Patient-centered Approaches to Communications: Building Trust and Loyalty

The chiropractic industry is built on patient loyalty. Patients with chronic musculoskeletal issues will often stay with the same doctor of chiropractic their entire life, provided they receive the right level of service. This makes sense; Americans spend about $50 billion annually trying to treat back pain.

But the chiropractic landscape is also a highly competitive market; U.S. government figures estimate growth of around 4% between 2022 and 2029.

That means your chiropractic clinic needs to offer patients a professional and empathetic experience every time. If you don’t, you risk losing patients to another clinic. So how do you do that? It all starts with embracing a patient-centered approach to chiropractic care.

What is a Patient-centered Approach?

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defined “patient-centered care” as “[P]roviding care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

In terms of communication, this means creating a culture in which your clinic enables patients to connect and communicate in the ways they feel most comfortable.

How to Embrace Patient-centered Communication

There are several steps you can take to embrace patient-centered communication in your chiropractic clinic.

Eliminate time-specific support. Every patient works to a different schedule. They may be working nine to five. Or they may be on a night shift. The fact is, not everyone can call during office hours.

Besides that, there is also the early-morning bottleneck that comes with only allowing patients to book an appointment during office hours. Everyone calls at 8 a.m. to catch that first appointment, but your receptionists can only answer one call at a time. That poses a challenge for your receptionists and your patients.

When you allow patients to call your practice and book appointments 24/7, you prove you’re willing to operate according to their schedule. That’s an essential step in cementing your reputation as a patient-centered chiropractic clinic.

Use your patients’ preferred channels. Part of offering a more patient-centered approach is recognizing that every patient will have a preferred communication method. For some, that’s the traditional phone call. For others, it may be by direct message or email.

By being prepared to respond across channels, you can offer a more personalized experience for patients. But just as important as being present on multiple channels is being connected across these channels.

That means offering cross-channel support; switching between different mediums without making the patient repeat themselves. Of course, security demands you confirm a patient’s details each time they reach out. But passing patients between different departments should not require them to repeat their details multiple times. That means you need a coherent, connected system that can recognize patients as they switch between channels.

Adopt distraction-free communication. Most chiropractic clinics have an in-house receptionist. But a single receptionist can only answer one call at a time. If they’re currently fielding a call and another comes through, it’s not just their ability to respond that is limited. They can also face pressure to end the current call early or put the caller on hold to interact with the new caller.

Consider an outsourced virtual receptionist service to handle calls to your business, freeing up your receptionist to focus on in-person patient interactions. In this way, you can give both your in-office patients and callers a more focused experience. And that’s essential to the most important element of patient-centered communication.

Practice active listening. When chiropractic patients reach out, they need to know you are really listening. They might be frightened or in pain. They want a professional and empathetic response from a trained professional. To deliver that, you need to practice active listening with patients. Encourage them to ask questions and aim to address their concerns in clear language. Before asking patients to agree to a treatment, explain healthcare information and treatment options to put their minds at ease.

Create a feedback and improvement loop. You won’t nail your patient-centered approach immediately. Instead, view your approach as an organic, ever-developing process. To that end, you should request patient feedback after every appointment.

You can then use this feedback to improve your service and care delivery. Set timelines to review your service – combined with clinical reviews – and update your practices to enhance patient communication.


Stephanie Maharjan is a Brand Leader at WellReceived, a corporate member of the American Chiropractic Association, providing 24/7 virtual medical reception services. As a people-first company, WellReceived believes every patient should always reach a compassionate voice. Discover how WellReceived can help your chiropractic clinic today. Give us a call at: (800) 800-4449 to learn more.


Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio