Clinic Marketing At Christmas – what you can be doing now to grow your practice in 2013

We have just booked our office Christmas party, wow that was painful! 

In many ways the decision-making process we used to plan our Christmas party is like a back pain sufferer’s decision as to where they should go to get help and treatment.

There are five ways we can choose our Christmas party location or a clinic for our back pain:

1/ Somewhere we have been to before
2/ Somewhere which is recommended to us by someone who has been before
3/ Somewhere we have heard of or somehow know about
4/ Somewhere, someone we know has heard of or somehow knows about
5/ A place nobody knows about and we go looking to ‘find’ 

Our Christmas party location search process went like this:

First, various names of locations were presented and discussed.  After the rejections, a new Chinese Party Restaurant nobody could remember the name of began to get favourable comments.

From the location and description I then remembered I had seen it advertised in a free local town A5 magazine … which I had put in my recycling box just the previous day!

I dug it out, got the number and rang.  Sadly it was fully booked, (no Karaoke for us – phew!)

Eventually, after digging up various location names and finding websites through Google and evaluating what they were like from the look of their website, we settled on our choice, phoned and booked.

IMPORTANT – One place we called went straight to answer phone. Given concerns about actually getting in on the date we wanted (needed!), we didn’t bother leaving a message and carried on until we got somewhere which could accommodate us.

This same thing happens with prospective patients who are taking action to get help but can’t talk to anyone, they go to the next clinic.

CLINIC MARKETING

Applying this example to clinic marketing, word of mouth (1 & 2) is often the default clinic marketing strategy, which neglects 3,4 or 5 leaving prospective patients to go elsewhere.

It goes without saying that your website needs to be findable and inviting for prospective patients.

Working with IDD Therapy providers, we stress the importance of groundwork marketing, i.e. laying the foundations of awareness consistently for tomorrow’s patients to know (like and trust) you.

ESTATE AGENTS

I got a great example of one way to do this the other week when I got a flyer through my letter box from an estate agent.  Big and bold, it explained that if I was selling my house in 2013, they would be the best people to help me.

It wasn’t a “buy now or regret for the rest of your life” message.  It just planted the awareness seed.

PRACTICAL CLINIC STEP

It costs so little to print a couple of thousand A5 leaflets (see www.saxoprint.co.uk)  Between Christmas and New Year, your clinic will be quiet and most people will be at home, bored.

Having piled on the pounds through over-eating, why not use the time productively. Put on your trainers and work off some turkey by delivering leaflets to let people in your community know that you are the Go-To clinic in the event that at some point in the future, they need some clinician services.  Plant that seed.

Importantly for you, unlike estate agents and pizza companies who compete with one another, you will have an open field and no competing voices (just see how many such messages you get from your competitors over the break. Any?).

If you don’t want to do it yourself, as a guide, my local leaflet delivery company in Bishops Stortford charges £45 per thousand leaflets.  Don’t just wait for the phone to ring in January, be proactive now.

If you would like a map of how you can market your clinic consistently in 2013, request a free copy of our 12 x 12 marketing report and map using the form below.  It’s short and sweet and you can read it over the break.

Enjoy your Christmas party!

Posted By: Stephen Small
www.SteadfastClinics.co.uk

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Back Pain Treatment: How mechanical treatment can help manual therapists treat back pain.

I am often asked why committed manual therapists treating back pain use the mechanical treatment tool, IDD Therapy.

There isn’t a short answer as there is so much which goes into the IDD Therapy programme, however one reason relates to the actual physical limitations of the hands and body.

The spine is incredibly strong and in certain ways, it is impossible to comfortably decompress chronically stiff and immobile spinal segments with the hands alone.  I made this short video at my local gym to graphically illustrate when and how the IDD Therapy treatment tool comes to the aid of the manual therapist.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/4TbfCB65aq8]

It is important to stress that manual therapists use IDD Therapy for certain patients only.

