It’s not quite the Barcelona Pavilion, or even I.M. Pei’s Pyramide du Louvre. But Dr. Steven Arculeo’s Peak Performance Health Care Center in Chicago proves that it’s shape, not size, that matters. Arculeo’s practice makes the most of its architectural design — by design. And much like that of the creators and designers of the world’s greatest structures, Arculeo’s practice offers multiple disciplines, making it not only easy on the eyes, but on the mind and body as well.
Arculeo says multi-discipline practice “offers a higher quality of care for our patients.” His holistic center includes two chiropractors (Arculeo and an associate), a medical doctor, a physical therapist, and a certified athletic trainer.
The advantages are clear. Depending on the ailment, patients can be treated in a variety of ways, which offers them the best of all worlds, Arculeo says. For the doctors, the lines of communication that are opened are also an advantage. “It’s excellent,” says Dr. Phil Simonian, the center’s MD. “We talk about all the patients and concerns. You don’t see too many complaints. We’re all involved in evaluation and treatment.”
The key to the success of the multi-discipline aspect of the practice is the communication between the departments. It’s not merely a matter of talking, Arculeo says, but of understanding each others’ roles and allowing them to intermingle without specifically overlapping. While there is more than one way to care for a patient, the doctors strive to determine as a cohesive unit which is the best, safest, most efficient and most comfortable way.
“It’s just that all people with lower back pain aren’t always satisfied with (medical) treatments (such as muscle relaxers),” Simonian says. “This is a good combination. The advantage of seeing me is we’re trained very differently and we think about different things that cause the same kind of pain. I make sure there’s not something different that could be done as far as treatment.”
Simonian, who joined the practice in September 2000, says the scope of chiropractic doesn’t impinge his knowledge or ability as an MD. “I practice the same medicine here that I probably would if I had my own office. Some people benefit from it, some people don’t.”
Everybody, from the patients to the doctors to the receptionists, benefits from the design of the center. Located in the Second City’s Lincoln Park area, not far from Wrigley Field and DePaul University, the center is user-friendly, creating a comfortable atmosphere for the 350 or so patients who visit each week. No detail is overlooked, either. From the front-office design all the way down to the lighting, the center is intended to put patients at ease.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to create the environment, both physically and organizationally, so I can be 100% present for my patients and 100% moving forward with the goals of the office,” Arculeo says.
Arculeo has practiced chiropractic for nine years. A graduate of the University of Bridgeport (Conn.) and the National College of Chiropractic, he has been at the current location for about one year. He began his focus on the physical practice environment when he moved to the office’s current location. “The most important thing is to get things in place so you don’t have to think about it,” he says.
“Ultimately, the most important decoration in the office is a bunch of patients buzzing through the place.” The design of the practice allows positive patient flow, and it even allows observation of other patients undergoing certain aspects of the treatment process.
The center’s physical layout begins in the center. The layout is the brainchild of both consultant Dr. Mark Sanna of Breakthrough Coaching, and of Dr. Joseph Borio of Cicero, N.Y. Set up somewhat like a well-designed airport terminal, the reception area is the hub, with departments and other various facilities spoking off in every direction. The idea of the design is to keep departments separate. Or, as Arculeo says, to “let the doctors be doctors.”
On one side of the reception area is the patient care section. Adjusting rooms, rehabilitation and diagnostic suites are on that side. In the back is where new patients are processed. Consultations and X-rays also are handled in that area. Several of the nine patient care rooms (the office has 15 rooms altogether, including administrative departments) are used for overlapping purposes. The set-up keeps examination and administration areas within a short distance of each other, meaning that while the different departments don’t intertwine, they all have easy access to one another.
Perhaps the most unique — and useful — aspect of the design is a center hallway. The 4-foot-wide passageway, for which Arculeo credits Borio, allows patients to flow freely throughout the practice. It is also where patient success stories and educational materials are displayed for easy viewing.
The most subtle aspect of the hallway in particular, and the entire practice in general, is the lighting. The hallway allows ample light to spill throughout the practice. The enlightening experience is more than metaphorical; Arculeo wants patients to be at ease while they wait as well as while they’re being cared for.
“Fluorescent light actually changes your brainwave frequency to a beta wave state, which is a highly stressed state,” Arculeo says, citing research he conducted on his own. “We don’t have one fluorescent light.” Instead, the center is filled with incandescent cylindrical lights, all on dimmers and all with lights thrust toward the ceiling, rather than toward the ground.
The desired effect is to spray walls with light, rather than simply project bulbs into prone patients’ eyes. That, along with shades of Chinese tans, greens and whites on the walls, eliminates the doctor’s office feel. “The word I hear patients use is ‘soothing,’ ” Arculeo says.
Perhaps the most essential aspect of the center’s open spaces is the way it allows the practice to market itself. New patients are able to see existing patients going through aspects of their care, mainly rehabilitation. Interaction between patients is also enhanced by the design, Sanna says.
With referrals accounting for the bulk of Arculeo’s marketing (and generating 80% of his business), what better way than to have such tangible evidence of how things work? Not counting on referrals alone, Arculeo also uses the Yellow Pages, business cards, fliers and a referral program to attract new patients.
Arculeo offers bi-weekly patient workshops, and patients are encouraged to bring guests. Of the guests who attend the workshops, Arculeo estimates 90% become new patients. Arculeo also makes himself visible to the public by appearing in Chicago-area newspapers as a holistic health-care columnist. In addition, he has done work as a health-care consultant for NBC News and Chicago’s WGN.
Arculeo keeps marketing once patients are inside. He has a book available of his own published articles and success stories to show patients when they visit. There is an article or story that relates to virtually every health problem their center cares for, allowing Arculeo to clearly illustrate what he can do — and has done — for various ailments and conditions.
Also contributing to the success of the design — and enabling many problems a patient might have to be easily addressed — are the multiple disciplines. Arculeo, along with fellow chiropractor Dr. Kevin Thompson and Simonian collaborate with Heather Sebille and Colleen Hallock in the spinal rehab department to make sure patients’ needs are properly assessed and treated. The physical layout of the office allows the practice to run efficiently without toes being stepped on.
“The office was designed so that it requires very little walking for anyone,” Arculeo says. “That’s a big plus. What’s more important than the physical layout is an understanding of who’s responsible for what. When you have our four terminals (chiropractic, medical, diagnostics and rehabilitation), they require a bit more organization.”
Without question, the most important aspect of the design from both the doctors’ and the patients’ point of view is that it’s custom-made to allow for optimal patient care. “The important thing is to keep things flowing freely enough that the doctors can do the doctoring,” Arculeo says. “The chiropractors can still do chiropractic.”
1749 N Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Dr. Steven Arculeo, owner,
National College of Chiropractic
BS, University of Bridgeport
Instructor and international lecturer
Dr. Kevin Thompson, chiropractic physician
Dr. Phil Simonian, medical doctor
Heather Sebille, physical therapist
Colleen Hallock, certified athletic trainer
Layla Begovski, staff trainer
Carol DeLegge, office mgr./accts. mgr.
Rebecca Schuster, reception
Mon.-Fri.: 3 p.m.-6:15 p.m.
Tues., Wed. and Fri.: 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
Sat.: 9-11 a.m.
Practice Revenue by Payment Type:
PI and W/C: 15%
Gross Billings Per Year:
2000: apx. $850,000
1997 & 1998: $500,000
2001 Projected Gross Billings: $1.2 million
Gross Collections: 75% of gross billings
Spends about 8% of gross revenue on advertising/marketing.
Patient Visits Per Week: 325-350
New Patients: 30-40 per month