A surprising number of docs don’t “get” just how beneficial custom orthotics can be to both their patients and their practice.
Some may still struggle with the “foot-spine connection” (even though D.D. Palmer himself wrote of the importance of adjusting the extremities, and volumes of research in the years since have proven the vital link between foot health and spinal health).
Still others prescribe a pair of custom orthotics here or there, but don’t make it a regular practice. If either of these sound like you, you’re missing the boat, both financially and in giving your patients the care they deserve.
Focus on your patients
Nearly 95 percent of DCs already offer some sort of product in their practice, according to recent Chiropractic Economics Salary and Expense Surveys.
But there’s a big difference between the DC who sells an occasional pair of orthotics and one who has successfully leveraged retail as an important revenue stream.
Many DCs confess that they “don’t feel comfortable selling”—that sales feels unprofessional somehow. Successful doctors have reframed their thinking, focusing on the optimal patient experience. Ask yourself why you wouldn’t offer everything you can to ensure your patients are getting better, both inside your office and at home? Why wouldn’t you use every tool at your disposal to get patients engaged in their care?
Your confidence will build as you start to see the payoffs. Because they’re custom products and made to order, you never have to worry about orthotics tying up your cash flow or going unused, cluttering up your shelves and closets.
The following advice is from top- sellers who can show you how to get the most out of custom-made orthotics.
Scan every patient — make it protocol
Problems in the feet can lead to problems throughout the kinetic chain. When you scan every patient, you’ll improve their outcomes and generate more practice income by giving their feet the support they need.
Keep in mind: the average person takes between 5,000 and 10,000 steps a day. With each step, degenerative changes in the muscles, joints, and connective tissues of the feet are reinforced. When the body’s foundation is compromised, joint movement, circulation, and biomechanical functioning throughout the entire body may suffer.
Even if a patient’s feet feel fine, they could be causing trouble elsewhere. Foot imbalance or dysfunction can have ripple effects, transferring problems (and pain) to the legs, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, even the neck. Don’t assume the asymptomatic foot is a healthy foot—scan every patient to be sure.
And if their feet do hurt, that’s the body sending out a distress signal, and it may be time for orthotic support. Plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, bunions, and general foot pain and soreness are just a few of the foot conditions that orthotics can help. They’re also great for athletes, as custom orthotics have been research-proven to help improve biomechanics and reduce the risk of injury.
Tell, don’t sell
But what if the patient doesn’t seem interested in custom orthotics? What if you sense pushback? This touches on that “fear of selling,” Don’t try to sell, tell instead. Patients are coming to you for your expert advice. They want the best of care, and research shows that adjustments plus custom orthotics offer longer-lasting results.
So tell them, “You need custom orthotics.” Does an ophthalmologist asks the patient if he or she needs glasses? No, the ophthalmologist tells. Does a physical therapist ask if it’s OK to engage his or her patient in exercises? The PT tells. For all the issues DCs have with their allopathic peers, there is something they can learn from the medical profession, and that’s confidence.
Use teaching technology
The digital foot scanner is integral to the intake process in many practices, and considering how widespread foot problems are in the population, scanning every patient should be a habit. By talking patients through the results on-screen, you can teach them the concept of body imbalances, and how the feet can play an important role in whole-body foundational posture.
Even if a particular patient decides not to invest in orthotics, the printed report they take home is professional and reminds them of their eye-opening experience with you. Using technology in your practice not only helps with your assessment process, it also gives patients the “wow” factor that will set the stage for repeat visits.
Train your CAs
Make sure your CAs know that foot scanning is part of intake protocol. Every patient should be scanned, regardless of their complaint or health goals; it’s part of the process, just like handing a patient the intake form, and taking their weight, X-rays, and blood pressure (if that’s how you practice).
Having your CAs scan patients means that you can focus on what you do best: patient care and education.
And remember, products can be used to engage your staff, too. Let them try out orthotics—it’s a perk employees appreciate and it arms them with firsthand experience to speak knowledgably to patients.
Try rewarding your staff with lunches or bonuses after a certain number of orthotics are sold. While the payoff of meeting that goal will be appreciated, the experience also boosts confidence and encourages creativity and cooperation among staff members.
The magic of the reorder
The best custom orthotic companies keep patients’ scans on file for up to two years, and offer a discounted price on a second order down the line. You can pass on the savings to your patients or invest it in your practice. Either way, it’s easy, fast, and a no-brainer.
Unless the patient has gone through a major change affecting their pedal health, such as extreme changes in weight, pregnancy, or foot surgery, the old scan should be good to go. Quality custom orthotics will last a while, but it’s recommended the patient replace them every two years.
Give your patients a ring to let them know it’s time, and then call up the orthotic company to request a reorder.
You can have your CA go down the list and call those who may be in need. It’s a great way to re-engage with patients while ensuring they remain supported. Your CA can also suggest they come in for a check-up or adjustment while they have them on the line.
Be sure you have the latest, most modern-looking marketing materials; update that dusty old display. Talk to your patients; train your staff.
It’s clear that custom orthotics work—they help relieve pain, they help your adjustments last longer, and they help the body work better. As your patients experience the difference, so will your practice.
Kevin Wong, DC, is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures, and orthotics. He discusses spinal and extremity adjusting at speaking engagements. He can be contacted through orindachiropractic.com.