In part VIII of this series I discussed how experience and knowledge breeds the confidence that will help make you a great teacher. I will conclude this particular newsletter subject by discussing the effective use of oral communication in teaching your patients. As I conclude this subject, I would like to thank those readers who have written to tell us how these newsletters are helping them build and manage their practices. If you would like a particular subject addressed or simply have some suggestions for future newsletters, please write us at email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
The Use of Scripts
The use of scripts to answer your patients´ most common questions will help you respond in the most accurate, time efficient, patient educating manner. A script in its true meaning is written words, letters or figures; it is a style of handwriting; a manner or method of forming letters or figures; or the manuscript, or a copy of the text.’ As they pertain to your chiropractic practice, scripts are well thought out responses to patients´ questions, prepared ahead of time and memorized. They are words, phrases, sentences and even concepts that are used to give quick, concise responses that will help your patients better understand what you are communicating to them.
Scripts are also used to impress the patient with your knowledge, without being overly verbose or boring.
Do You Have a Problem with Scripts?
Some doctors have a psychological hang-up when it comes to using scripts. These doctors feel that it´s deceitful to use scripts because they are memorized sentences and can be rattled off to their patients without much effort. Well, if the content of your scripts is deceitful, then you are correct. But if the content of your scripts is true, honest and accurate, you are not being deceitful you are simply being prepared.
Some doctors feel that responses to patients´ questions should be spontaneous and in the moment,’ kind of a que sera, sera’, what will be, will be’ type of attitude. Well, unless you want to wing it’ and risk making a fool of yourself by giving inaccurate responses in an unprofessional manner, you need to change that attitude. You are not going to impress or educate anyone if you don´t give valid, complete and precise answers to your patients´ questions.
No Scripts = Poor Communication
Giving inaccurate or incomplete answers to patients´ questions is an exercise in poor communication. By not properly preparing your responses (using scripts), you most assuredly are wasting valuable time for you and your patients, and creating more confusion than education for them.
Although scripts are important and most definitely useful, practical and commonly used in most every business, there are some important factors to consider. Just as each person has a unique fingerprint so, too, does each person have a unique word print.’ Word print is a method of how we use and how often we use certain words. It is unique to each person.
Let me give you an example of word printing. Let us say that an author is in the process of finishing a novel. There are 22 chapters in the book and he is half way through the last chapter when he has a sudden heart attack and dies. Another person comes along and finds the unfinished manuscript. This person has always wanted fame and fortune as a writer but he really did not have the talent to achieve it. Now, he sees an opportunity.
He takes the manuscript, reads it, and then decides to finish the book on his own. He does not tell anyone and he sends the finished manuscript with his name on it as author to a publisher. The publisher is impressed and decides to publish the book, which ultimately becomes a wonderful success. The phantom author is now rich!
Now, the wife of the deceased happens to see the book in the store, purchases it, reads it and realizes that it was her husband´s manuscript. But, she does not have a copy of it to prove it. She knows her husband was finishing the last chapter before he died because she was reading it. How does she prove it?
What she can do is take this case to experts of statistical studies on word printing. These experts can establish a person´s word print by looking at a pattern of about 18 commonly used words. In matching the word print, they can easily determine that the last chapter was written by two different people - the original author who wrote the previous chapters and someone else. Then all they have to do is match the word print of the suspect to the word print that is only present in the last chapter and it´s bye-bye riches, hello vertical steel bars!
Be True to Your Word Print
What does all of this have to do with you? My point is this. Don´t get hung up on thinking you have to follow someone else´s script exactly as written. Going back to the word script,’ it is a style of writing.’ Each of us has a different style of speaking,’ different word prints.’ There is more than one way to say the same thing and get the same desired results you need to find what works the best and most professional for you.
Let me give you another example. The way that one person greets another person is how one feels comfortable. Let´s say that Bill likes to say, Good morning Mr. Smith, it is so nice to see you. How are you today? How is your family?’ Whereas Tom sounds much more sincere and genuine when he says, Well how are you doing Jim? How are things going? Is the family doing well?’ If you look at both of these scripts you can see there is really no difference. The concept in the content, which is the most important aspect of the script, is there. Each person has used his own word print’ or script,’ which is his true style of speaking. Since he is using his own style of speaking, he feels comfortable and his words come across natural and sincere to the receiver. If he does not do it this way, his way, he can end up sounding like one of those telemarketers who robotically delivers his telephone script to you pretty annoying and unbelievable. I guarantee you that squeezing yourself into someone else´s word print will cause you to lose lots of patients!
By adapting a script to fit your style of speaking, you will feel more confident and natural in what you are saying. But, you still need to develop your script, write it down and then memorize it. You won´t say it exactly the same way to each person because we speak differently to people of different classes, ages and sex. But, the important thing is that you will have all the elements that need to be expressed, memorized. It is that preparedness that will help you achieve the results you desire.
In closing, remember educating your patients is vital to the success of your practice and it´s as simple as 1, 2, 3:
1. Accept your role as a teacher
2. Learn how to teach
3. Teach your patients at every opportunity
If you want to learn more about patient education go to MBA Marketing with Patient Education" hosted by Dr. Thomas E. Cavanaugh, D.C., MBA.