This is not an industrial revolution style event of machine vs man.  Nothing can replace the sensitivity and dexterity of the hands, but there comes a time when patients need something more for their pain, which the hands-only treatment model cannot help.

IDD Therapy allows clinicians to comfortably distract and mobilise targeted spinal segments, with sufficient force and for sufficient time to have a therapeutic effect.  This is the essence of what sets IDD Therapy spinal decompression apart from traditional traction and why IDD Therapy is used by increasing numbers of manual therapists.

I should emphasise that IDD Therapy is not a stand-alone treatment.  It is a complete programme of spinal care which combines manual therapy, exercise and other modalities to help clinicians do more for back pain sufferers.

If you have any questions about IDD Therapy treatment, let us know in the box below or for more details visit European IDD Therapy representatives www.SteadfastClinics.co.uk

Posted by: Stephen Small

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The Seven Pillars of a Painless Practice Book Review

The Seven Pillars of a Painless Practice is a must-read business development book for any clinic owner or would-be clinic owner.

Written by highly regarded clinician coaches, James Butler and Celia Champion of ‘Painless Practice’, the Seven Pillars is a straightforward framework which will make you think about the purpose of why you go to work, it will help you understand your ultimate goals and vision for your clinic and most importantly it will be your guide for what you need to do in between!

Established clinic owners may be aware of the elements in the book but so few take or have the time to stop, think and connect everything to get the most from their business.

Anyone on a journey of personal development will have already grasped common concepts relevant to all businesses, it is then about finding those golden nuggets which are your catalyst to take your clinic to the next level. The Seven Pillars has plenty of nuggets.

To buy the book or read the first chapter CLICK HERE.

I have known James and Celia for a number of years.  At a time when competition is growing and when long gone are the days of putting a sign on your door and an ad in the Yellow Pages to get the phone ringing, the book is well worth a read.

I read it in two evenings and made a lot of notes.  The Seven Pillars has plenty of ideas, illustrations and blank forms where you can jot down elements for your own business.  It also has the authors’ trademark sense of humour 🙂 and includes many quotes and practical references.

Final Word

As with all good business or life coaching books and audio programmes, the value comes not from the reading but when you actually pick up a pen afterwards and take action.

Want to do more in your clinic? You can buy the book or read the first chapter by CLICKING HERE

Posted by: Stephen Small
www.SteadfastClinics.co.uk

Exercise Compliance: Improving Exercise Compliance in Chronic Back Pain Patients Using a Pocket Diary.

This article examines the question of how to improve rehabilitation exercise compliance.  This is particularly important for patients who are recovering from chronic back pain who have lost the discipline of regular activity.

Assuming that the prescribed exercises are not unduly painful, the question is not “how do we help people to exercise more”, rather it is “how do we help people to develop self-discipline”.  

Evidence from other industries demonstrates that setting goals and keeping a diary of the new habit is the most effective way to maintain self-discipline to arrive at a goal.  I propose the use of pocket diaries as a key tool to improve rehabilitation exercise compliance for people with chronic back pain.

At the bottom of this post you can get a word document which explains to patients the purpose of the diary and how they can benefit from using the diary (you can have this in your patient info folder in reception or to give to new patients.)

Background

How many clinics just give their patients a set of printed or hand written exercise instructions and essentially leave it to the patient to get on with it … or not?  I hear it all the time, patients don’t do their exercises.

Patients are people, who are also in pain.  Think of one thing you should do more of?  Why don’t you?

Is it to do regular exercise, weekly budgeting, retirement planning, investment evaluation, losing weight?

Whatever it is, it’s not about the thing, it’s about self-discipline.  To tackle exercise compliance therefore is to tackle self-discipline.

It is often said that the best innovation comes not from thinking “outside of the box”, but from thinking “Inside a different box”.  So let’s leave exercise and examine what other industries do to instill and create self-discipline.

