FREE GUIDE - How to use presentations in your practice to increase efficiency, confidence, and profitability
Free Guide: How to use presentations in your practice to increase efficiency, confidence, and profitability.
I had not passed both steps of the national board exams yet. I saw this patient who had an injury to her right 1st metatarsal sesamoid. The emergency department referred this patient, and she appeared to have a fractured sesamoid despite not seeing the fracture on x-rays.
The patient was in a CAM boot, out of work, and eager to return; therefore, I scheduled her surgery. Usually, I see patients back before surgery, but this time, the surgery was scheduled quickly due to open OR time. On this specific day, there were two sesamoid removals cases.
Post-surgery, my patient continued to have pain and needed pain medication long after the typical recovery period. As a young surgeon, I was concerned about the patient's pain and continued to give Percocet until I felt uncomfortable. Her symptoms did not resolve, and I was concerned about what had happened. To make matters worse, one day, the patient didn't show up in the office, and a few weeks later, I got a letter in the mail. They requested my medical records. I quickly reached out to my malpractice provider, who guided me.
The following 12 months were challenging for a young doctor with a young family. My confidence went down as I started to second-guess myself and my surgical abilities. My 2nd child was born, so I was tired, navigating the lawyer visits and questioning my abilities. Ultimately the case was concluded, and I came to find out the patient had a drug dependency problem.
At that time, I was in a coaching program called Strategic Coach, and there was a thinking exercise that we went through called the Experience Transformer. This exercise is a way to take everything that happens to you, learn a lesson, and use it to help you in the future. One of the most potent questions was, “If I could do this experience over knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?” With this question came the idea of Patient Presentations.
The alleged litigation was not from the surgical outcome but the lack of informed consent. I didn’t explain all the risks and complications that could have happened before the surgery. Despite the signed surgical consent, the patient alleged I didn’t thoroughly review it. If you are a surgeon, you know that sometimes at the hospital, the nurses give the patients these documents to sign before surgery. I really can’t remember our conversation or what happened. Therefore, as I was doing this Experience Transformer, I wrote down that if I could do it again, I would do a much more thorough pre-surgical discussion before surgery.
That idea formed the plan for my first Patient Presentation I called a Pre-Surgical Discussion. I opened up Google Slides and made some rudimentary slides that went over patients' most common questions about all the surgical complications that could happen and the typical recovery. The first slide deck included ten black and white slides with a few images I copied from other websites. Before surgery, I performed a pre-surgical discussion, went over the surgery, reviewed x-rays, and reviewed possible complications. In truth, I tried to scare my patients with the presentations.
This use of slides worked well for me because I already was using an Electronic Medical Record with a computer in each treatment room. Therefore when the patient came in for the Pre-Surgical consult, I would pull up the slide deck and go through the slides. Using slides was the most enjoyable part of my day. Patients enjoyed the presentations and said they had never been to a doctor so detailed in their explanations.
As time passed by in my coaching program, there was another tool we learned called Positive Focus. To do this, you write down a few good things that happened, explaining why these were good, what could be the next thing you could do to expand on what was good, and one action step. I found myself writing about my Pre-Surgical discussion and how much fun it was to present it to patients. I enjoyed the interaction, the flexibility, and the standard format. I don’t know about you, but I am often rushed from room to room, seeing patients. I tend to alter my patient discussion to how much time I have, how far behind I am, and how many pending notes I need to write up that day. Sometimes my explanations were shortened or altered based on the time I had.
As I thought about what I wanted to work on next, I picked one of the most complex conditions we treat as podiatrists, plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis has many treatment options; explaining the condition and the choices can be confusing and complicated. I made my first draft of this presentation and tried it out the next day in practice. Since I used Google Slides, I could edit them on the fly as I showed them to patients, and I could add pictures and address and include questions that came up commonly from patients. I started to enjoy doing these presentations in my daily practice, and these presentations expanded to encompass multiple diagnoses.
Let’s now look at how to make the presentations.
How To Make Presentations
Using Google Slides is relatively easy, and most people have an account. I prefer Google Slides vs. PowerPoint because you can add them to your web browser and edit them on any computer. I recommend making slides based on how you typically explain the condition to your patients.
Your number of slides will typically increase over time, so don’t worry about testing out new slides. I recommend starting with one presentation only of a condition that you treat. Using the presentation daily will help you become confident with using presentations with your patients. Don’t worry if they are simple black-and-white slides with pictures you get from the internet. They will get better over time and with practice.
5 Benefits of Using Presentations
I could not practice any longer without presentations. When I meet someone with a question about a foot condition, I will pull up my presentations on my phone, show them the slide deck, and answer their questions. There are other benefits I will go over below.
Benefit #1 - Consistent explanation and offer to every patient
The most significant benefit is every patient will get the same explanation. Patients talk to each other, and family members can chat. How we treat one patient is how we should treat everyone. By using a presentation, you can always give a consistent identical presentation to each patient. What you offer remains the same based on your assumptions of what each patient can afford or will do for treatment. You present what the best options are and let the patient decide.
