A great quote states: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
This, coupled with my philosophical policy that I shall not bitch about that for which I do not subsequently offer a solution, are the driving forces behind this entire series of Chiro Cleanup entries, especially this one. Therefore, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, let’s “git ‘er done”.
Solution #1: Get rid of the stigma described in Part 1 of this series.
Truth be told, there will always be those who refuse to see chiropractic as a legitimate profession or healthcare option. The idea that “you can’t please everybody” comes into play here. The reality is, you can’t forcibly change what other people think. However, that doesn’t mean our only option is to roll over and play dead. We certainly have a certain amount of control over our own fate.
The road out of this mess starts with integrity and continues with self-confidence. As long as prospective students view the profession as an easy way to enjoy a doctor’s status while only moving bones and selling long-term care plans that patients may or may not really need, we’re doomed. If we can move away from the used car tricks and start focusing on patients and their individual needs, we have a prayer.
Integrity means we don’t look at a patient as an internet bill or a tank of gas; we look at them as Mary, 36, who works in IT and likes to go running with her dog or Trisha, 15, a gymnast with low back pain whose dream is to compete in the Olympics. These two patients are going to need widely different treatment plans. Mary probably won’t need to come in as often as Trisha, but Trisha will probably finish her treatment plan sooner because she’s still a kid and they tend to bounce back much more quickly. Practice goes so much more smoothly when you can sit a patient down and tell him or her what s/he needs, not what you would like them to need.
Once they start transitioning to wellness care, it’s OK to drop them back in frequency! It means you’re doing your job. Don’t look at it as less income because they’re now once a month instead of the twice a week they were before. Look at it as a successful case! Some of those people will be so happy because they feel so much better that they just start sending you referrals. If they don’t, don’t push them to do so. Instead, ask if you can speak at a booster club or PTA meeting, or ask if they know anyone who has connections with the high school coach (in the case of the gymnast), or ask if you can give a short health/wellness presentation at Mary’s office to the rest of her employees. Happy patients will typically jump at the chance to help you.
Next, demand (and if you can, conduct) research. Don’t make statements you can’t back up with legitimate journals. This helps to prevent us from falling into the lure and hypnosis of unsubstantiated products that deliver eye candy or placebo effects but arguably, little else. This concept applies whether we’re talking about a supplement company, adjusting instrument, or “diagnostic” tool. This also prevents us from falling into the trap of using unsubstantiated theories to explain our benefits and back up our health claims. Claims can get you into hot water these days; tread very carefully and don’t say what you can’t reflexively point your finger at genuine research to support.
Lesson 1: Patients are People, not dollar amounts.
Lesson 2: Recommend the care they need – no more, no less. Give them options and let them choose.
Lesson 3: Demand proof, and remain a healthy skeptic until you’re satisfied. Transparency and defendability are the key words here. Don’t just fall for any product, service, seminar, or claim hook, line, and sinker. Do some digging and don’t be afraid to “just say no”.