Don’t forget to follow up

 

Dr. Andrew Arnold (Chiropractor) talks about why formally checking in with your patients even after years of care is still important.

If you’ve been seeing a patient for a while you may have forgotten you still need to check in.

Early on most practitioners schedule formal progress reviews, I know I do. After the initial 6-8 visits there is a progress exam. This is a formal opportunity to check in with my patient. I get them to complete a questionnaire, tell me out of 10 where they are now at, they’re perception of whether or not treatment is on track, behind or ahead of schedule, any questions they may have, what else they perceive they may need to keep moving forwards and whether or not they want to keep with the treatment or look to a referral. 

In my experience, patients provide different information in this format that if I were to ask them.

At this point, with those patients who continue care into a more rehabilitative / maintenance process you may feel it unnecessary to continue formally checking in.

In my experience, if you don’t you and your clients will drift off track, get lazy and start to take the process for granted particularly as pain may not be a significant factor any more.

The regular formal review process tells the patient, they are still important and so is the process. It also conveys that you, the practitioner are still actively engaged in elevating them to the best possible health outcomes which may help ongoing compliance and adherence to treatment plans.

The regular formal review process is about asking your patients questions, always seeking to understand they’re ever changing needs and wants. 

In my view it’s the key to reducing longer term patient drop out. 

I recommend creating a formal review process every 8-10 visits early on in care and then maybe every 6thvisit when they are at monthly or less frequent. 

Irrespective, let your patients know the plan but also let them know the check in process happens each and every visit aswel. Patients sometimes feel the only opportunity to tell you what’s going on is at the progress visits which may set you up for an onslaught of feedback.

Regarding feedback, this is great opportunity to ask for direct feedback however, check in with your regulatory board / association regarding testimonial guidelines and of course patient consent before publishing.

Finally, think about creating several progress review templates over time. You should only need 4-6 versions appropriate to their stage of care.

Bottom line. The formal review process creates a shared decision making dynamic which supports the patient-doctor consensual relationship.

References:

 

Joosten E.A.G. DeFuentes-Merillas L. de Weert G.H. Sensky T. van der Staak C.P.F. de Jong C.A.J. Systematic Review of the Effects of Shared Decision-Making on Patient Satisfaction, Treatment Adherence and Health Status.

Psychother Psychosom 2008;77:219–226

About the Author:

Dr. Andrew Arnold (Chiropractor) is a founder: Million Dollar Wellness.

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