There should be no question in the mind of any currently practicing DC that the chiropractic field is booming.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), approximately 18 million American adults (8 percent) and 2 million children (3 percent) received some type of chiropractic adjustment within the previous 12 months. In terms of cost, this translated into almost $4 billion being spent just on chiropractic services. As expected, back pain was the most common reason for patients to visit a chiropractor (almost 75 percent of those who went to a chiropractor), with more than 60 percent reporting getting “great benefit” from chiropractic care.1
The practical upshot of this for DCs is that more patients than ever are finding their way to a chiropractor for relief from musculoskeletal injuries. This may lead some DCs to wonder if they might be able to improve their practice’s bottom line by offering ancillary products, such as nutritional supplements or shoe orthotic insoles.
Will adding ancillary products add to my bottom line?
The short-form answer to this question is that offering ancillary products will almost certainly provide an additional revenue stream for your practice.
A September 1997 article published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association provided the results from the Association’s annual survey of its members. According to the survey, nutritional supplements, orthotic inserts, and homeopathic remedies each provided anywhere from 1 percent to 20 percent of practice revenue for surveyed DCs.2
A more recent article in the same journal looked at ancillary products offered on 56 chiropractor websites. Approximately two-thirds of the websites contained advertisements for some type of health product. Orthopedic supports were the most popular, being offered by just under 52 percent of the websites, followed by pillows or sleeping supports (27 percent), vitamins and supplements (27 percent), and exercise and rehabilitation products (18 percent).3
Once you have decided to add ancillary products to your practice, the next step is determining which ones to add. One way of going about this is to examine the scope of your practice, as well as the types of patients and conditions you are treating. If you have a sizeable base of patients who are coming in for athletic-related conditions, you may want to offer orthotics or exercise and rehab products. If you are seeing many older patients, you may want to offer vitamins and nutritional supplements.
At this point, you are ready to start testing the various products you are considering offering. Many companies may be willing to let you sample their products before deciding which ones to offer. Your patients will have much more confidence in the products you offer if you have actually tried them out yourself. Think of it this way, if you find that a particular protein bar tastes like chalk, will you be able to effectively sell it to your patients?
Making the sale
Now that you have decided which products to offer, how do you make that sale to your patients? This is where your years of training and expertise can come in handy.
If your patients are wondering how to eat healthier, you can not only talk about vitamins and supplements to take, but you can offer them right there in the office to make it as convenient as possible. If a geriatric patient is having difficulty walking, talk about the benefits of orthotic inserts, and then show the product line you offer. This will reinforce your credibility in the eyes of your patients because you would not offer for sale products you did not believe would help them.
The truth is that offering ancillary products is a natural fit with the rest of your chiropractic practice. Your own expertise sells the products, your patients are satisfied, and you add to your practice’s bottom line.
1 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). “Chiropractic: An Introduction.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/chiropractic/introduction.htm. Updated February 2012. Accessed March 2015.
2 Kopansky-Giles D, Papadopoulos C. Canadian Chiropractic Resources Databank (CCRD): a profile of Canadian chiropractors. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 1997:41(3);155–191.
3 Page SA. An audit of health products and services marketed on chiropractic websites in Alberta and consideration of these practices in the context of chiropractic codes of conduct and ethics. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2007:51(2);91–98.