Do you value yourself as a clinician?

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Do you think you are worth what you charge in private practice?

Is this a trick question you may be thinking?...

The answer should be an emphatic “Absolutely! I’m worth every penny!”, but sometimes that’s not always the immediate reaction I get. Often we are shielded from having to think about the price tag we place on consultations because we charge the ‘going rate’. I charge £250 for a new patient consultation and I feel very comfortable with that, because I know I give my patients a ton of value when they come to see me.

What’s interesting is, when I speak with other colleagues such as physios, osteos or consultants working away from London, they may twitch a little when I suggest that they may be undercharging for their work. Don’t get me wrong, nothing upsets me more than clinicians who are out to extract as much cash as possible from their patient. Yep, they do exist and not always in the big ticket price tag way that you might think. Ever heard of a clinician who indulged in a little bit of ‘over treating’ and succeeded in draining the patient’s insurance pot dry, and only then referring them on?

Nevertheless, many of the clinicians I mentor have lost touch with their true worth.

Private practice Ninja helper  Don’t undervalue your skills just because it seems easy to you.

Ever watched an Olympic diver nail the perfect dive from the ten metre board? They made it look effortless and chances are it felt totally in the flow for them, because they’ve performed that dive hundreds of times before. They have practised, perfected and delivered it up on a silver platter. Just at the right moment.
I love seeing patients with hip problems and nothing gives me a greater buzz than being able to help somebody who has been around the houses having being told that it’s a hernia/hip flexor strain/a gynae problem etc.

I hear myself saying this…It seems obvious to me what the problem is, and so it must seem obvious to everyone else, surely?”

You will have your own experience of this – it feels like you can put your finger right on the spot and there is no faffing about. Patients really value that. Here’s the thing. You spent years learning how to sniff out problems, sort the wheat from the chaff, and learning how to skilfully get things sorted. If it seems easy, it’s because this is where you excel. It’s called being an expert.
Don’t knock it.

Private practice Ninja helper   To take care of your patients, you need to take care of yourself.

You might be wondering how this relates to financial value. Think about the last time you received fabulous service. It may have been in an expensive Japanese restaurant or whilst phoning a ‘John Lewis’ customer service line to enquire about returning those weird candles your well-meaning Aunty sent you.

To quote Maya Angelou:

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To really give to a patient during a consultation, you need to be fresh, leave baggage at the door and not be distracted. Most of all, you need to be able to deliver tons of empathy and the polar opposite of that is being burnt out. If you are rushed, tired, overwhelmed and unrested, your patients will sniff it a mile away. They’ll get the very worst version of you, no matter how amazing your clinical acumen is. Being off hand, scattered or plain rude is no way to impress them.

Remember, whilst you may have had thirteen identical patient interactions prior to their coming into your room, this is the very first time they’ve interacted with you. Make sure you spend a moment or two reframing, refreshing your appearance, and reminding yourself you are here for the patient.

Private practice Ninja helper   Don’t make assumptions about how much patients want to invest in their health.

This is probably the weirdest mind game ever. How much do you think your patient thinks your fee represents good value? I’ve had patients who have worn a suit of greater value than my (almost a classic by now) car, who have tried to negotiate on the idea that they should self-fund a trip to see a world-class podiatrist. I have also had patients ‘in-between-jobs’, who have been utterly delighted to fork out for an MRI to help speed up their cause.

Never underestimate the value a patient may put on an accurate diagnosis, fabulous rehabilitation or peace of mind. Know your worth.

 

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