Thinking Inside A Different Box

Here are some examples of how other industries develop self-discipline:

Personal Development: In order to develop habits to get you to where you want in life, it is universally acknowledged that we need goals.  Not just any goals, but WRITTEN down goals.  (See Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Bryan Tracey et al)

Financial: ‘Too much month, not enough money’? (Michael Heppel).  What is the first recommendation of any financial advisor when someone is having trouble making ends meet?  Write down and record everything you spend.  Then write down a budget and stick to it and record what you spend.

Weight Loss:  You’ve seen the programmes of people who have been clinically obese for years.  First they begin by recording everything they eat.  Then they measure and write down their key stats, then they set a diet/lifestyle plan and as they begin they monitor and write down what they did and how they progress.

School Homework:  My youngest daughter has a reading diary.  Her school expects her to read something every day and then write down what she read with comments from a parent.  In her mind, it is not an option for her to arrive at school without her teacher being able to see she has read something – even if that means reading in the car on the way to school!

The pattern is emerging and it isn’t rocket science.  What about exercise?

Olympic athletes: They write down and plan every training session and write down what they actually did in that training session.  It is impossible to reach that level without planning and recording.

Gym-goers: There are gym goers who arrive with a diary.  They have planned their exercise and they tick off what they do as they go around the different cardio and strength stations.  Whenever I do this myself, my workouts are 100% more effective … and fulfilling.

PATIENT EXERCISE COMPLIANCE

My principal interest is helping chronic back pain patients who have IDD Therapy Spinal Decompression treatment progress through their rehabilitation exercises.  However, this works for any patient who NEEDS to be doing exercise for rehabilitation.

Pocket Diary:  Patients should use a simple pocket diary to record their activity.  

GOAL: On the first page they should write down their goal, strictly with a timeframe but that can be difficult for certain patients and there is a balance of compliance and unrealistic patient expectation.

PLAN 1: Give your patient the exercises they need to perform and give each exercise a short name.  The patient will write down short names for each exercise they are going to perform in their diary.  It is important that THEY write them in THEIR diary to hardwire their brain into the process.

PLAN 2:  You should help them plan their first month of when and how many of each exercise they are going to do (this can include a walk to the shop to buy the paper).  Here you will identify the time slots when it is feasible for them to actually fit the exercise in.  Yes, we can all make time, but collecting kids from a swimming lesson or going to the pub with a friend creates excuse opportunities.

When you finish writing the plan, ask them one important question:  “Are you going to do it?”

HABIT: It is well documented that it takes 30 days to form a habit.  You need to hold their hand for that first month.  By setting achievable targets they are more likely to be able to ACCOMPLISH the targets.  That brings personal reward, fulfilment, belief and … self-discipline.

RECORD: Patient is going to write down EVERY activity they did and every exercise they did.  They have to write it down in their diary.

Exercise is self-discipline and comes from within.  If they need to get a buddy or partner involved, or even a personal trainer to help them, great, whatever works.

HOMEWORK 

The killer point about the diary is the need to please others, ie you and not to lose face.

They have a written down plan and they have made a personal commitment to you and themself, verbally.

Tell them you want to see them in two weeks (or a month) and ask them to bring their (homework) diary.  You are holding them accountable and the inky plan on the pages of their diary is far more likely to hold them accountable to their activity than an idea floating in their head, some scribbles on a piece of paper or an exercise video sitting in their inbox.

DIARIES 

You can get some branded pocket diaries very cheaply, or just have plain ones.  The cost is minimal so as a “value added service”, you can just give the diary to your patient or sell them at cost/ small profit.

CONCLUSION

Doing anything is always better than nothing.  The diary helps instill the self-discipline to do what is required to help resolve chronic back pain.

Doing what is required leads to improvement and reduced pain.  Improvement reinforces beliefs about what is possible.  Beliefs reinforce self-discipline.  Self-discipline leads to doing what is required, doing what is required leads to improvement …

Off the vicious and onto the virtuous circle. 

To receive a document which explains to patients the purposes of using the diary as part of your compliance process, complete the form below.

