Beginning in 2015, the leadership of the American Chiropractic Association assessed that it was time to take stock of the organization and ask some difficult questions.
During the latter half of 2017, some two years later, the governing members exhaustively pored over the results of studies, surveys, and internal assessments.
Then, in September 2017, the ACA rolled out their new logo, website, and overall rebranding. As Chiropractic Economics began to observe, additional examples of the changes taking place were clearly demonstrating that the new look of the ACA was more than a cosmetic update. Deep, substantive transitions have been taking place in the association’s governance and structure, and they have completely rethought what it means to be a member.
Most organizations devise a mission statement for themselves, and it’s usually the work of a committee. The end result is typically complicated, unclear, and filled with business buzzwords. Here’s the new ACA mission statement:
“To inspire and empower our members to elevate the health and wellness of their communities.” This is what it looks like when an association has a firm sense of itself and its goals. And under values, they list the following:
- We model excellence in patient-centered, evidence-based care.
- We serve our patients in the interest of public health.
- We participate in the health care community through collaboration and integration.
- We hold each other to higher standards.
Shaking things up
As of March 2018, the leadership structure of the ACA will reflect the new streamlined vision for the association. Working with the nation’s foremost expert on association governance, they shed layers of bureaucracy to create a command structure that can pivot quickly and deploy changes in far less time than before. For example, the ACA has eliminated the Council of Delegates and district structure, and the position of chairman of the Board of Governors (the ACA president now occupies that role).
To learn more, we met with ACA President David Herd, DC.
“Back in 2015 our steering committee took a look at the state of the ACA, and felt that without a strong, clear message, our efforts aren’t effective. We wanted to know what the public thought the ACA stood for,” Herd says.
They finally got the branding report in the summer of 2016, and saw they had to make internal changes, and started the work of changing their method of community support and internal systems. “We presented our findings at the National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC) meeting in March 2016, and we got a standing ovation from the members when we made the announcement.
We’re still working on living the brand—when we stop talking about the brand then we’ll know that we’re living it.”
A major reorientation of the ACA was the decision to champion a patient-centered, evidence-based conception of chiropractic. There’s no fuzziness, no lack of clarity about what the ACA plans to do. And that necessitated changing their stance from trying to represent all doctors of chiropractic. Now, they are focusing on supporting the ACA membership as a guiding star.
“We’re going to be true to our own values,” Herd says. “Where our values overlap with those of others, we’ll look for collaborations. We’re going to be more deliberate in what we’re doing with our brand.”
To name some recent ACA successes, Herd points to new changes at the Department of Veterans Affairs: “VA docs can start doing DOT physicals in the VA system—a expansion of work. The VA is the place where the majority of MDs are trained, and the ability of DCs to be treated as equal colleagues will elevate the impression that MDs have of DCs in the country. It really does help us all. And there’s an economic advantage with respect to revenue.”
Herd nods to Anthony Lisi, DC, with particular appreciation. “He has been a godsend to the profession and has done an outstanding job, and we couldn’t have a better person doing what he does.” Lisi was named national director of chiropractic services for the VA, and recently received ACA’s “Chiropractor of the Year” award, the association’s highest honor.
“Our biggest agenda item now is a Medicare equality bill, and we’re working on that with the House Ways and Means Committee. Medicare equality legislation is something we started focusing on four years ago. It would allow DCs to be reimbursed for all the services they provide under their state scope of practice.” Herd explains that it would mirror the language that describes what MDs and osteopaths can do. “Right now, we only get paid for spinal subluxation correction. We can provide an exam, but the patient has to pay for that.”
Spearheading this effort will be the ACA’s senior vice president of government relations, John Falardeau who recently received an honorary DC degree from the University of Western States.
So far, the rebranding effort is looking like a successful venture: “Since the relaunch, we’ve seen membership increase. Older members have returned to join us again, many saying, ‘It’s about time.’ When we were trying to cater to everyone, we were unfocused. But when you decide where you want to be, it’s easy for others to decide to join you.”