The failure of modern health care offers you an opportunity.
Stop anyone on the street, and they will be happy to tell you how broken today’s health care system is. Huge premiums, rising copays, poor quality care and lack of communication from both providers and insurance companies are just a few of the issues they complain about.
This state of affairs offers you a golden opportunity as a holistic health care provider. With the skills you already possess, you can become the local authority for functional health recovery. Your reputation and local influence can expand your practice within your community exponentially.
Not since the introduction of X-ray analysis has there been such a shift in chiropractic. Functional health (the use of adjustments, whole food supplements, herbs, lifestyle, exercise, diet and common sense) is practicing much like the medical doctors of the early 1900s.
Most doctors stay in the same community for their entire career treating generations of families. This is a sustainable model for the future of health care. Therefore, doctors of chiropractic are the ideal practitioners to accept this role.
The ABCs of functional health recovery
Attitude: Your community needs to understand how modern health care got so bad in the first place. Unless they can compare their current state of dis-ease to a state of wellness, how can you expect them to make an informed decision about taking control of their health?
The story begins with the birth of medical insurance as we know it. It started during the Civil War to cover injuries related to travel on railroads and steamboats. This “sickness” insurance wasn’t designed to reimburse people for medical expenses, much like today’s disability policies. It was designed to pay supplemental income to cover everyday expenses while the patient recovered.
In 1954, the U.S. Congress made contributions to health plans exempt from taxes, and in the 1960s, business groups began to develop relationships with health care providers for fee-based medical contracts. This led to the medical reimbursement model of medical insurance as it is known today.
Once medical reimbursement for expenses for sickness care became the norm, “health care” was forgotten. When you got sick, you went to the doctor to get fixed and your insurance company paid the bill. This led to patients having less sense of having power to make their own health decisions.
Now, unless a person has an active disease process, they only see their medical doctor to screen for disease, not to assess health. This is why so little money has been spent on prevention over the last 70 years. Conversely, the U.S. has the best system in the world to rescue people from trauma and acute infections.
As the focus has been on acute sickness, chronic disease has taken over. Patients get sicker until they reach the threshold of “sickness care,” and then they seek to be rescued.
Once your patients understand how we got here, then they can make an informed decision to participate in online and in-office assessments to quantify their current level of health, not disease. They can be given a report to motivate them into action, and then they can make the decision to take control of their own health care or not.
Balance: Once patients decide to become their own health care advocates, you can guide them through the entire process. This is what differentiates you from the other practitioners in your community. The counter-intuitiveness of training your patients to heal themselves will get you noticed quickly.
For most patients, a functional protocol for digestive health will be appropriate. Other functional protocols to restore fluid messengers (blood, hormones and neurotransmitters), glands, organs and body systems should be identified and addressed based on each patient’s needs.
Up to 80 percent of people need digestive help, and some studies have reported up to 75 percent of people have asymptomatic reflux, 50 percent of people over the age of 50 suffer from achlorhydria—reduced hydrochloric acid for digestion. And autoimmune and inflammatory disorders are linked to a leaky gut. As you know, proper digestion is paramount for health recovery.
Once digestion is successfully addressed, fluid messenger protocols are the next order of business. This is how nutrients and signaling molecules are delivered to the cells and heal the body as health begins to move up the chain of the body. These are not disease-based protocols. They are designed to normalize tissues and allow the body’s innate intelligence to oversee the healing process.
The glands and organs are addressed in the same way. They are provided with the nutrients, hormones and other substances necessary to rebuild and renew themselves. Then allostasis can occur, which is the process by which the body responds to stressors to regain homeostasis.
The final components to balance in functional health recovery are at the systemic level. The nervous system, musculoskeletal system and immune system need to be balanced and maintained.
Community: A 2010 study revealed social isolation as the No. 1 cause of chronic disease-related mortality.1 It can be deadlier than smoking, drinking more than six drinks per day and physical inactivity.
Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and arthritis can decrease social interactions and mobility, creating social isolation. These diseases are on the rise and you routinely see patients with these conditions. Their chiropractic visit in many cases may be the only social interaction they have. This state of affairs positions you perfectly to be a healthy lifestyle specialist.
This is an exciting time to be a chiropractor. This is the only profession that has the skill set necessary to stop the runaway train of chronic disease using functional health recovery techniques. Seize this opportunity with technology, low-cost marketing and relationship building, and your practice can soon be filled with patients who are ready, willing and able to become your tribe. Are you ready to accept them?
Bill Hemmer, DC, has been in private practice for nearly 30 years. His passion for chiropractic began with a cervical compression fracture at age 15. He has expanded his practice to include customized health recovery plans to meet the needs of a changing health care environment. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2015;10:227-237.