Benefit #2 - Ability to include questions in the presentation
Patients have the same questions. For example, when talking about orthotics, they ask if over-the-counter is just as good as custom orthotics. Before asking the questions, you can put a slide explaining the differences between the two types of questions. After doing the presentations, you can preemptively answer questions because you address their concerns.
Benefit #3 - Add new treatments, procedures, or products by adding a slide
If you want to try a new procedure in your office, you can add a slide and include it in your next presentation vs. having to remember each time. For example, I wanted to add Keryflex as a treatment option for injured or fungal toenails. I added Keryflex to a fungus slide deck and included before and after pictures. As a result of that one slide, numerous patients received the new treatment.
Benefit #4 - Easy to train a new doctor with your office protocols
If you have several doctors in your practice, another great way to use the presentations is for each doctor to present the same way. Of course, each doctor will have a different presentation style, but initially, when starting in practice, it is best to learn what is working and then improvise once you start getting some results. Similar to learning surgery, you have to know the way your attending does the surgery before you can develop your style.
Benefit #5 - Wowing your patients
One benefit of using presentations in daily practice is the positive feedback from the patients. Frequently they say they have never seen a doctor who has been so prepared for their visit, and they are amazed at the explanation. That usually goes along with some comment that the other doctor they saw didn’t go over the treatment options, and they were confused and rushed in the examination. We tend to treat as quickly as possible to get to our next patient; however, that can leave our patient dissatisfied with questions. An easy way to avoid this is by using a premade presentation.
When I introduce this topic to doctors, many times there are questions, and I want to address some of the common questions that practitioners have regarding patient presentations.
5 Questions You Might Have About Using Presentations in Private Practice
- How many slides should I use in the presentation? - This depends on the condition. I have some slide decks that are only 3-4 slides because it is easy to explain the condition, but others are 12-15 slides in the deck for more complex conditions.
- Where can I get the images? - I started getting online by looking up what I needed pictures of night splints and orthotics. You can use online pictures since you are not selling the slides, and another option is to take pictures in your office and use those pictures.
- I need help with slide design. What can I do? - I started with black-and-white slides without any unique design or layout. I found someone on Fiverr, an online resource for people that are good at different tasks. I found someone that designs slides, and I gave them some guidance. They made me a wonderful slide deck that I am proud to use. I took these slide decks and uploaded them to Google Drive.
- Do these replace my other visual aids? - I believe in visual aids and still use my foot model and orthotic examples in the treatment room. However, using my presentations, I can show them all the treatment options that are available quickly.
- Do you use them for all your patients? - I do not use my slides for every patient. Some treatments, such as nail fungus or warts, are simple, and I don’t need to use a presentation. Also, I often do not use the presentations when patients return for follow-up appointments. However, I find using presentations most effective for complex conditions with multiple treatment methods, such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.
- How can I get started quickly? - Start with one presentation, use only a few slides, and modify them as you go. Don’t overanalyze; start with one you make or use one of mine as a template.
5 Common Objections to Start Using Presentations
When I introduce the idea of using presentations in private practice, many concerns come up from doctors. I would like to address some common objections or concerns doctors have regarding using presentations with their patients. Learning to use new technology can be challenging, but I want to do everything possible to make it easier.
Objection 1 - I don’t have time to do a presentation.
Lack of time was why developing this idea took me so long. I brought this idea up to some more senior doctors, precisely what they told me. I don’t have time to do a presentation with every patient in the office, and I only have 5 minutes with them. My answer to that is you may be seeing too many patients, and you may be leaving money on the table. The more you teach and explain treatments to your patients, the more success you will have in them accepting the treatments that are best for them. I find that using presentations saves me time with patients, especially when they return for a follow-up visit.
Let me give you an example. Certain conditions are complex and require multiple visits; sometimes, they don’t improve. Plantar fasciitis is one example of a diagnosis that requires various treatments. When they come back as a doctor, you are defensive, your patient is frustrated, and you are in a hurry to get to the next patient. When patients become complex, everything falls apart with your schedule. I have a secret slide I call the Treatment Evaluator slide I use for follow-up visits. I don’t do the whole presentation each time the patient returns, but I use the Treatment Evaluator slide to review the treatment options quickly. I will go through the treatments and see what they have or have not done and recommend those treatments.
Objection 2 - I don’t have a computer in every treatment room.
Many doctors have computers in the treatment room, but some use a laptop, iPad, or paper charts. There are a few other options for those that don’t have a computer in the treatment room.
- iPad - You can save the same slides on an iPad or tablet that you can show patients and have them hold in their hands.
- Email - You can email patients or have them download from your website to view using their device.
- Print - You can print out the slides on paper or in a booklet fashion and give them to patients and go over these with patients in the treatment room.
Objection 3 - I will get bored or lose spontaneity.
Doing a presentation will maintain your spontaneity and often helps you remember specific treatment options missed or skipped. I have been doing these presentations for years, and the presentations are preemptively going over patients' concerns or questions.
Objection 4 - I can’t make the slides.
