The types of orthotics, and offering custom orthotics in a practice makes a difference for patients and chiropractors
TOO MANY TIMES CHIROPRACTORS ‘DABBLE’ IN ANCILLARY SERVICES. Half-heartedly these services are offered to some patients, not all, based on a variety of factors including time, perception of affordability and lack of keeping the products top-of-mind. This is a mistake. If you offer the service in your practice, offer the service to every patient. This is true for custom orthotics. Every patient who walks through the clinic door is a prime candidate for custom orthotics with the varied types of orthotics available today.
Patient care from the ground up
Doctors, whether long-established or opening a new practice, should consider prescribing custom orthotics for:
- Excellent patient results
- Generating enough revenue to keep the lights on
Start from the ground up — with patient care and getting your practice going. One of the first things you should do is place a foot-scanning kiosk in your practice. It’s good patient care and it’s good practice revenue. Consider the time of year as well. If you’re opening in December, most FSA plans cover orthotics. In the summer get your patients into custom orthotic flip-flops. It’s not unreasonable to prescribe 30 pairs of orthotics in your first month, using seasonality to your benefit.
Starting from the ground up means it all begins with a foot scan. Scan the feet of every patient. The conversation from day one changes with the foot scan, and often gives patients a light bulb moment about their pain. The genesis of the light bulb moment? Education.
Chiropractic care addresses the spine and nervous system, so for patients it can be hard to understand initial discussions about the feet. But with the proper messaging, patients get it. It makes sense to them how the “crookedness” in their body can start with their feet and present as pain in other parts of the body.
You’ll be amazed at the reputation you’ll start to get in your area. Patients will come to see you to get a pair of “those orthotics.” And it’s an amazing new-patient opportunity to shed light on the spine (which often has never been checked) and the three arches of their feet. It’s a much easier conversation and conversion, and patients’ minds are blown when you help them understand that their feet could be the source of their back pain.
In communicating with patients, use the analogy about tires on a car — if there is a problem with one of your tires, it can eventually impact how your car operates. It’s the same with the body.
Show them how far back the problem could have started and how it’s possible to permanently support them from the ground up — all while keeping their favorite footwear. The cherry on top is telling the patient that not only do orthotics help alleviate their pain, they are going to make their footwear more comfortable, too.
Starting with the feet makes your job easier. It helps correct problems faster and helps keep alignments longer. Here’s a quick custom orthotics success story. J.R. suffered from back pain for years. His chiropractor correctly identified moderate to severe pelvic twist, and uneven hips, shoulders and knees. It wasn’t until we checked his feet and addressed his arch collapse with custom orthotics that he found pain relief. He said his “life changed” when he received his custom orthotics, and how “wow” doesn’t even begin to describe how he feels now.
With results like this, patients understand more about their body than just a seemingly simple low-back complaint.
You can expect upwards of 80% of your patients to purchase orthotics when you explain to them all the benefits they receive. It’s all about education. And don’t be afraid to prescribe at least two pairs. You’ll be amazed at how many patients will jump at the chance to be supported in all of their shoes.
Report of findings
Another key component in educating is the report of findings that foot-scanning kiosks generate based on the patient’s foot scan results. The report of findings gives patients a visual understanding of the kinetic chain and is a very valuable tool in helping the patient understand “why custom orthotics.” Explain the “Crooked Man” imagery, and tell patients the way they have walked for the past 25 years, because of foot imbalances, is likely a contributing source to their knee, hip and back pain.
Having patients see their foot scan compared to an optimal scan is a natural launching point to the necessity of custom orthotics. Keep it simple. If their feet don’t look like the optimal feet, then they are a great candidate for custom orthotics.
There is a perception that if insurance doesn’t cover custom orthotics, then patients won’t pay for orthotics. On the whole, this is untrue. Again, it comes back to education.
I tell patients, “You probably don’t bat an eye at paying several hundred dollars for a cell phone or buying an expensive coffee every single day. What are you willing to spend to help make you feel better? These custom orthotics are made to your exact needs, and are proven to help reduce your pain. And on top of that, since they are 100% guaranteed, there’s no risk.”
Another technique that is tremendously helpful in prescribing orthotics: promoting them on digital platforms. Place an emphasis on getting the word out to the public. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Share patient results on your website and social media accounts (with their approval, of course).
Take pictures with patients when they receive their orthotics, and follow up with them about their experience. You wouldn’t believe how the word spreads like wildfire. Friends, family and co-workers of current patients seek me out for treatment and to learn about custom orthotics.
Patients will seek you out from long distances. You’ll become the orthotics and biomechanics go-to expert in your area. Having a great, tangible tool in orthotics to send home with patients gives them relief knowing they are supported outside of your four walls. We know they at least have a great foundation until they can make it back to us for adjustments, laser, taping, therapy, massage, etc.
Custom orthotics can help you establish a niche market as a “foot expert.”
You won’t be in practice very long if you don’t take care of the business side. There are several things about the foot-scanning kiosk that help enhance practice profitability and generate new patients. The patient-run kiosk is a marketing tool and revenue generator that’s on autopilot. Even if they walk into your practice unaware that you offer custom orthotics, by the end of the visit they’ll be asking you about them. But in reality, any foot-scanning technology helps improve patient outcomes, your practice and the marketability of orthotics as a service.
Custom-stabilizing orthotics can help you keep the lights on when your practice is in its infancy. And as you become more and more established in your community, it can start paying for other services such as digital x-ray, drop table, lasers, etc.
Look for a custom-orthotics provider that offers quick turnaround, free custom marketing services, and customer support agents ready to take your call or reply to your email.
My motto is “Giving Hope Through Healing,” and custom orthotics have been integral in helping me achieve this. Stabilizing orthotics can be your most profitable back-end product. Patients love them — and they readily tell their friends about their success.
AMANDA BLEDSOE, DCE, DC, is the owner and operator of Bledsoe Chiropractic in Conway, Ark. After spending several years as an associate doctor, she went into practice on her own in December 2017. She is a graduate of Cleveland Chiropractic College, and one of her goals is to make chiropractic care not just effective for all, but affordable.