09 Sep What Are You Doing About Drop Offs?
The DROP OFFS issue is a big thing. The first thing that you need to do with your drop-offs is to identify them. If you don’t know who (or how many) your drop-offs are, you don’t know whether you’re improving them.
Any step you take will bring about a change. I can’t stress this enough. I did nothing for years. I had no idea what my completed plan of care was or what my drop-offs were.
Somebody mentioned it — I ran from it like it was the plague because I didn’t like to talk about it. I was uncomfortable because I didn’t know what I was talking about. Then when I did start measuring the numbers, it made me feel bad about myself because they weren’t good. I wasn’t doing an excellent job. And so, I went on this mission, and that’s how I got here.
Let’s start by talking through the ATTRACTION PHASE: how we identify and attract the right patient into our system. A lot of what we do is focus on the drop-offs once the person gets there. In many cases, the drop-off happens way before the person gets there.
Now, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you screw something up, mess up, or don’t talk to the patient about something they wanted to speak to you about. You’re not addressing their goals. There are a ton of factors inside. But right now, I want to talk about the drop-offs that happen before they ever even get there.
TARGETING. Targeting our patients is a whole new kind of thing for a lot of therapists. For a lot of years, we had people who sent us patients, and we didn’t have to do anything. Patients just showed up at our doorstep, and we’re like, “Oh, hey, great! We got a new patient. Bring him in!” Things have changed now, and we’re learning how to market.
When you’re MARKETING, you can’t target anybody. It would be best if you were diving in and identifying your avatar. You need to know exactly who you’re looking at: what your ideal customer looks like and where they are coming from.
As you’re doing Facebook ads and free content on-air, you must ensure that the right message gets in front of the right person. You must ensure you’re getting the right person to your facility at the right time. If not, they will drop off just because they’re not a good fit for what you do, and then it worsens.
It snowballs on you. Now, they tell other people that you aren’t that great. Maybe somebody who is a good fit for you is gone because you tried to bring the wrong person in.
A lot of this is done upfront. This is our MESSAGING. It is critical to nail what we’re telling people (about our practice), how we’re telling them, and identify who needs to hear our message. Addressing the message before the patient gets it is enormous.
I hear this problem all the time. I’m interested in how many people have noticed the same thing: patients come in, and they say, “Oh, hey! I was with my doctor, and we started talking about several things about surgery, MRIs, imaging… but they told me they want me to try physical therapy first.“
The word “TRY.” The doctor inadvertently set you up for a certain degree of failure by using the word “try.” They don’t tell people to try surgery. They tell them, “You need surgery.” So why would they ask them to try therapy? They don’t tell them to try this medication to see if it improves them. They say, “Here, take this medication.“
We start out behind the eight ball a little bit, which is why it is so important. You have to identify and address that right up front. The first person who will talk to them has to reset that mindset.
If you could go one step further, you could get to the physician and have a good relationship with them; you can show them research that shows that the words they’re using with a patient directly relate to the patient’s outcome. Any intervention they do, research shows that the WORDS they use now IMPACT the OUTCOME of what they’ve done.
If they’re telling their patient, “Try physical therapy,” it implies in the mind of the patient that failure in this is a real possibility. Surgery rates for certain things like stenosis are worse than therapy. Therapy has better outcomes, yet they never say, “We’re going to try surgery.” They tell their patients that they need surgery.
You need to converse with these doctors and tell them how they’re setting their patients up for failure by using the word “try.” Just that one little word — changing it from “try” to “need” or “get” is enormous for the outcomes of these patients. It is going to allow the patients to help them feel better. That word “try” is considerable.
When the first phone call comes in your front office, you’re not always the first person who hears this. In most cases, you aren’t. The first person who hears this is your receptionist, the person answering the phone call. They pick up the phone and say, “Hello! How can I help you?” They will tell the receptionist, “Hey! My doctor said that I need to try physical therapy.” Is your receptionist on the phone addressing this right up front?
It needs to be addressed right then and right there regarding the word “try.” The receptionist needs to say, “Well, we’re going to do a little more than ‘try.’ We have great success with whatever, and Ray is great with this.” We need to reframe that expectation on the patient’s part. We need to reframe that they believe they might fail because if they believe they might fail, a certain percentage of these people will fail.
We need to EDUCATE right up front and say, “We don’t ‘try.’ We’re very successful with what we do here. Ray, Tom, Joe, or whoever is a great therapist. They are so great at this.” A lot of this starts at the beginning.
With our advertising, we can control this a little bit more. We’re now able to identify the people we want, target them, advertise specifically to them, create the messaging, and use the words necessary to ESTABLISH yourself as the expert. If they believe you’re the expert and they believe that you’re good, your outcomes are going to be better. Pretty much any research that you look at, there is an indisputable fact that if they believe in you, they’re going to get better; if they don’t believe in you, they’re not.
This happens on the front end with that first phone call. This is Jerry Durham’s thing: you need to slow down that first phone call. It can’t be just data collection. This is their first interaction with your business. You need to slow down, and you need to have a conversation with them. It would be best to show them that you’re different, why you’re distinct, what you do, and why they believe they’re in the right place.
Again, we’re back to the “KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST” thing. It would help if you used this opportunity to get them to know you, to get them to like you, to get them to trust you. If you don’t, your drop-offs will go up, or they’re not going to be as low as they should because it is imperative that we slow that first phone call down and create this relationship.
That’s the only goal of all of this — the only goal of me, of my software, of the drop-offs, of patient experience, of advertising — the only goal is to build a relationship with these people and to establish yourself as the expert. You need to use every opportunity.
We’re going to get into this a lot more, into the advertising aspect of this, specifically within your clinic: the steps you need to take to create this relationship, build it, maintain it, foster it, and grow it. How you stop drop-offs is by developing that relationship. Many drop-offs say that their reasons for dropping vary due to personal and financial matters. If somebody drops off due to personal or financial reasons, something else is happening. They don’t know you; they don’t like you, or they don’t trust you.
We all know that these people are probably still going out to eat, buy a newer car in the next couple of years, buy a new television, or spend money on stuff. What they’re telling you is, “I don’t know you. I don’t like you. I don’t trust you to get me better. I don’t believe what you’re telling me will improve my life.” So they drop off.
It starts from the very beginning. That expectation from the first contact when their doctor tells them to try physical therapy, we’re already in a hole, and we’ve got to dig out of that. They call in, and we first collect data and get them on the schedule—another missed opportunity. We just collected their data, scheduled them, and said, “Hey! We’ll see you then, and everything’s great.” And then they drop off.
Another big drop-off thing that we’re going to address and discuss is your EMR. Your EMR costs you money. I can pretty much guarantee it because the first thing you do when your patient walks in after you’ve worked so hard to get them in the front door is when you set your computer down between you and them and then stare at your computer half of the time when they’re in with you.
Then you wonder why they don’t come back. They didn’t come for you to stare at your computer. We have to address that and get that to a minimum. That’s what we are experts in at SelfDoc.