About the Author
Stephen Small is Director of Steadfast Clinics Ltd
www.SteadfastClinics.co.uk

Conflict of interest:  None

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FAR Infrared: The Reinvention of FAR Infrared (FIR) Therapy as a Clinical Modality to Help Relieve Pain, Assist Rehabilitation and Aid Healing.

This article is intended to raise awareness of the clinical benefits of heat therapy and to improve understanding of the growing evidence supporting the non-thermal effects and benefits of FAR infrared (FIR) therapy.

Background

Use of heat as part of physical therapy treatment is not common because heating product applications have tended to be cumbersome, time-consuming to apply and carry the risk of causing burns.  Whether boiling gel packs straight from a hydrocollator or a wheat bag from the microwave, the impracticality of heat has meant that in practical terms, it is rarely used.

Thermal therapy is largely ignored by western mainstream manual therapy professions and there is very little awareness of the clinical application and effects of FAR infrared for pain relief and as an aid to healing.

Heat, notably moist heat, is used primarily to provide comfort and ease chronic pain and stiffness.  Evidence shows that heat can increase the extensibility of soft tissues and thus aid mobility.

FAR infrared is a resonant energy and was traditionally applied for a variety of conditions using an infrared lamp.  The lamps went out of vogue because of the awkward application, the risk of skin drying from the visible light component of some of the bulbs and the potential risk of eye damage.

Carbon Fabric Infrared ElementA new generation of carbon fabric infrared elements is rapidly emerging which deliver heat quickly and conveniently from a safe FAR infrared heat source which can be moulded to the joint or easily applied to the painful area.

The new carbon fabric infrared elements are used predominantly in the markets where they are made, namely Asia.  Scientific research to understand the mechanisms which drive observed clinical outcomes of FAR infrared therapy, for a variety of conditions, is thus centred in China and Taiwan.

Evidence-Base

The evidence-base for heat therapy and FIR therapy is diverse and compelling.  There is significant growth in scientific interest in the non-thermal effects of FIR therapy itself, whilst the convenience of the carbon fabric heat element enables clinicians interested in the benefits of thermal therapy, to have a tool which they can practicably use to help patients.

I have collated studies and papers and experiments to highlight the diversity of questions and depth of analysis about the thermal and non-thermal effects of FIR energy and the benefits of using heat to relieve pain. Click here to see INFRARED EVIDENCE.

Here is an example of one of the references:

FAR Infrared treatment leads to a 57% decrease in pain for patients with 6 year chronic low back pain.
Forty patients with chronic low back pain of over six years’ duration. Mean NRS scores in the FIR treatment group fell from 6.9 of 10 to 3 of 10 at the end of the study. The mean NRS in the placebo group fell from 7.4 of 10 to 6 of 10. The FIR therapy unit used was demonstrated to be effective in reducing chronic low back pain and no adverse effects were observed.

Gale GD, Rothbart PJ, Li Y. Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Pain Research and Management 2006,11(3):193-196
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2539004/

It is my intent that you will be able to connect insights from the different studies and articles to raise your own questions to develop new hypotheses regarding the use and application of FAR Infrared Therapy to manage pain and assist injury rehabilitation.

Final Word

FAR infrared provides a safe, non-invasive, cost-effective therapeutic modality which is easy to administer.

I have witnessed and heard countless anecdotal public and clinical examples of how patients with a variety of chronic conditions have experienced pain relief over-and above what they have been able to receive from standard moist heat, cold therapy, electrotherapy or indeed pharmacological treatments.

That is not evidenced-based, however such a wealth of comments and observations begs many profound questions to clearly understand and explain the reported outcomes.

I have no doubt that the new FAR infrared technology will have wide reaching accepted applications in a variety of fields as awareness and scientific research into the benefits of FAR infrared expands.

One might go so far as to imagine the time when GPs will prescribe FAR infrared as a therapeutic modality in the place of medication, for certain conditions.

To see the new caron-fabric FAR infrared applications visit www.thermedic.co.uk or www.steadfastclinics.co.uk

If you are interested in using Infrared in your clinic or would like more details, please use the form below to request an information pack.

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