Staying competitive often requires expanding your practice by offering more treatment options.
This makes you more appealing to patients experiencing more than one issue or those who’ve tried one particular remedy unsuccessfully and are looking for another more viable option without having to switch doctors to get it. That’s why a number of DCs are considering adding stem cell treatments to their practice.
However, because there are still so many unanswered questions about this particular treatment remedy, many health professionals are choosing to hold off on this type of expansion.
If this is where you are, unsure about whether stem cell treatments would make a good addition to your current service offerings, a little bit of information can go a long way in helping you make this decision for your practice. This starts with understanding exactly what stem cell treatment involves.
What stem cell treatments are
“Stem cell treatments work by taking stem cells from an area of the body that has plenty of dormant cells and then injecting them back into the problem area,” says Alan Vojtech, CMO of Innovations Stem Cell Center in Dallas where they perform approximately three stem cell treatments per day. This enables the healthier, newly injected cells to go right to the source of the issue, thus enhancing the healing process.
Vojtech goes on to explain that there are different types of stem cell treatments and, in the U.S., “bone marrow and fat stem cells as the most popular. Both do well, but there are major differences in quantity and quality,” says Vojtech. B
one marrow takes longer to harvest and yields anywhere from 24 to 80 thousand cells whereas fat stem cells only take approximately five minutes to obtain and just three tablespoons of fat yields around 100 million cells. “It comes down to a numbers game,” says Vojtech. “The more stem cells you can get, the better the chance for result.”
There are age factors to consider as well which make fat cells the better choice. “At age 20, both bone marrow and fat stem cells are healthy and viable,” says Vojtech, “but by age 80, the bone marrow is 20 percent of what it used to be, while the fat has stayed the same.”
Stem cell treatment benefits
There is a lot of ongoing research to determine what types of conditions stem cell treatments benefit. The most common deal with joint related issues, says Vojtech, adding that “knees, shoulders, hips, arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis show the best results.”
Robert Graham, DC, offers stem cell treatments to patients at Revive Wellness & Rejuvenation in Glendale, Arizona and agrees that joint-related conditions respond well to stem cell treatments.
“Stem cell injections are very beneficial for knees, hips, shoulders, elbow, lower back and the neck,” says Graham. “For example, if you have cartilage in your knee or hip, the stem cells will attach to the cartilage and grow new cartilage. Growing new cartilage helps to prevent replacements or other surgeries in the future.”
Treatment results and safety
The effects of stem cell treatments are relatively quick as well as Vojtech says that most patients experience reduced pain and inflammation within 48 hours. “Patient satisfaction is around 85 percent,” Vojtech adds, stating that “when the cells are placed close to the area, we see fantastic results. One doctor in our network has treated over 150 knee patients that needed knee replacement. Only one has gone on to get a replacement after stem cell treatment.”
Graham has experienced the same positive results at Revive, but warns that “every patient is different.” That being said, if a patient is considered a good candidate for this type of procedure, “their outcomes are very favorable,” he says. “We have had patients who have received stem cell injections in their lower back and, over the course of a few days, have seen significant results in their posture and stiffness.”
Both Vojtech and Graham agree that stem cell treatments are very safe. “It’s very similar to a steroid injection one might get,” says Vojtech, and “the cells come from the patient, so there is no risk of rejection.” Graham adds that “what gets injected into the area of concern is the ‘master cell,’ so it’s the most natural thing to inject into your body.”
Plus, “there is no down time or surgery,” says Graham, making this treatment a more prevalent patient choice.
“This is the new medicine and many docs are jumping on the bandwagon since it’s cash pay,” says Vojtech, who prompts patients to make sure the office they choose to get stem cell treatment from is connected with an investigatory review board and stem cell network.
It’s not cheap to add to your practice either, says Vojtech, as “this experience comes with a hefty price tag of $30,000-$50,000” when starting up…just one more thing to consider when deciding whether to offer this service at yours.