More education may be necessary to help patients understand the science behind spinal manipulation, as well as a new brand build encompassing wellness and telehealth
The coronavirus has left many businesses scrambling to figure out how to keep their doors open and continue to serve their customers while still adhering to safe social distancing guidelines. One survey reveals that two of the hardest hit industries are food service and construction. But what about chiropractic, and is the pandemic actually an opportunity for a new brand build?
The chiropractic field overall
On July 6, 2020, Chiropractic & Manual Therapies published a review of how each state classified chiropractic during pandemic-related business closures. Of the 50 states, just over one-half (54%) categorized chiropractic as essential, one state listed it as a non-essential service, and the remaining states provided no guidance either way.
These numbers represent the struggle that chiropractic has had in becoming recognized for the value that it offers for improving patient health. According to the states’ classification decisions — which were recorded from their governors’ websites as well as the websites of each state’s chiropractic licensing board — the profession as a whole appears to only be halfway in the eyes of some states.
Perhaps the real question is what this says to patients. If chiropractic wasn’t named as an essential service, this may leave them wondering if, in fact, it is. More education may be necessary to help everyone understand the science behind spinal manipulation, as well as the research that supports the benefits of chiropractic, and a new brand build to present to patients and the public.
Chiropractic changes on an individual practice level
Even if you practice in a state that classified chiropractic as essential, patients may still be hesitant to come to your office. How have some doctors continued to provide care to these patients until they feel that it is safe to return? For one practice, the answer was clear.
“My office has provided chiropractic care and telehealth postural therapeutic exercise to our patients since COVID-19 restricts certain patients from coming into our office,” says Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Penn., and team chiropractor for the Blackthorn Rugby Team. “This way, the patient can consult with the chiropractor about what injuries they are experiencing and the chiropractor can demonstrate and explain through telehealth what exercises they can do while at home.”
Conrad says that the use of virtual health visits has provided a new brand build in regard to chiropractic and overall wellness and the opportunity to answer some patient’s questions while in the comfort of their own home. This includes providing guidance as to whether their condition would benefit from ice or heat, as well as whether they should rest and take it easy. These online appointments are also used to conduct telehealth postural analyses, after which stretching instructions can be given.
Enhanced safety practices
While telehealth is one option for continuing patient services amidst the pandemic, other offices have also placed a heavy focus on sharing the actions they’ve taken to make their practices safer. They’ve publicized their cleaning practices, shared their mask-related policies, and more in an effort to put their patients at greater ease.
An article published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care outlines a five-step process when it comes to safety within health care offices. This includes:
- Assessing where your office is currently, using this data to decide the training needed to better promote the safety of you and your staff
- Engaging with your patients and the community at large to work together and implement a mutually beneficial safety plan
- Actively taking action to improve patient care by making changes within the office that help support both employee and patient safety
- Proactively mitigating risk to all patients, even those who have tested positive for COVID-19
- Creating an environment in which you can respond quickly while also recognizing where you can improve to improve patient safety
Rethinking a new chiropractic brand build
On a big picture level, every action your business takes — and doesn’t take — has the ability to affect your current brand and a potential new brand build, shaping the way chiropractic is seen.
A McKinsey & Company survey reports that a majority of Americans don’t intend to return to their pre-pandemic routines until later in 2021. Other pieces of research suggest that it will likely be much longer, maybe another year or more. Until that time, it’s important to find a way to manage the changing landscape.
On a fundamental level, this likely involves a new brand build and educating the public as to the value that chiropractic offers. Secondarily, it requires coming up with new and innovative ways to treat patients both in and outside the office.
This begins with assessing your brand and deciding what you want your patients and prospective patients to think when hearing your name. Next, create policies, procedures, and marketing campaigns that highlight the image you want to portray. The stronger you can make your brand now, the stronger it will be in the future. And the more likely it will be around post-pandemic.