Sponsored by The Joint Chiropractic
It has always been interesting that, as a profession, verylittle focus is placed on mapping the necessary evolution of the chiropractic model.How should chiropractic grow? How does it become more accessible? How can it expandinto mainstream use?
There is research from groups providing treatment guidelinesto improve patient outcomes. There is research on the effectiveness ofchiropractic, and other services provided under the professional scope. Thereis even data collected on current usage and understanding of chiropracticservices. However, there is little-to-no data on how the profession should evolveif it seeks to improve utilization of chiropractic care.
You may not agree with the above statement, citing surveys conducted to outline the types of practices in existence today. On the other hand, it could be argued that these efforts are merely static analyses lacking insight on all the potential avenues for growth. Recent studies tend to focus on topics such as revenue ratios of cash versus insurance, types of services, product offers, and total revenues generated by such practices. While the data gathered from these studies is useful and directional for what is occurring, they are missing the context of the changing needs and preferences of current and future patients.
To illustrate this point, let’s review the multidisciplinarychiropractic model. These practices may be capable of generating higher-than-averagerevenue numbers, and subsequently there is an assumption that this type ofpractice should be the de facto blueprint due to its high-income potential. Whilethis indeed seems to be a viable practice model, there are unanswered questionsabout the needs of the patient. How many avoidseeking care at this kind of practice? What could this practice be being doingdifferently to improve the breadth of its appeal? How many patients continue choosingconventional health care options? Where is the opportunity for genuineimprovement in the patient experience?
One unique approach that has been gaining ground withinhealth care is the concept of onsite care provided by a large employer. In thiskind of model, the employer is no longer saddled with the cost of providing healthinsurance for their employees, but rather invests those dollars into their ownclinic. This approach provides services directly to employees at a cost savingsto the company, while the employee benefits by having convenient access tohealth care services at their workplace. Retail pharmacy chains have takensimilar steps to improve consumer access by adding onsite clinics. They have successfullytransitioned from a prescription refill network to providing convenient healthservices for their customers, which is a benefit to both the patient and theprovider. How can chiropractic develop similar delivery success models?
Today, patients are being exposed to more health care innovationthan ever before. As such, this industry must begin to understand what isrelevant to the consumer. As a profession, we need to recognize how and why patientschoose chiropractic, where they prefer to receive their care and howchiropractic can change its method of delivery to service the 21stcentury consumer, including the millennials. We need this information in orderto innovate access to chiropractic care.
As professionals, we also need to modernize our technology.Consumers today are utilizing smart phones, tablets, computers and socialnetworks to research their health care options at extremely high rates. Canchiropractic capitalize on this usage and take advantage of digital media inorder to talk directly to consumers? We must connect with patients on theirpreferred platforms with relevant messaging and provide access to a clinicmodel that matches their lifestyle. This combination will likely increase theappeal of chiropractic. Knowledge is power and the reality of patients choosingchiropractors to be their first provider is not only possible, but it isstarting to happen with small-box retail clinics across the country.
Innovation is not always well understood and is even resisted at times. However, if we are truly convicted in our belief that patients seeking chiropractic as a first line of defense are prescribed less medications, receive fewer surgeries, have reduced hospital visits and experience quality of life at a higher level, then innovation is necessary.
About the author
Steve Knauf, DC, CHC is the current Vice Chairman for the Arizona Board is Chiropractic Examiners, serves on the ACA’s Committee for Quality Assurance and Accountability, and is the Director of Chiropractic and Compliance for The Joint Chiropractic.