give Your Care Tangibility
Chiropractic care is an intangible service whose quality and value can only be ascertained upon receiving it. In other words, there is simultaneous production and consumption. In such situations, whether seeing a plastic surgeon, dinner at a new restaurant, a concert or a home security service, we look for surrogates that can serve as an indication of the quality we are likely to receive. It's not fair that we judge the automobile dealership by the cleanliness of their bathroom. Or that we assess the airplane engine maintenance by the coffee stains on the tray table, but we do.
Patients are doing the same thing in your practice.
They're evaluating everything from your website and how your CA answers the phone, to the cigarette butts in your parking lot and the condition of your carpet. That goes for your report of findings too. A high-quality chiropractic report of findings folder serves as a surrogate for the quality of your clinical care.
9. Report Folders Reduce Inappropriate Patient Questions
Since patients compare you with their experience with medical practitioners, it's important that you set appropriate expectations. That means choosing the right patient report folder.
Will I get medication for my pain?
How many visits will it take?
When will I feel better?
Are you a real doctor?
What kind of education to chiropractors get?
Moving a patient from a medical model to a chiropractic principled view of health takes time. And just because patients don't ask, it doesn't mean they don't have these and other types of questions! You'll want to use every tool at your disposal to head off inappropriate questions and expectations.
10. Report Folders Produce Greater Consistency and Impact
Finally, you want to give your most important patient communication the greatest consistency and impact. That means systematizing your reports. It means packaging your findings and recommendations in a way that will delight patients and advance your purpose.
If you aren't giving a formal report of findings, doing so may seem like a constraint. It isn't.
If you're giving a report of findings yet patients are dropping out after a visit or two, you'll want to dig deeper. Are you inadvertently minimizing the patient's problem? Do you receive regular, nonsymptomatic adjustments? Do you see chiropractic care as a short term "diet" or as a long-term lifestyle adjunct?
Personalize your reports. Avoid habituation. Enjoy the satisfaction of reporting your findings, delivering the goods and making the world a better place.