Fear casts a long shadow. When you were a kid, did shadows in a darkened room look like monsters and boogiemen?Â Did your fears evaporate when the lights came on? Think of all the things you were afraid of that turned out to be nothing.
Some DCs, including students and doctors in the field, are worried about the future of chiropractic. They worry about paying off student loans, navi- gating the business of a chiropractic practice, and whether they can thrive and become successful.
The recession has paralyzed a lot of new and established doctors with fear. But likewise many doctors have survived numerous recessions. It will help to understand what happens to doctors in a recession.
First, they are afraid of the economy. It is common for doctors to worry that they will go out of business in a contracting business cycle. And, as long as a doctor thinks his or her practice will go down (for any reason), their practice typically does go down.
Doctors who are frightened of the economy “pull in their horns,” i.e., they reduce their overhead. While this might seem like a wise move, it’s actually a huge mistake.
They reduce their overhead by reducing their marketing. If they were advertising, they stop. If they were in a civic club, they quit to save on dues. They quit going to their practice consulting programs to save money.Â· If they don’t have a consultant, they don’t consider hiring one. In other words, they reduce their marketing expenses and try to “coast” through the recession.
Unfortunately, when people coast they always go downhill. And when they do, their income goes down too. One reason is that insurance reimbursements change rapidly. Unless doctors are up-to-date with their insurance codes, their income will go down, or not be up where it should be.
Doctors who fail to seek expert guidance on these issues risk an inevitable downturn. If you think the economy is the reason a new practice is struggling, ask yourself why other new doctors’ practices are growing in the same economy?
DCs are worried about the Affordable Care Act. You might know a doctor who isn’t going to remodel or build an office because of uncertainty about the affects that the Affordable Care Act might have.
But, here are the facts: We are already operating under the Affordable Care Act and it hasn’t hurt anyone. We don’t know what the final result of the Act is going to be, because Congress hasn’t settled some issues. But, why worry about something that hasn’t happened? That’s like worrying about the boogieman.
The facts are on your side. Chiropractic is a needed profession – people hurt themselves, DCs fix them. Chiropractic has been around since 1898 and there is going to be chiropractic for the next 100 years, too. The public needs chiropractors. Most people don’t want to be drugged; they want to get well naturally. And DCs are good at delivering wellness. That is why the profession has grown and will continue to do so.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for chiropractors is expected to increase by 28 percent from 2010 to 2020. That’s faster than the average estimated for any other occupation.
Chiropractic has come a long way. If you look at how the profession has changed over the last hundred years, you can appreciate the progress we’ve made, thanks to chiropractic’s political and academic leaders. Some 50 years ago, only about 10 percent of chiropractors succeeded in private practice. Today that percentage is much larger.
There was a time when no insurance covered chiropractic. Later, when insurance companies started paying DCs, they only paid about $3 to $4 a visit (and DCs were thrilled to get that much).
Eventually, chiropractic became fully covered by insurance. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement followed. Now, under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans will be covered for healthcare – and chiropractic is included.
What’s more, a recent federal study showed that more chiropractic employees (CAs, etc.) are needed because the chiropractic profession continues to grow. The future of chiropractic looks bright.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear is what froze people in the Great Depression. They quit spending money because they were afraid and that drove the country into a deeper economic crisis. But, when the public grew confident and started spending money again, it helped put people back to work and the Depression ended.
Recommendations for getting started
- Eliminate your fears and start your new practice. New doctors who stick their heads in the sand are going to see their new careers struggle or fail.
- Invest in your new practice. Do any remodeling necessary. There are plenty of tradespeople in your community who can use the work. Some might even become new patients as well as referral sources.
- Associate with a good new practice consultant who can show you how to keep your overhead down and build your practice up. Whenever government changes the rules and regulations, a good practice consultant will change their recommendations to match these changes and keep your new practice growing.
- Stay ahead of the economy. Advertise, market, and follow your new practice consultant’s advice. Network in your community. When the economy does turn around, which it will, you’ll reap the all benefits, because you built your practice when others were frozen in place.
The future of chiropractic looks bright.