Who indeed is driving the health care market today if not the employers in America? Employers have been and increasingly continue to be the ultimate consumer of managed care plans. So, how do you get invited to industry’s door?
As you the Doctor of Chiropractic know, too many health care networks exclude chiropractic services along with other ancillary services from health care packages sold to companies. And all too many deprive individuals (employees) the freedom of making informed and rational decisions regarding their own health and well-being.
As most families include two wage earners dependent upon corporate health care plans for whatever medical attention is necessary for themselves and their family members, only the fortunate few remain who are permitted a choice of physicians with options available for alternative or complementary health care. In an era of information available at the fingertips, individuals may become increasingly knowledgeable concerning personal health and welfare needs to make quality decisions for the care they and their dependents are to receive. Yet, liberty to pick and choose is often limited and/or eliminated. The choices are most frequently made by the employer through the purchase of a contracted health care plan and passed down to the wage earner.
As the public’s desire and pursuit of alternative medicine increases, employers will need to reconsider their packages for employees to include alternative options of care for their most valuable resource their human resources.
CHIROPRACTIC OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH A VISION BEFORE IT’S TIME
The birth of the awareness that chiropractic may offer a major professional contribution to the health and safety of workers has occurred long before these past two decades when those within this profession have become active to advance chiropractic in the area of occupational health consulting (Bernardino Ramazinni is credited as the Father of Occupational Medicine from the Eighteenth Century). Initially, from 1980 to the present, it was the vision of a small, but dedicated group in the chiropractic profession to cause them to unite their minds, expertise and efforts to bring about support for chiropractors faced with the challenge of advancing their practices through chiropractic occupational health consulting services. The group continues to grow. Its influence has caused the profession’s leadership entity to recognize this specialty area. Hence, the development of the ACA Council on Occupational Health (ACACOH) and the reality of the American Chiropractic Board on Occupational Health and its diplomat (DACBOH) program (postgraduate chiropractic occupational health training).
The vision, yet to receive its due recognition, remains blurry to a large portion of the profession. The daily struggle continues in reaching the profession to spread the message that chiropractors are very much dependent on employers for current and future profitable practices and that resources and training are available. Fortunately, the profession’s leadership continues to see the need to educate employers about chiropractic and its clinical and cost effectiveness is exactly what employers need to decrease unnecessary expenses on workers’ compensation. Although corporate America is genuinely interested in displaying their caring nature for workers through offering the very best health care benefits, the reality remains that money talks. Whatever cost effective and efficient measures avail to a company’s decision-makers to ensure a profitable bottom line will significantly help determine utilization of health and safety services.
Businesses and insurance companies who are speaking daily with chiropractors throughout the nation and beyond, are acting upon their own visions in their pursuit for clinical and cost effective care the profession may offer for neuromusculoskeletal disorders caused by workplace mishaps. Because of excessive dollars spent on workers’ compensation, and out of need to adhere to compliance with OSHA standards and requirements, corporations are (although somewhat slowly) modifying health and safety programs towards a preventive model as opposed to a crisis-oriented one. Prevention and chiropractic are synonymous! While the prevailing question from chiropractors is, “How will I ever get invited to industry’s door?” more than ever DCs are heard from who have successfully influenced key decision-makers within corporate health care, and have been sought out for services through relationship building techniques.
A doctor in Puerto Rico receives calls from many hundreds of one company’s employees to request his services… another doctor in Vermont is contacted by three insurance companies to provide services in the form of worker selection through physical screening processes… while yet another chiropractic clinic has been contacted by a human resources director whose mother heard a motivational seminar given by the chiropractor. (This particular company embraces a proactive philosophy of health and safety and wellness, and has converted an office space to an on-site chiropractic treatment facility.) These are only a few examples of the vision coming to fruition.
Part of the ongoing vision is to offer specialized training for DCs towards acquiring the diplomate status (DACBOH). While the scheduling of this postgraduate occupational health training remains challenging, and is not yet readily available in every region, it continues to become a reality for many. Currently, more than forty DCs have successfully completed the 360 hour (Phases I, II and III) training, and have accomplished the comprehensive examination processes to earn such status.
Yet another forty or so DCs are well on their way to completing the third and final phase of the training. Approximately 1500 DCs have participated in at least the first 120 hours (Phase I) of the 360 hour training requirement.
At the non-profit International Academy of Chiropractic Occupational Health Consultants (IACOHC), the phones ring with DCs who have also detected the same visionthat they have opportunities available as an industrial consultant and that the employer is driving the health care market. These doctors have already begun to recognize the potential success for their practices by actively pursuing and maintaining rapport with employers and other safety and health decision making professionals.
It is safe to say that at least 95% of the DCs now functioning as occupational health consultants to industry have become involved as a result of a positive, professional relationship with a key personbe it a local employer or the mother of a human resources director. Establish-ing and nurturing positive, professional one-on-one relationships with employers is central to the much desired and sought-after invitation to industry’s door! This cannot be emphasized enough.
