Mobile chiropractic offers patients convenience-based health care and is becoming in demand in our time- and travel-sensitive culture
In the past few months, several stories of chiropractors going mobile have found their way into the headlines.
For example, on January 11, 2019, Richmond Magazine published “Adjustments on the Fly,” an article about Thomas Sontag, a doctor of chiropractic (DC) who started his own mobile chiropractic practice after realizing that this treatment remedy was being majorly underutilized.
On June 28, 2019, Cherokee One Feather published a similar story about Eric Shapiro, DC, and his wife taking their practice on the road after realizing there were no chiropractors to serve patients in the Cherokee, N.C., area.
Mobile chiropractic’s increasing popularity
“I’ve been doing this about a year,” says Nick Rodriguez, DC, owner of KC Mobile Health in Olathe, Kan., “and I have found that apparently there is a large market for chiropractors to do this type of thing.”
Rodriguez says that he knows of approximately 20 chiropractors who have mobile units similar to his. “I’m sure there is another one to two thousand that do house calls around the country,” he adds.
There’s even a private Facebook group that Rodriguez is part of that has almost 1,500 members and is “extremely helpful if someone wants to get into the mobile/house call.” It is the House Call Chiropractors Forum and one of its administrators is Lucas Marchand, someone Rodriguez refers to as “a pioneer of this mobile chiropractic movement.”
Part of what makes going mobile appealing is that it offers DCs and patients alike a number of benefits that aren’t necessarily found with a brick-and-mortar business.
Rodriguez shares that one of the main benefits is the ability to offer patients convenience-based health care. He says this was something he knew he wanted to do when, while working as an associate, “patients would always ask me, ‘Why don’t chiropractors do house calls?’”
Rodriguez also knew he wanted to practice in the Olathe area.
“Only problem was, real estate is astronomically expensive,” he says. “It was too much for a new grad.” That’s when he started brainstorming because he knew that the only thing he needed was “my hands and equipment.”
Initially, Rodriguez says he thought about building a small van and doing house calls, but he was concerned that he’d spend too much time on the road. Although he does still offer these types of services with his car or truck and a portable table, he decided a mobile clinic would be better because it would enable him to provide chiropractic services to multiple patients at one location.
“Lots of businesses didn’t like the idea of bringing my table into their facility for liability purposes,” Rodriguez says. However, because he can now do adjustments out of a mobile clinic he parks outside, this issue is resolved.
“They love it,” he says.
Some of these companies pay Rodriguez a flat fee to offer their employees chiropractic services for set amounts of time, for instance from 9 a.m. to noon. For others, Rodriguez offers services to their employees for a fee that many choose to cover with their HSA or FSA accounts.
Challenges of mobile chiropractic
What are the cons? One is that you need a place to store your mobile unit. While Rodriguez spends two to three days a week traveling to businesses and events, “the other days I’m not,” he says. “I’m stationary.”
Fortunately, the area where he keeps his unit is zoned so he can operate a business out of it.
“Patients can come to me just like a normal doctor’s visit,” he says. “That has been really good for me because, in my associate job, I developed a pretty good patient base. I transferred most of them to my new clinic.”
There is also the issue of maintenance, but there are maintenance costs associated with a brick-and-mortar business too. Plus, as long as you maintain your mobile unit, these costs are minimal Rodriquez says, adding that “the positives way outweigh the negatives.”
Creating the right set-up
For chiropractors who are interested in going mobile, the right set-up is critical. Ideally, it is one that enables you to provide adjustments and still have room to move.
For instance, Rodriguez’s mobile health clinic is a 30-foot, climate-controlled treatment room created from a trailer he purchased and hired a couple of people to gut and turn into a mobile chiropractic office. It has a waiting area with two massage chairs and a television. It even has a bathroom, which is a necessity because he also provides physicals for those who are required to have them through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“My treatment room is big enough for a portable table with drops,” Rodriguez says, adding that not every mobile chiropractor chooses to use a drop table. Some use portable tables without drops, especially if they don’t have a mobile clinic to do house calls.
Additionally, Rodriguez shares that he placed his table in an 8 by 8.5-foot square inside the mobile unit as, between he and the patient, this allows for plenty of room for treatment.
The one thing that Rodriguez says his mobile chiropractic practice is lacking is diagnostic equipment. Yet, he gets around this is by referring patients to an imaging center. This way he can gain access to their x-rays without having the expense or needing the extra room to put an x-ray machine in his mobile unit.
The service is becoming so popular that consultation services have emerged on the internet to help chiropractors make the transition to mobile chiropractic. For an ever-busier clientele, the future could be mobile.