Findings from an interesting survey conducted recently by GE Healthcare provide insight into how people around the world make decisions about their health care.1 While much of the survey focused on healthy lifestyles and cancer, it makes two important points that are keys to helping consumers better understand when they need to see their doctor of chiropractic:
"8 out of 10 American adults will self-diagnose any symptoms prior to visiting a healthcare specialist." It is not surprising that in today's Information Age, people want to find out what is wrong with them (or at least have an idea) prior to going to seeing a health care provider. This suggests that consumers are less trusting of health care providers than they were 20 years ago, when a person generally went to their doctor first to find out what was "wrong" with them, health-wise. This also suggests that most consumers will make the initial decision about which provider they will present their ailment to based on their perceived health condition.
The GE Healthcare report of its survey findings goes on to state that among those who self-diagnose, "91% will visit medical websites, with just under a third (30%) referring to medical textbooks or journals." This suggests very strongly that consumers know they don't possess the necessary training or information to make their self-diagnosis, but believe they can find the information if they look hard enough.
There is a great opportunity here for the chiropractic profession at large and you as an individual doctor of chiropractic. Chiropractic (particularly you, the DC) can provide some positive, concise answers to the questions typically asked by a person who is attempting to diagnose their own pain. You can explain what the different types of pain are and how they relate to what may be the problem they are experiencing.
Chiropractic begins from a conservative perspective, so our answers will begin with the least aggressive starting point. This will be very reassuring to most patients, who would rather forego surgery – and hopefully drugs – in exchange for less risky care.
2. Family Influences Health
"Just over three quarters (77%) of American adults are influenced by family when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle" More than three-quarters of consumers will listen to their family members when it comes to their health, according to survey results. Family members are the most influential, beating out a "medical professional" at 70 percent. Friends / colleagues came in third at 65 percent.
This means that if you educate and inform a mother, father, etc., they have the potential (on average) to influence 77 percent of their family members and 65 percent of their friends. That makes every well-informed patient an extremely effective source of referrals to your practice.
People talk about their health care experiences. What they say about their experiences with your care continually updates your reputation in your community (for better or worse). If their experiences are positive, it can also translate into positive reviews on the web, assuming you are encouraging your patients to post such reviews. (Of course, negative experiences may also be related on the web, emphasizing the importance of providing quality care.)
Perhaps it's time to look for some simple ways to communicate to your community when they should be thinking about you. Maybe you can create a simple message that will cause patients to tell others about chiropractic. How about something like: "Four signs your body is telling you to go see your doctor of chiropractic." You can fill in the specific details as they apply to your philosophy and practice.
Creating something that is easy to remember and understand can go a long way toward helping people in your area understand when it is time to make an appointment with you. It can also make it easy for your patients to talk to their family and friends. You might even want to add something like this to your website:
"Four out of five people in your area will take to the Internet in order to help them understand what the pain in their body could mean. Putting yourself in a position to be included in their consideration is vital. But they need information to understand the role chiropractic can play in their care."
Give people the information they need to make the right choices for their health. After all, that's a big part of our job.
- GE Healthcare GetFit Consumer Research Results, June 2013.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.