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Chiropractic News

January 2012

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Patient-pleasing technology

New developments in chiropractic equipment not only help you deliver care, but also have a “wow” factor for the patient.

By Kevin Wong, DC

Today’s world presents an ever-changing landscape of gadgets and gizmos that get more technically advanced each day.

You may be old enough to remember black-and-white televisions with rabbit ears, which have now been replaced by flat-screen HD TVs. And you may recall the old rotary-dial telephone, which bears no resemblance to the smartphone of today.

While it’s usually a good thing that technology improves, with the changes come questions for you and your practice: Should you buy? Should you wait? How does a new device affect you? Will it make you money?

What’s more, the answers to such questions are often confusing. As a result, some people try to ignore changes in technology, or they play the “wait-and-see” game to see if new developments stand the test of time.

Most will agree that computers, the Internet, practice software and automation, and similar things you use on a daily basis are here to stay. The solution for the conundrum posed by new technology need not be difficult. Simplify the matter by looking closely at yourself and the procedures you perform in your own office.

You know the saying, “work smarter, not harder,” right? Today’s technological timesavers make it possible for you to do less work while achieving more.

Your office probably already has some type of practice management software, and more DCs every day are moving toward electronic health records. Just as with the general population, a majority of chiropractors are attracted to the benefits offered by technology-based tools.

Chiropractic technology

Technologically speaking, the chiropractic profession has deep roots with B.J. Palmer and the introduction of the first X-ray machines in the 1900s. That was a groundbreaking development back then. The X-ray image gave doctors a window into their patients’ bodies. In addition to the X-ray being a helpful diagnostic tool, it also served another important role as visual stimulation for the patients.

Patients respond to things that are interesting and unusual. The average patient rarely looks at X-ray images. Seeing one, especially of your own body, is a unique experience that usually sticks in the mind for a while. Over the years, the introduction of new technologies (e.g., MRI, CT, bone scans) has provided even more information and eye candy for patients.

With the advent of digital X-ray technology, the amount of radiation the patient is exposed to has been reduced, while the quality of the images has improved. The new breakthroughs in X-ray technology now offer your patients more opportunities to have a unique experience in your office when they learn about their bodies and chiropractic.

Toward the future

Your chiropractic forebears saw simpler times. In the early DC’s office, there was a desk, a phone, and a ledger book. Patient files were simpler, too.

With the advent of computers, you now have a wide range of practice software choices at your fingertips. These programs can help with every- thing from scheduling to billing, and some can even send out newsletters to keep your patients up to date with your

office. If you’re really on the cutting edge, you may have moved toward tablet PCs and iPads to do your daily SOAP and exam notes.

Furthermore, the introduction of the mobile phone and its evolution to the smartphone has placed state-of-the-art technology into a conveniently small device. These minicomputers allow you to administer aspects of patient care and office administration from the palm of your hand.

Chances are, you own some or most of the following:

  • spinal decompression table
  • flexion-distraction table
  • Hy-Lo adjusting table
  • drop table
  • spring-loaded adjusting instrument
  • plug-in massager
  • ultrasound
  • EMS
  • cold laser or a digital foot scanning machine

These are all examples of how the latest technology helps you give quality care to your patients while making you money  as well.

A case in point

One of the most effective improvements in practice technology has been in the area of weight-bearing digital foot scanners. Some of the early scanners released around 10 years ago required people to stand with both feet on them. Over time, newer devices have emerged that scan each foot separately and, in a few cases, scan with motion added.

Since the feet are such important parts of the body and are often overlooked, these scanners let you offer information that few other health practitioners can provide. Since arch flattening or over-pronation is a common finding in eight out of 10 people, scanners are excellent tools for showing patients these phenomena.

Generally speaking, these devices can display the pressure that was placed onto the foot and if the arches were maintained or not. You can then get an indication of foot stability, balance, and the effects on the rest of the axial kinematic chain of the body.

Also, the newer scanners can display a color spectrum that represents the degree of foot pressure. Patients can see these colors and understand just how much arch collapse or support is present in their feet.

Some scanners show a quantified indicator of pronation that the patient is experiencing. This pronation-specific index score is embedded within the color spectrum and it allows the doctor and patient to know the severity of arch collapse with precision. Depending on the device and software you use, you may be able to show how differences in support and pressure affect the rest of the body.

Patients appreciate these kinds of visual, educational tools. The technology tends to be so easy to use that your staff can be trained on it, freeing up more of your time.

What lies ahead

Many of the the amazing changes in technology have taken place in just the last five years. Technology not only makes your life easier, it can also help your bottom line. So think about your practice and what you use every day. Newer technology usually takes some capital outlay, but the dividends it can pay for your patients, for your staff, and for you are incredible.

So what lies ahead in technological advancements for chiropractic? One thing’s for sure: It can only get better.

KevinWongKevin Wong, DC, is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures, and orthotics. He discusses spinal and extremity adjusting at speaking engagements. He can be contacted through orindachiropractic.com.

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