When you’re just starting out your practice, it’s tempting to take on every type of patient regardless if they’re a great fit or not. You don’t want to turn anyone away because:
- you have a genuine heart to help others
- you need patients in order to build your practice and quite frankly, keep the lights on
But having a “come one, come all” approach can get you into hot water. You may find that you’re accepting patients who have conditions you’re not passionate about treating… or even worse, you take on a patient that’s not the best fit, and you’re soon faced with the realization you need to let them go.
When the patient relationship gets to this point, it can feel sooooo hard to know what to do. Do you continue to try and work with the patient, even though you know it’s not serving either of you very well? That seems like a stressful option and a total energy drainer. Is it better to just abruptly end the patient relationship? That also feels like a painful route to take…
My friend, it helps to remember that not every patient is the RIGHT patient.
Some would truly be better served by other practitioners, and that’s perfectly okay! While we can’t avoid those poor patient fits 100% of the time, there is a way to steer clear of the heartache from the get-go. Here are three powerful strategies to help you do just that.
1. Determine if Your Current Patients Are an Ideal Fit
There’s one type of patient that you absolutely love working with. You know everything about them and their condition(s). You need to know their ins and outs so well that you can spot them a mile away. Having a depth of knowledge about who you really want to serve will save your bacon and be the key to your practice’s success.
My friend, that person is known as your ideal patient.
You’ve probably heard me talk about this before but it’s soooooo incredibly important that I’m going to touch on it again. Without a doubt, you must know who your ideal patient is. This will help you determine whether a new patient will be the best fit for your practice or not.
But being in lockstep with your ideal patient can also help you with your current patient load. It helps you answer the question, “Do my current patients mirror my ideal patient… or not?”
We’ve all experienced patients who we know aren’t the best fit. I know you really want to help them, but sometimes, the greatest gift you can give that patient is to refer them to another practitioner better suited to meet their needs and/or personality.
Sometimes we forget that we’re human and so are our patients. It’s perfectly natural to get along with some personalities and worldviews better than others. And it’s OK to make adjustments so that you and your patients have the best experience possible.
If you’ve run into this in your practice and need some help in knowing how to graciously end a patient relationship, I’ve got you covered. I sat down not too long ago and recorded a podcast episode on this very topic. If podcasts aren’t your thing, check out the 10 Signs Your Patient May Not Be the Best Fit blog for some extra tips.
2. Know Which Patients Are Ideal Before You Agree to Help
Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to know what you’re getting into with a patient before you agree to take them on? Well, you can!
I just did a recent podcast episode on this topic. In it, I dished all the juicy details on how to pre-screen your patients before they ever step foot into your office. Doing this upfront takes a little legwork, but I’m telling you… it WILL save you a TON of stress and headache.
3. Decide What to Do When a Great Patient Goes South
Let’s say you pre-qualified a potential patient, and they passed with flying colors. You enthusiastically set up that initial appointment with them, and life is rosy and full of rainbows. But over time, things change. Your patient starts expecting you to respond to their emails during the evenings or over the weekend. They’re getting a bit demanding, and you’re feeling a bit caught off guard.
Red flags may be waving, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. First, try and find out what’s going on.
- Has something happened medically that could cause this change in behavior?
- Are they scared about something with their health and are trying to regain control?
- Do they feel more comfortable with you and are unintentionally becoming overly casual?
Understanding the reason behind their behavior gives you helpful insights on what to do next. It’ll help you to know if you simply need to reestablish boundaries, refer them to another practitioner, or take another course of action altogether.
Choose Patients That Are The Perfect Fit
The most effective way to make sure you have patients that are perfectly suited for you is knowing how to identify them ahead of time. Being proactive up-front will help you filter out the ones who aren’t right for you, allowing you to accept the ones who will be amazing to work with.
So, start putting together a short list of questions that’ll help you identify your perfect patient when they call – questions that help you get to the heart of their health journey, what their goals are, and where their mindset is at. If you’re not sure what those questions should be, go check out the Why You Should Prequalify Your Patients podcast episode mentioned above in #2.
And for a little extra help, be sure to check out my list of 10 pre-qualifying questions that I use regularly to make sure the patient will fit like a glove in my practice.
My friend, you deserve to have patients who light your world on fire. It’s worth taking the steps now to identify and attract the people you were meant to serve. Your business, your patients, and your heart will thank you.