By courageously facing up to any problems, you can aid chiropractic and your own practice
Marketing is not simply a matter of publicizing yourself and your practice. It should also involve the nurturing and promotion of the chiropractic profession.
That is, when you take responsibility upon yourself in your practice and also encourage your regional, state and national organizations to take a prominent role in furthering the profession, you ultimately improve your own practice and enhance your reputation in the eyes of the public.
Of serious concern in recent years is the reputation of medical professionals, in general, and chiropractors in particular. Our exit interviews indicate the public has lost considerable respect for doctors, believing them to be motivated primarily by greed. And the fact that chiropractors have been singled out for Medicare and Worker’s Compensation fee cuts under the resource-based relative value scale indicates that legislators see chiropractors as being particularly culpable.
Regulating the Profession
You should make it your personal goal, therefore, to attempt to correct this negative impression. One way to do so is to police yourself and your colleagues. The profession that learns to regulate itself, after all, will gain a much-needed reputation of concern for the public. Let’s face it! Every profession has members who grow too old to work effectively, are substance abusers, or are unethical.
Most people, however, say nothing to a colleague whom they know to be giving substandard care. This is indeed unfortunate, because it is your job as a professional to see that incompetent or unethical chiropractors are not harming the public before the lawsuits begin to pile up and do irreparable damage to the profession.
Lean on Organizations
Remember, however, that you don’t have to go it alone. An effective local or state organization is the proper channel for disciplinary measures; your responsibility is simply to ensure that those organizations are doing their job.
There has been so much damaging publicity about the lack of peer review that any profession who learns to police its own ranks has a good chance of winning the confidence of the public.
Donate Your Time
Another way to win the public’s trust and contribute to the common good is to donate your time to a clinic for the underserved or disadvantaged. If every medical professional volunteered at such a clinic one or two days per month, we would not be threatened with socialized medicine. All who need health care would receive it. Become conscious of the needs of your community, donate your time and people will see that the medical profession is indeed able to live up to its humanitarian claims.
If you live in a community in which there is no clinic for the needy, try to start one. You don’t need to do it yourself. You can join with other medical professionals and promote both chiropractic and medicine in general.
Educating the Public
Brochures or public service announcements will help make the public aware of what chiropractic is, when to see a chiropractor and what can be expected from the profession. If you cannot find pamphlets, make some yourself.
By all means, help the public to differentiate between chiropractors, physical therapists, osteopaths and orthopedic surgeons during this educational process. We have found that more than 40% of people do not know the difference, and this ignorance obviously hurts you.
Staying current with new techniques also enhances your reputation and ensures your practice will continue after you retire. It is unwise to stay with your old techniques to save yourself the expense and effort of learning new methods. If your practice is modern, after all, you will have something to sell when you retire.
You should try to build an image, therefore, as a clinic, center, or institute so that your practice will continue smoothly after your retirement. And bring on a partner or associate well before you retire so o that the practice does not lose its patient base.
Share the Wealth
In addition to continuing your own education, you should make certain that your staff’s education is up-to-date. Moreover, as you become more successful, make sure your staff shares in the wealth. After all, these individuals helped you get where you are today.
These are a few ways to compensate your staff. They should be given annual pay raises that at least equal the cost of living. If your practice is doing well, give them a bonus as well. You should also provide employees with medical insurance, life insurance and a pension plan.
In addition, you should consider rewarding staff members with educational trips. Pay for their continued education, particularly if they have a desire to become certified in their field. Remember that everything you do to maintain a well-trained efficient staff sends a very important message to your patients. You care enough about them to provide them with the best care possible.
Generosity pays off
When you are generous to your staff, they will be helpful to you in return and will be more likely to refer their friends and relatives to you. I have seen too many medical professionals become greedy as they become successful. Believe me, greed will eventually strangle your business.
Finally, I’d like to offer a word of caution about your financial success. Don’t be too ostentatious. Not only will you be perceived as greedy, but you will become a target for unscrupulous people. For example, I suggest to male doctors that they not drive female babysitters home and that they have their wives do it instead. I have known too many cases of doctors being unjustly accused of improper conduct for the purposes of blackmail, or for filing sexual harassment or sexual advancement charges.
Reputation is Key
Your personal reputation is the key to your success as a chiropractor and you need to guard it as you do your most valuable possession. The reasoning is quite simple: the better your reputation is, both real and perceived, the more you enhance the image of chiropractic, and in turn, help your own practice.
By following the steps I have outlined in this article, you are likely to witness substantial growth in your patient base, retain the patients you already have, and earn the goodwill of your staff and the public.
John W. Gay II, LLD, RFC, CIS, President of the Denver-based consulting firm of John Gay & Associates, has assisted more than 2,600 medical professionals with the management of their practices for over 16 years. Dr. Gay is a Registered Financial Consultant and a Certified Investment Specialist, speaks to professional groups throughout the U.S. and Canada, and has written articles for many professional journals. Please contact him at John Gay & Associates, 303-690-2727.