Making the slides can be daunting, especially if you are a busy practitioner. As I mentioned, I recommend picking one slide deck to start and practicing using that one with a patient to see how it goes. There are some example slide decks you can get to as a reference at www.patientpresentations.com. Try to keep the slides simple and use avoid using technical terms. Making them with only a few words and more figures is better.
Objection 5 - I can’t use your slides; I treat or explain things differently.
If you get my slides and treat your patients differently, you can delete, hide or change a slide. Modifying your presentation in Google Slides is easy and can be done while in the treatment room with the patient. One aspect I have found particularly helpful is including some common questions patients have regarding treatments such as orthotics and shockwave therapy.
These are some common concerns. Hopefully, these answers will help you see how doing presentations in your daily practice can speed you up.
6 Errors to Avoid When Getting Started With Patient Presentations
Avoid these errors when using presentations. In the beginning, I made all of these. If you try to use the presentations, avoiding my mistakes will help you be more successful.
Error #1 - Making presentation too long
The first presentation I made as a Pre-Surgical Discussion took me 20 minutes to show to patients. Twenty minutes is too long and will get you behind in clinical practice. I have limited most of my slide decks to about six slides at this time and can present them in about 5 minutes. If you take too long, patients will lose interest if you put fewer words on each slide. Remember that you have explained this condition hundreds of times, but this is the first time for the patient.
Error #2 - Going too fast and not asking questions during the presentation
An essential aspect of the presentation is asking questions about how long they have had problems. What treatments have they tried, and what they can’t do because of the pain? In the past, I used to shoot through the presentation to see how fast I could get it done. However, I have found it more helpful to take my time and ask my patient about their pain. If you say what they feel, they will not believe or buy into the treatment as much as if they speak out about their feelings.
Error #3 - Offering too many options and causing confusion
With unlimited space on a presentation, you can virtually offer all treatments in the world, from over-the-counter treatments to items sold online to those you dispense in your office. I find many times, this plethora of options confuses patients. Rather than offering all the treatments, I use a simple grid slide that goes over the options, and I help them make a plan based on the severity or length of their symptoms.
Error #4 - Not offering reinforcement resources
When teaching with patient presentations, you may think your patients will remember everything you said; however, this is not the case. There needs to be the reinforcement of the material given to your patient. Resources can be in a printed paper format of the slides, written book, emailed video, or other resources. Giving a patient homework, such as a video to watch, is beneficial. Recording your Google slides can be done for free on Zoom. Upload the video to YouTube or DropBox, share it with your patients, or place it on your website.
Error #5 - Doing multiple presentations at the same visit
In the past, I was so excited I would do one presentation on bunions and another one on hammertoes. Presenting two slide decks was lengthy and repetitive. What works better is clarifying the main problem and then showing that presentation and speaking to the other complaints. I present on plantar fasciitis and make recommendations about the different issues they mention. Usually, I will go more in-depth at the next visit about their nail fungus or send them a video to watch before the next visit about the condition so that they are prepared and have watched my presentation.
Error #6 - Not having them easily accessible
To start using something, it needs to be easy, almost idiot-proof. That is why putting the link for the patient presentations on my desktop or browser is the easiest option. To make it even easier, I did some behind-the-scenes tech work and added a simple link to a website called linktree (www.linktree.com). Linktree is a simple webpage that has links and nothing else. When you click the link, it opens the Google Slides in full-screen mode. The fewer clicks, the better. See my slides here - www.patientpresentations.com.
4 Advanced Uses of Patient Presentations
As we finish, I want to spark your interest and ideas for future uses of Patient Presentations in your office. These are some advanced tips for those already well-adjusted to the presentations.
Advanced Tip #1 - Record your presentations
Take your presentation and record it on Zoom. Place your presentation on your website, YouTube, or DropBox as a patient resource.
Advanced Tip #2 - Use presentations as a live webinar
Your presentations work great as patient webinars. You can invite your patients to a live webinar and discuss a subject in greater detail. In a live webinar, you can talk longer and include more information and common questions patients give you in the treatment room.
Advanced Tip #3 - Create Treatment Evaluator Slide
My favorite side is called a treatment evaluator slide. The slide contains treatment options. When doing patient presentations, you initially go through the whole slide deck. However, during follow-up visits, you only show the Treatment Evaluator slide. This slide quickly allows you to review what treatments the patient has tried and not tried and can help you offer the next types of treatments for the condition.
Advanced Tip #4 - Save Time Creating Slides
Throughout this guide, I have given you access to the slides I use in my practice, but if you want my actual Slide Decks in Google Slides, you can get access via my Practice Mastery Academy. You will gain access and instruction on using the slides effectively, saving you hundreds of hours I have used to develop them. Here is the website to learn more about Practice Mastery Academy.
Give the presentations a try in your clinic and see the results. Let me know your feedback on this idea, and tell me how they work for your practice. If you want get private coaching with me to learn how to make and implement patient presentations send me an email with Coaching in the subject line, and we can see if it is a good fit - [email protected]