These four specialized services can help put your practice in the lead, with anti-aging and decompression therapy riding a popularity wave
Whether you’re incorporating decompression therapy into your practice or taking your skills on the road to corporate settings, you can explore a variety of specialized services that enhance patient health and wellness and ultimately increase cash flow. Here, we talk with four experts who teach and support chiropractors in specialized therapies that are proving popular with patients across the country and around the world.
Delving into decompression therapy
Most chiropractors know about decompression tables and the companies that market and sell them. Jeff VanderWal, president of HillDT Solutions and his partner Tim Burkhart, DC, have expanded their involvement with this technology beyond the chiropractor’s point of purchase.
HillDT Solutions sells decompression tables and also provides comprehensive training, certification, and ongoing clinical support to its chiropractor clients for decompression therapy.
There are a lot of products out there that are more traction-based, and VanderWal’s company was created as the result of a void he perceived to be in the market: “Years ago, my partner (Burkhart) bought a decompression table that came with nothing more than a DVD, and it took him months to figure out how to use it and get consistent results.”
VanderWal’s company focuses on selling and providing clinical training and support for its own brand of decompression tables for decompression therapy. “Sales agents can explain the basic functionality, but if you have a complex case, who do you go to for answers? We developed a master team of chiropractors who have experience developing best practices.” And these best practices are incorporated into his company’s training and certification program.
VanderWal says that chiropractors are well-suited to provide decompression therapy services with this technology. Changing health insurance models are resulting in more surgeons losing patients to less-invasive or lower-cost therapies, he explains, and chiropractors could be benefiting from this increased business.
“As a chiropractor, you are an expert on the spine,” he says. “Decompression is an extension of what you already know and will allow you to provide therapy to patients who may not respond to traditional chiropractic care.”
VanderWal says he understands chiropractors’ initial hesitance to enter the area of decompression therapy, adding that this hesitation goes beyond the cost of investing in the technology.
“Chiropractors have a natural compassion for their patients, and with decompression, they may be concerned about uncertainty of outcome,” he says. “It’s hard for them to ask a patient for $3,000, and when they do, they think, ‘Boy, this’d better work.’ Part of it is also credibility, and we strive to transfer credibility to our chiropractor clients. The ongoing mentoring we provide helps in this regard tremendously.”
Marketing decompression therapy varies from practice to practice, VanderWal says. It depends on where you are in terms of years in the profession and patient base.
“If you’re a new physician trying to generate new patients, you will probably take a more aggressive role in marketing this technology,” he explains. “For the chiropractor in practice 20 years, you’ll find you have a lot of good candidates for this therapy right under your nose. Maybe some patients have hit a plateau and have not progressed. This therapy can help chiropractors achieve better outcomes for their patients.”
Any chiropractors interested in pursuing an investment in decompression therapy technology should remember that the therapy is an add-on and not meant to replace traditional chiropractic services.
“This is a complementary therapy that you can add to your practice and do remarkable things for your patients, including relief in complex disc cases,” he says. “Physicians who put their heart into it will succeed. The capital investment takes care of itself—that is the last thing to worry about.”
Nelson Thibodeaux, founder of Texas Biostetic Instruments, says he’s found an excellent way for chiropractors to augment their regular practice with natural anti-aging therapies that can achieve increased satisfaction and wellness in patients, all while enhancing cash flow.
For more than 10 years, Thibodeaux’s company has been providing training, equipment, and support to chiropractors in the noninvasive arts of microcurrent and LED fat-loss therapies. “All-cash services open up a lot of additional opportunities for DCs,” he says. “We have specialized in primarily Class 1 devices that are readily available to use, and these treatments have even been endorsed by some chiropractic boards.”
According to Thibodeaux, natural microcurrent therapies that serve as both a pain management device as well as a tool for firming, toning, and rejuvenation have greatly advanced as a result of the Department of Defense’s underwritten research in regenerative medicine for wounded soldiers. Some devices can even incorporate a product whose active ingredient mimics tropoelastin (a precursor to the generation of elastin in the body) into microcurrent therapy to effect immediate improvement in skin elasticity.
With the right system, a DC can provide visible face lifts, and offer clients toning and slimming in the abdomen, legs, and arms, Thibodeaux says. And radiant lipolysis treatments promote weight and fat loss in the abs, arms, legs, bust, and buttocks as part of an unattended treatment.
Thibodeaux says that chiropractors are in a unique position to augment their current practice with anti-aging services. “Chiropractors typically have a majority population of female patients,” he says. “These patients are interested in their overall wellness and health.”
Thibodeaux’s company provides on-site microcurrent and other anti-aging treatments and also trains chiropractors in the use of its systems. In addition, the company offers a full range of products that, when used in combination with the equipment, provide synergistic reactions that result in anti-aging rejuvenation and extend the results of treatments.
With regard to establishing price points for patients, Thibodeaux says that typically an office can recoup its investment on a device after selling about a half-dozen treatment packages.
“One of our approaches with chiropractors when it comes to marketing is that we train them to show results to their patients,” he says. “We tell them to take a patient in and explain to them that this is a natural procedure; it will take a little longer, but it is not a $20,000 plastic surgery. We will do one treatment on half of the face and take a photo, then finish the treatment. Afterwards, we show the patient the dramatic difference between the treated side and the untreated side.”
According to Thibodeaux, the best advice he can give to chiropractors looking to succeed in the anti-aging and wellness field starts and ends with motivating your employees.
“You have to instill excitement in your staff,” he says, adding that team members will introduce patients to these offerings with enthusiasm. “You also have to look at your entire patient base and use that as a baseline to start this part of your business. This is an opportunity to reach out to patients you haven’t seen in five years.”