Marketing chiropractic occupational health services may be done through many methods, however, it is rubbing shoulders with key people (and sometimes not-so-key people) that effectively bridges the gap between the workplace and the chiropractic office. Mass mailings have their place in marketing, but often become “spray and pray” methods leaving the DC disappointed with only minimal results.
Dr. Robert Dubro, President of the ACACOH, recently expressed during a telephone conference call that the time has come when DCs need to create their own source or situation whereby the individual doctor’s practice will survive and thrive, rather than wait for the source to present itself a call for proactive measures! I believe that source he speaks of is found only through diligence, perseverance and through people the most valuable resource to corporate America and the chiropractic profession!
Recently I had the privilege of hearing futurist Jennifer James, PhD., of Seahurst, Washington, speak about how change affects us all. From changing our vision of how things should be, to how we have done them in the past, to how they are done today, change may often be perceived as a threat to our integrity. We’ve dedicated our lives to make things happen the way they have; creating myths (often unable to see past them) and telling our tribal stories to generations that follow our footsteps in business and home life. So when conditions rise up ordering change, our guard goes up in resistance first. After all of our hard work, we often react to change as an attack to undermine our successes. Frequently, a period similar to that of grieving over loss results from the need for change, producing denial, anger, and finally moving us on through a process towards acceptance.
Managed care, needless to say, has caused significant changes in how Americans receive health care services. Although it is probably here for quite some time it changes how the chiropractic practice can survive. Our country’s leaders have not yet successfully created health care reform to satisfy the nation’s needs for quality health care for every citizen, nor restored the freedom for choosing health care to the individual. So the employer’s control of the health care market continues.
Proactively seek to place yourself in positions to establish and maintain contact/dialogue with the local employers in your community. Whether by your own invitation to educate them about chiropractic or over casual coffee, your personal, positive interaction with them is key to gaining the trust needed for placing yourself at their fingertips when the health, welfare and safety needs of employees and employee’s families arise.
AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH EMPLOYERS
The IACOHC is a non-profit corporate entity established in 1983 with the mission to foster public health and safety through education, ergonomics, optimal clinical management and other measures. Although the IACOHC has many resources available to assist chiropractors in providing occupational health consulting services to local industry and business, recently the IACOHC has designed and developed a corporate safety newsletter. It is titled, Healthy Workers Healthy Families Complementary and Alternative Safety and Health care News to Use (HWHF).
It is clear to the IACOHC that Doctors of Chiropractic need assistance in getting started with industry, hence, the publication’s development. While HWHF includes cutting edge information useful for the employer and corporate safety and health professionals to make their jobs easier, it is designed as a marketing tool for you to purchase as a gift subscription for the local companies to which you wish to market your expertise and services. A bimonthly publication, every issue includes significant information to educate employers on what chiropractic is and its cost and clinical effectiveness.
A highly affordable marketing tool, HWHF will help you to have the one-on-one experience with employers. Easily, by personally providing a gift subscription to each of your local businesses, (keeping in mind that small business is America’s largest business), your minimal investment will be returned many-fold. HWHF is available in multiple subscriptions, with annual fees (per subscription order) starting from $29 to as low as $16, depending on quantity ordered. (HWHF is a copyrighted publication and may not be reproduced.) It is a means whereby you may add to your list of available resources for the enhancement or survival of your practice.
CREATE YOUR ROAD MAP TO SURVIVAL
Plans for any new venture begin with a vision and usually include a road map and directions for getting from one place to another. The vision for chiropractic success has changed from that of generations before because the driver of the health care market has changed. Try to see managed care for what it is, and look for the opportunities. While the road to successfully advancing your practice and building its image and esteem may not be smoothly paved, today there is another opportunity to move towards the goal of profitable relationships with the local businesses and industries in your community.
“Establishing and nurturing positive, professional one-on-one relationships with employers is central to the much desired and sought after invitation to industry’s door.”
Beth L. Auppl is the Executive Director of the International Academy of Chiropractic Occupational Health Consultants (IACOHC). She is the Editor of The Academy, Chiropractic Health Newsletter, and of Healthy Workers Healthy Families Complementary and Alternative Safety and Healthcare News to Use. She is the Senior Editor of the ACACOH Occupational Health Briefs, and Resource Coordinator for the ACA Council on Occupational Health (ACACOH). Both the IACOHC and the ACACOH are non-profit organizations.
WHO CAN HELP:
CHIROPRACTIC OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS
ACA Council on Occupational Health
The ACACOH* and its diplomate (DACBOH)
program is at your disposal and also offers sources of support to the DC. The diplomate program offers postgraduate occupational health training.
international academy on Occupational Health
The IACOHC* exists to serve the profession and to provide tools for selling yourself and your services. It’s mission is to foster public health and safety through education, ergonomics, optimal clinical management and other measures.
For More Information
To acquire an information pack about the IACOHC, the ACACOH, and for details on Healthy Workers Healthy Families newsletter (HWHF), simply contact either group by telephone/fax at (507) 455-2524, or write IACOHC/ ACACOH, 930 Crestview Lane, Owatonna, MN 55060-2116. Please include $12 to cover postage and printing costs. Check or VISA/MC are accepted.
*A non-profit organization.