Patients seek chiropractic care for pain relief, improved functionality, and overall wellness.
To keep patients informed and to keep treatment plans on track, chiropractors must continuously assess the progress that’s being made. However, because patients have different concerns, receive different treatments, and respond differently to care, the criteria for evaluating results is not always clear.
Patients need to know if their treatment is having an effect. While some benefits are obvious and immediate, it’s also important to keep patients tuned into the more gradual progress that’s being made, as they experience subtle but steady improvements in areas like daily pain, functionality, and energy levels.
Today, we’re reviewing the importance of progress assessment. In the sections below, we’ll discuss the tools, techniques, and principles of evaluating and communicating the progress achieved during chiropractic care.
Assessing Patient Progress: Quantitative Measures
Quantitative measures are important for tracking patients’ progress objectively. Quantitative measures also provide data that may be pooled for research purposes or to evaluate the success of particular interventions.
Useful quantitative measures for chiropractic include:
- Scales and questionnaires for measuring pain and function, such as the Visual Analog Scale (VAS), the Numeric Rating Scale, and the Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire
- Range of motion and flexibility tests
- Posture assessments
- Functional activity tests
Quantitative assessments help practitioners and patients to compare progress against goals. Assessment results are also used to inform modifications to treatment plans.
Assessing Patient Progress: Qualitative Measures
Qualitative measures complement quantitative data in evaluating chiropractic treatment effectiveness. Qualitative information is less easy to track and compare, but it’s often more direct and revealing than qualitative data.
To gather qualitative data in useful formats, collect and save patient testimonials, feedback reports, and satisfaction surveys. Additionally, always record detailed SOAP notes and use practice management software to maintain diligent records.
The Importance of Communication and Patient Education
Chiropractors must be clear and compassionate communicators in order to build the trust required for hands-on treatment. Communication skills are also crucial for assessing progress.
A communication style that’s positive, clear, and respectful is used to educate patients on their conditions and treatment plans and to engage in two-way discussions regarding progress.
Patients should always be encouraged to express doubts and admit when they aren’t yet seeing the benefits that they hoped for. Patients sometimes want to make their doctors happy, resulting in an overstatement of progress. However, this tendency can result in changing or terminating a treatment plan at the wrong time.
The Role of Technology in Evaluating Chiropractic Treatment
New tools and software offer chiropractors the opportunity to monitor patient progress more closely. Emerging technologies for assisting with assessment include:
- Chiropractic practice management software with patient progress tracking tools
- Wearable devices and health-tracking apps
- Telemedicine for remote checkups and monitoring
Integrating new technologies helps chiropractors gather more precise data for tracking progress and demonstrating the benefits of treatment.
Challenges in Assessing Chiropractic Outcomes
Quantitative and qualitative tools, expert communication skills, and useful new technologies all help considerably—but there’s no single method or simple approach to assessing patient outcomes.
Obstacles to straightforward assessment include:
- The complexity of patient conditions and coexisting issues
- Subjectivity in assessment techniques
- The placebo effect and the nocebo effect
Always be aware of the factors that may obscure assessment clarity, and employ a variety of assessment approaches to overcome these challenges.
Establishing Continuous Improvement Strategies
Your ongoing growth as a practitioner includes continuously assessing the efficacy of your care and adjusting your approach accordingly.
To maintain high standards for your approach to assessment:
- Include assessment activities at regular intervals for all patients
- Keep up with industry trends regarding assessment measures
- Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to participate in a holistic approach to patient progress assessments
- Communicate thoughtfully and compassionately with patients to create a comfortable environment for discussing progress
Commitment to assessment helps your practice create success stories that are tracked from start to finish, helping patients to understand and appreciate their progress.
Learn More Strategies for Optimizing Your Chiropractic Practice Today
At Aligned Mentoring for Chiropractors, we’re here to enrich the professional, personal, and financial life of each chiropractor we work with. Our coaching brings transformative results to chiropractors in all career stages.
To learn more, contact AMC today to schedule a consultation with one of our chiropractic industry experts.