A practice that combines a variety of services can offer more benefits to its patients.
By Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC
A multidisciplinary practice provides both allopathic and holistic therapies with a two-pronged “corrective” and “wellness” approach. Today, the multidisciplinary practice is the cutting-edge battleground of healthcare reform, integrating chiropractic with mainstream healthcare.
There is a clear scope of practice between allopathic and chiropractic healthcare, and multidisciplinary practices provide patients with the best of both disciplines. It is time for healthcare practitioners of all disciplines to make their services more accessible to patients in one-stop, holistic-allopathic blended healthcare practices that honor the disciplines of all practice members involved.
Two trends converge
Two seemingly divergent trends reveal important information about the practice of chiropractic in the decade ahead. The first trend is consolidation: Approximately 30 percent of medical physicians remain in private practice.
The group medical practice has become the most-common model for the practice of medicine. This is now the prevailing trend in the practice of chiropractic.
Chiropractors across the country are finding safety in numbers. They understand that consolidating services in the form of joint practices is a more cost-effective, stable manner in which to deliver healthcare to the maximum number of patients.
One-stop shopping, where the patient receives chiropractic, medical, and physical therapy services is an important trend to recognize. The trend toward multidisciplinary practice consolidation extends beyond the combination of physical medicine services under one roof.
Multidisciplinary practices can include multiple healing modalities, including massage, podiatry, nutrition, and acupuncture. This results in a second trend, known as diversification. Multidisciplinary practices consolidate location and the variety of services delivered. This highly coordinated, cost-effective manner of delivering patient care is defining the practice of today and the future.
Legal compliance is key
A multidisciplinary practice is not the result of changing your practice into a medical practice with a few legal slights of hand. It is not a method of increasing your revenues by misrepresenting your services as medical, nor is it a method of fraudulently obtaining insurance coverage for chiropractic treatments that would otherwise not be covered.
A multidisciplinary practice should be created for the benefit of your patients. A multidisciplinary practice can offer your patients a much broader scope of services than those available in either a medical or chiropractic practice alone. It will also deliver these services in a more efficient and cost- effective manner.
A true multidisciplinary practice provides a team approach to healthcare. You deliver chiropractic, the medical physician provides upgraded diagnostic capabilities, and the physical therapist offers active care rehabilitation. Once your legal and operational infrastructure is in place, you are ready to hire your professional staff.
When you operate your practice correctly, legally, and with proper professional guidance, adopting a multidisciplinary model will grow your practice considerably. Your increased scope of services can attract more patients and result in a larger patient volume.
Your multidisciplinary practice can also gain increased access to the healthcare market. While less than 10 percent of the population seeks chiropractic, approximately 98 percent goes to medical practices.
A multidisciplinary practice allows you the opportunity to offer chiropractic to a larger segment of the population, many of whom may never have sought out chiropractic otherwise. This expanded access alone can significantly increase the volume of patients and services rendered in your practice.
When are you ready for multidisciplinary?
The multidisciplinary practice model is beneficial to practices currently seeing at least 80 to 100 patient visits per week. Before undertaking the process of converting to the multidisciplinary model, your practice should have a financial cushion of a minimum of three months’ of operating expenses.
You should not even consider a multidisciplinary model until you have a proven track record of successfully operating a chiropractic-only facility. There are numerous laws, regulations, and guidelines that must be adhered to in chiropractic practice, and in multidisciplinary practice these are multiplied many times over.
Retaining the services of an attorney and management consultant who are familiar with your state’s legal and business requirements for multidisciplinary practices is an investment that will save you time, trouble, and money in the long run.
Some chiropractors hesitate to embrace the multidisciplinary model for fear that they will no longer be chiropractors or that they will sacrifice their philosophy in the process. In fact, you have nothing to fear in this respect. It is indeed possible to create a wellness-based multidisciplinary practice that honors the art, science, and philosophy of chiropractic. The dawn of this decade has seen the chiropractic philosophy rise to the forefront of healthcare.
Success on multiple levels
Those practices that master combining a wellness-based practice with a multidisciplinary setting will become the predominant force in the delivery of non-crisis healthcare to our nation’s population.
These practices understand that health comes from the inside out, and not from the outside in.
As a profession, we have attempted to change the healthcare delivery system of our nation for more than 100 years, working from outside the system.
By embracing medical and alternative healthcare professions within a multidisciplinary practice setting, chiropractic can change the way our nation embraces it as a healing modality.
Mark Sanna, DC, is a member of the Chiropractic Summit, the ACA Governor’s Advisory Board, and a board member of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. He is the president and CEO of Breakthrough Coaching, and can be reached at 800-723-8423 or through www.mybreakthrough.com.