Want to get people better faster and crush your consults? 3 ways to speak their language.
Words by Craig Hankridge
It sounds like a no brainer.
Get your patient's to understand their diagnosis, their prognosis and how you are going to get them from pain to performance ASAP. They follow our instructions, get better through each session and end up with a healthy endpoint raving about our skills.
Reality shows us that this doesn't always happen though, why? The key thing here is your patient's don't always pick up what we are putting down. Let's change that.
1) The background
Think back to where it all started. Maybe you began taking health-related subjects in high school, smashed through your specific health degree all the while consuming more and more information, experiences on placement and in clinic situations to maximise your learning and new skills within our industry. This armed you with specific terms, principles of thinking, models of diagnosis and treatment that help to shape who you are today. So what is the downside?
Problem: Your patients (more often than not) don't have this same background. When you use key terms such as tendinopathy, insertion, load capacity or tissue threshold your patient can get lost in this brand new language. They don't have the years, decade (or decades) of exposure to this health language to grasp what we are saying all the time. In your mind it is clear as crystal, in theirs it's the blackboard of equations from Good Will Hunting.
Solution: Choose your words wisely, compare scientific terms to real-world examples for clarity. Focus on a less is more approach and build off a platform of understanding with your patient. Some will want ALL of the details, others just want to be helped with minimal fuss.
2) The next-level clinical knowledge you possess
After all of that learning both formal and informal, all of the reading, videos and courses when a patient comes in with a problem you recognise, your brain is ready to explode with awesome content.
Problem: Often, this explosion is exactly what happens. (note - explosions aren't great). We get crazy passionate delivering all of the pearls of wisdom we have picked up, used previously to great effect and are absolutely key to this new patient's progression. The vital thing here is though, they don't NEED to know all of it.
If your car breaks down, do you need to know all of the parts and processes involved or just a basic outline from your mechanic to give you an idea of the time and cost involved to get it fixed?
When your tax return is getting done do you need to look up all of the possible income brackets, super contributions and deductions? Or can your accountant just provide an overview and get the job done?
Solution: Use your knowledge as an asset for both you and your patient. Explain what structures are involved and how they are working now versus how they should be working, the focus, Less. Is. More. Explain 'the gap' of where they are now and where they want to be. Most of all keep it short*.
If you couldn't explain it to a 10-year-old child, it is too complex.
*some people will want ALL of the detail they can get. In these cases build off your simple explanation with greater detail until they are satisfied. This isnt a one size fits all approach, it is more of a 'one size fits a majority'
3) The touchpoints
Imagine it is now one week into the future. You have taken our advice on board and have used the above points to create clarity with your patient. They have been nodding, asking good questions and now possess a good level of understanding about what has happened and how you can help. BUT then they leave.
Problem: Information overload.
Social media, TV, radio, Podcasts, emails, work, text, WhatsApp, the list of distractions and demands on our attention is enormous. So how likely is it for your patient who was so engaged and on board in your consult to now remember everything you have said (so magnificently may I add) with all of this white noise? Put simply, not great!
These aren't a form of scoring in a crazy new sport or a new tech innovation coming to your iphone. Touchpoints are the number of ways in which we can communicate with a patient.
- face to face
- printed exercises/management instructions
- YouTube videos
Use these touchpoints to your advantage. You could create a summary of their initial consultation (where most of the education happens) and print or email it to them that day. Or follow up with a phone call later in the week and see how they have been progressing. You can open up communication channels via email in case they have questions that arise in between consultations. More often than not these efforts make your job of getting them better SIGNIFICANTLY easier from day one (no pun intended).
This list is by no means foolproof or detailed enough to apply for every potential variable but it is a clear framework to build your consultations from. Each of your patients has the ability to maximise or minimise the speed of their progression in the time between consultations. Give your patients direction, clarity and empowerment and watch them do half of your job for you.
Interested in maximising your skills? We can help! Check out our tailored programs that take practitioners from good to world-class.