You can help patients find paths to sustainable wellness.
Changing demographics and industry-based competition have completely altered the landscape for today’s chiropractor. At one time, simple adjustments for those with upper- and lower-back discomfort appeared to be a lucrative alternative to allopathic care. As it becomes increasingly difficult to run a thriving practice in the current environment, the chiropractor of tomorrow must seek out new opportunities for growth similar to the way D.D. Palmer altered medicine in the late 1800s.
According to analyses made available in late 2012 and 2013, consumers today seek newer and better alternatives for care as they face increased insurance and medical costs. Even as consumers age, they appear to be committed to avoiding medicinal products to aid in symptomatic care.
A report from Packaged Facts found supplement market sales across the U.S. have shown strong, steady growth in the midst of economic uncertainty, posting a 7 percent gain in 2012.1 The report suggests that veterans, baby boomers, and a small cohort of Generation Xers form the core market for supplemental products. Moreover, in 2015 and beyond, that market is expected to double.
Given that many chiropractors focus on biochemical areas of the body during their course of study, the use of supplements aligns with the core components of holistic health. As opportunities arising in the form of nutrition counseling and weight management do not undermine the core principles of chiropractic, a focus on wellness is a clever strategy for practices grappling with changing times.
Shifts in demographics are affecting healthcare. As the population ages as a whole, the number of individuals seeking doctors to aid in chronic issues such as joint and lower-back pain, digestion problems, and stress is increasing.
As this occurs, the average medical doctor sees approximately 2,500 patients per year. With doctors leaving primary practice due to economic hardship, that number is expected to grow. Therefore, the chiropractic community is well-positioned to step in.
Look good, feel better
Despite the number of anti-aging products, laser treatments, and surgery options out there, many individuals are seeking natural alternatives to deter the effects of aging. Here, chiropractors may dispense advice within their scope of practice about long-term wellness.
For example: DCs can provide advice on proper vitamin usage and individualized programs and protocols. Because most consumers have questions about vitamin intake, and no two people are exactly alike, you can provide counseling and personalize a program based on minerals, hydration, sodium content, triglycerides, and more. Patients can possibly increase their mobility and flexibility, rekindle some of that youthful spirit, and save money by avoiding ill-suited programs and products.
The weight crisis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70 percent of adult Americans and almost 20 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.2-3 In addition, Worldometers reports the U.S. has “the highest obesity statistics of 22 industrialized countries.”4
An increase in fast-food consumption, coupled with low physical activity, largely contributes to this problem. With the increase in fast foods, the chemicals and additives in food products, and the manner in which Americans eat, obesity is not dwindling. Some stores facilitate such behavior by providing scooters and other ways to let people avoid walking. The predictable result is increasing rates of cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. Something needs to change.
As with nutritional products, the number of fad diets and systems currently available in the market to alleviate obesity has increased over the last few decades. Organizations such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisystem use prepared meals. Robert Atkins many years ago in formulating the Atkins diet indicated that individuals should eat more protein and fewer carbohydrates. Yet from the myriad self-help books to relative starvation, no definite cure for obesity has emerged.
Individuals today need help, and they are uncertain where to obtain it. Weight management is an area where you can be exceedingly informative. Because obesity contributes to joint pain and lethargy, chiropractors can be consultants who provide counseling to individuals about diet, exercise, and proper food groups.
Both present and future patients can look to you as someone concerned about the whole body and not just a specific target area. Doing so will open up new opportunities in patient care. You then are able to provide both weight management consultation and also supplementation services. The benefit to the individual is not only weight loss but also feeling improved health and gaining relief from joint and back pain.
If you’re doubtful about choosing either of these two routes—supplement offerings or weight loss consultation—think again. For many years, dentists have required their patients visit them an average of two to four times a year simply for dental hygiene and teeth cleaning. Research indicates that doing so can ward off problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
The body runs best when it obtains the proper fuel. The types of foods put into the body can help achieve maximum potential or ruin it. Therefore, wellness guidance can support a healthier, happier, and longer-living patient. Moreover, because relationships are about trust and respect, patients who seek wellness advice may visit more often and provide additional practice growth—something a doctor thinking of tomorrow should bite into.
Drew Stevens, PhD, is a practice management expert with more than 30 years of experience. His most recent book is Practice Acceleration, published by Greenbranch Publishing. He can be contacted at 877-391-6821 or through stevensconsultinggroup.com.
1 Schultz H. “Supplement sales hit $11.5 billion in U.S., report says.” NutraIngredients-USA.com. http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Markets/Supplement-sales-hit-11.5-billion-in-U.S.-report-says. Published September 20, 2012. Accessed November 2014.
2 National Center for Health Statistics. “Obesity and Overweight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm. Updated May 14, 2014. Accessed November 2014.
3 National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “Childhood Overweight and Obesity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html. Updated August 5, 2013. Accessed November 2014.
4 Worldometers. “Obesity.” http://www.worldometers.info/obesity/. Accessed November 2014.