Have chiropractic, will travel
Bryan Muth, DC, has mastered an approach to providing chiropractic care that takes his skills out of the traditional private practice and brings them to corporations and their employees firsthand.
Muth leads corporate wellness at Standard Process, and serves as the medical services manager for Cultivate, an on-site, chiropractic-led wellness company. He has made a career out of providing nutritional, ergonomic, and chiropractic therapies to corporate employees, while also training and certifying chiropractors who are interested in pursuing this same specialization path.
Muth says he finds a great deal of satisfaction in providing his services via this on-site corporate model because the results significantly impact employee wellness and performance.
“By helping businesses improve employee health factors and achieve productivity gains, you are a transformative force within a business,” Muth says. “It also stands to reason you’re creating value and, as a result, new career opportunities, security, and practice expansion for yourself as a chiropractor.”
According to Cultivate research, the on-site, chiropractic-centered wellness model results in statistically and clinically significant differences in employee health, including the reduction of long-term illnesses.
“The correlation of healthier, happier employees being more productive and less likely to incur health-related costs flows naturally from report findings,” says Jerry Curtin, Cultivate’s president and general manager.
Muth agrees. “I started looking into nutrition and longevity and realized that making a career out of combining these factors with results-driven chiropractic therapies can really make a difference in patients’ lives,” he says.
Cultivate offers a comprehensive certification program that equips chiropractors with the tools they need to influence employee nutrition, musculoskeletal health, and overall productivity. If you’re looking to enter this branch of chiropractic services, you’ll need to acquire skills and knowledge in the areas of HIPAA regulations, nutrition, fitness, employee safety, and more.
“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that dedicated, trained chiropractors can have being on-site as part of an organization’s overall wellness program,” Curtin says. “[Our program] is intended to help expand career options for chiropractors looking to take their practice to the next level while also helping to transform communities through wellness.”
Muth says the benefits of on-site corporate wellness make practicing chiropractic all the more exciting. “I really like the idea of helping people in a corporate setting and seeing more and more people accomplish things in their jobs faster and more accurately,” he says. “You really become a part of the company.” What’s more, data has shown a significant decrease in healthcare costs for the corporations who invest in on-site wellness services for their employees, he says.
As far as advice to chiropractors who might be interested in this type of career, Muth says information is power. He recommends going online to learn more about how you can incorporate this specialty into your career. “And the best thing is that chiropractors do not have to leave their own practice. They can integrate this specialty into their private practices, and that can help their practices grow in turn.”
Anita Shannon, owner and founder of TheraCupping, focuses on bringing the power of high-end massage (particularly vacuum therapy) to chiropractors who are looking to implement natural tissue-generation techniques into their practices.
Since 2002, Shannon’s company has been training and providing ongoing support to chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists, and other healthcare professionals whose main mission is to improve overall quality of life in their patients.
With regard to vacuum therapy, “Treatments can be very short in duration, and the effects are quick and remarkable,” she says. “If a chiropractor is working with someone who has tight fascia, they can keep adjusting that person, but the fascia or shortened muscle tissue will pull the adjustment back out.” Vacuum therapy can help to loosen the fascia and release soft tissue so the chiropractor’s adjustment can stay in place, she says.
“We can achieve a significant increase in range of movement using vacuum therapy,” Shannon adds. “The techniques soften the tissue and prep it for adjustment techniques in a way that chiropractors have not seen before.”
Her company also offers education for chiropractors looking to gain hands-on knowledge of vacuum therapy techniques. The company continually gathers research obtained from various patient case studies.
The machine that Shannon uses for conducting treatments is offered at a fairly low price point for chiropractors seeking to invest in a new service. “Our focus is all about the techniques and applications, and the machine makes the work so easy,” she says.
According to Shannon, one area in which vacuum therapy has provided significant benefits is a realm that chiropractors might not consider relevant to them. “While vacuum therapies are often used for joint issues and replacements, injury recovery, and chronic-pain issues, we have found that mastectomy patients experience major improvements with vacuum therapy treatments,” she says.
“We have had great results with mastectomy recovery and prepping for reconstruction,” Shannon explains. “I see this as an excellent adjunct therapy for chiropractors. They work not only with their regular patients, but they add a large number of new patients with a vital need. These women would really benefit from adjustments after what they have been through, and no one is noticing that.
“Almost every post-mastectomy patient we’ve worked with has shoulders and a head that have shifted forward, with adhesions and scar tissue impacting the position of the skeletal structure,” Shannon says. Vacuum therapy, combined with traditional chiropractic techniques, can significantly ease these burdens whether a woman moves forward with reconstruction or not.
Vacuum therapy works in reconstruction preparation by loosening the adhesions and scar tissue resulting from the mastectomy, Shannon explains. It aims to prepare and open the area to create space for the implant, and after the surgery it helps to soften the tissue and scars.
“We look at vacuum therapy as a missing link in chiropractic,” Shannon says. “It can be huge addition to a chiropractor’s menu, generating unlimited new business.
“Referral systems for outpatient clinics are really mounting,” Shannon adds. “This type of therapy could actually bring medical communities closer, as surgeons refer their patients to other healthcare facilities (such as chiropractic offices) that can provide such beneficial adjunct care.”
The experts here suggest that by adding a skilled modality to your existing practice such as massage or decompression therapy, you can significantly broaden your patient base and, what’s more, add cash-based services. This can be especially attractive as these kinds of additional services won’t necessarily complicate your billing and collections picture. A new angle on your practice just might invigorate your enthusiasm, too.
Amy Stankiewicz is a freelance writer based in Cleveland, Ohio. She has written for trade publications for more than 15 years. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.