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New patients are the lifeblood of a sustainable acupuncture practice. We can’t expect all of our patients to come see us once a week indefinitely, so your clinic needs to maintain a steady stream of new patients. But it’s not enough to attract new patients. It’s just as important for them to return for follow-up appointments and complete their recommended treatment plan. Here are our top five tips to increase your new patient rate of return:
1. Create quick wins.
Acupuncture is great at helping feel better quickly, and most patients will leave your office feeling better than they did when they came in. Compare this with a traditional allopathic medical doctor’s office, where patients often leave with nothing more than a prescription and a referral to another doctor. Be sure to incorporate techniques that create quick wins—maybe points that promote relaxation, or your favorite quick pain relief points. Not only will it make your treatments more effective, it will also get people excited about returning for their next visit!
2. Focus on the chief complaint.
Most patients seek the help of an acupuncturist for a specific reason, such as back pain, insomnia or infertility. As you gather information to formulate a differential diagnosis, it’s important to signal to your patient that you understand why they’re seeking your help. The sooner their chief complaint starts to show improvement, the more likely they are to stick with their treatment plan.
3. Avoid information overload.
As acupuncturists, we can be so enthusiastic about our medicine that we overload our patients with too much information. Remember, patients don’t need to understand everything about qi, blood, meridians, zang fu theory and the five phases in order for acupuncture to help them. It’s easy for patients to get overwhelmed by lifestyle advice, education and good intentions. Try sharing small bits of information at a time, and stay focused on what’s most relevant to the patient’s chief complaint.
4. Remember the treatment plan!
This is arguably the most important element of a new patient appointment. How will a patient know often they should come in if you don’t tell them? A treatment plan is a tool that manages a patient’s expectations and helps ensure the best clinical results. Communicate it clearly and confidently, and check to make sure the patient understands it and can commit to it.
5. Be yourself.
New patients are often nervous about trying acupuncture for the first time. Authenticity goes a long way towards building trust and reassuring them that they’re in good hands. You have something unique to offer to your patients, so be confident, trust in your abilities, and don’t try to fake it. You can build long-term, sustainable relationships with your patients just by being yourself.
Increasing your new patient rate of return is all about building relationships from the very beginning. Clear expectations, intention and authenticity help foster trust and connection, so your patients can get the most out of their treatments from you. These five tips will not only help increase your rate of return, they’ll also encourage patients to refer their friends and family to you. That’s a win for your practice, your patients, and your community.
P.S. It’s easy to track your new patient rate of return in Open ACU using our Patient Return Rate report!
To learn more about Open ACU or schedule a demo, please contact us! We’d love to show you around.