What is your yardstick for measuring success in practice? For most of us, it's the reward of seeing your patients improve their health! Success is knowing that we are able to help people with the gift of Oriental medicine that has been entrusted to us.
Every time we reach a new person with our arts, we create another increment of success.
The problem is that having this purpose in our hearts and minds does not always translate into high levels of service delivery and efficiency in practice. This translation of thought into action may require more training. For many of us, these skills may not come naturally.
In my new practice, I struggled to see 15 people a week. I found this unsatisfying, because I knew how many people out there were suffering from migraines, allergies, digestive disturbances, congestive conditions, and other ailments that I could improve. There was also the financial side of things. I had to keep my personal needs very modest just so I could stay in practice. That made it difficult for me to ever see how I could support a wife or have a family.
After a year in practice, I found a way to learn the skills that allowed me to expand the scope of my practice and see 10 times the number of people I was seeing before, and deliver better care in each visit. The change really started with my learning how to operate off my real purpose as an acupuncturist - not just during the workday but day and night, every day of the week.
Here are the keys to a successful practice that I implemented to change my practice for the better, forever.
1. Being "on purpose" happens every moment you're awake. You've got to be willing to talk about your healing art both inside and outside of the office.
2. You must have a new patient system that constantly brings new people into the practice. New patients are the lifeblood of any practice. To keep the lifeblood of your practice from becoming deficient or stagnating, you must continually be willing to reach out into the public and inform people of what you can do for them.
3. There are two types of marketing that increase the numbers of new patients that come to you: marketing inside your office and marketing outside your office. "Inside your office" means new patients coming from referrals, in-office workshops, charity days, referral mailings, and recall. "Outside your office" means workshops, health screenings, advertising, direct mail, and networking.
4. The most effective way to contact a large number of new patients is via public outreach workshops. To fill those workshops requires precise advertising in effective locations. I suggest flier campaigns at upscale bookstores or coffee shops, and effective newspaper and news magazine ads. Among the hottest topics to advertise are weight loss, fibromyalgia, digestive trouble, arthritis, and women's hormone problems. An ad should include an effective title; bullet points (a list of items with a little dot in front of each) telling the reader what he or she will learn at the event; your photo and certification; and the date, time and location of the event.
5. When new patients come in, you have to know how to educate them about the true nature of your kind of care so they use it they way you do. In other words, they don't miss their appointments when they are sick, they come in sooner so they can heal faster. It takes time to truly re-orient a person's thinking about health care. They must fully understand the power and depth of your healing art.
6. An administrative system allows you to achieve the same result, every time you take up the same task. You need to have an administrative system that serves and enhances your purpose. The opposite of an administrative system is constantly "winging it."
As acupuncturists, we have one of the most effective solutions to human ailments in the world. There are no side-effects to carefully administered acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Oriental massage. We must take our message to those people who currently think that drugs are a solution. A physical problem requires a physical solution, not a chemical one.
Communicating this message continuously will bring in more new patients, increase your income, and enable you to live the life you want. Even more important than that, it starts you on your way to helping others in greater volume and to a greater depth.