The importance of due diligence
THE PROBLEM: NO TRACK RECORD AND FEW KNOWN CLINICAL RESULTS. As a practicing chiropractor for more than 42 years, like you, I have seen dozens of chiropractic health care products advertised and marketed heavily, hit the shelves and then disappear without fanfare. Unfortunately, like many of you, I bought into some of these, and now they’ve either been nonfunctional, given away, discarded or stored in the closet. Every year, it seems the latest, greatest treatment device hits the market with tons of advertising behind it. However, some of these products have no track record, few known clinical results or no service to help you get maximum use and income out of them.
Critical considerations for any purchase you make for your clinic
Of all the devices introduced, Class IV laser has stood the test of time and continues to grow in popularity. There are literally thousands of laser research articles, demonstrations and videos on the web and social media. As with any product, the doctor needs to separate the wheat from the chaff and purchase what works best for their own patients and their practice. A salesman may have knowledge of the laser, but very few have been in a true clinical environment where the patients pay for their service.
There are two very simple questions that must be answered when considering a laser purchase. First and foremost, will it help my patients? Second, how can I make money using it? While the two questions may be presented in their most basic and absolute form, the answers are critical for any purchase you make for your clinic.
Will it help my patients?
First, we no longer refer to it as laser therapy, but as photo medicine. This nomenclature represents the true nature of laser. Second, helping your patients should be the first and foremost reason for an equipment purchase. Breaking this down further, one needs to look at several factors. Go on the web and watch videos of the product. You can also speak with other doctors you know who use the equipment. However, you must be able to distinguish between actual clinic videos and those that are more hype and infomercials. All manufacturers present their products in the absolute best possible situations, some treating every condition known to man. Believe me, there is no one perfect modality that covers every base on the field, but there are many that can treat a wide variety and range of problems you see on a daily basis.
The impact of photo medicine
Over the years, our clinic basically switched from a myriad of modalities to Class IV laser. We found that Class IV laser could treat nearly all conditions presented in the clinic. Musculoskeletal problems, which are our bread and butter, responded very well to Class IV laser. We also found Class IV laser could be used over superficial bone where other instruments like certain acoustic wave devices could not. It was also noted certain Class IV lasers can be used hands-free when equipped with the proper software and hardware. This protocol saves immense amounts of time since there is no need for a therapist to attend the treatment.
Another factor for patient response is what wavelengths the laser comes with. Some lasers may have only one wavelength, while others may have two, three or four. The most common wavelengths are 810, 915, 980 and 1064. Each wavelength has its own specific function and depth of penetration. Compare each wave to the layer of an onion; as you go from superficial to deep, you are treating a corresponding layer of tissue.
Simply stated, nothing can function without power, and laser therapy falls under that umbrella. Having a proper wavelength isn’t enough for deep penetration. If that was the case, you could purchase inexpensive laser pointers and accomplish the same thing. However, that is not how laser therapy works. The comparison is like driving a nail into a board; there must be a power source to do this, and to accomplish a healing task, the wavelength needs a source of power to do so as well. Many lasers start at around nine watts, while the newer lasers range from 30 to 45 watts, more than enough power to accomplish any healing goal.
There are many good companies from which you can purchase excellent Class IV lasers. However, before any major purchase, you should consider the pros and cons of alternative products to ensure you get the solution that meet your needs. It is also imperative that you investigate wavelength and power levels before making the purchase.
How can I make money using it?
The best equipment in the world will do no one any good if you can’t afford to pay for it or make money using it. Again, this is a basic fact. I am often asked, “what should I charge?” The answer to this question lies in your comfort level and the area you live in. Since photo medicine is not a service covered by insurance, the patient will need to pay for it out of pocket.
In a small town of 8,000 people in Missouri, we charged $40 for photo medicine and recommended a 14-visit protocol. Compliance was fantastic and we had no complaints regarding the price. Many doctors in other larger areas charge anywhere from $50 to $100 per session. You should have no qualms about what you charge.
Think of this: No business has any issues with charging you for goods or services, so when you do an excellent session of photo medicine, you should be fairly compensated. I just had a treatment with an acoustic wave device, and it was $187 a treatment or $1,584 for six treatments. So don’t be afraid to charge for the life-changing service of photo medicine.
Add the cost of therapy into the treatment plan
One of the easiest methods of figuring out pricing is to just add the cost of the therapy into your treatment plans. This has worked well for hundreds and hundreds of doctors.
Our clinic actually set up a stand-alone laser clinic in our existing chiropractic office. We printed out posters, flyers and even did radio spots. All of these piqued the interest of both new patients and existing patients alike. Even if the patient did not ask, we explained laser technology, how photo medicine worked and what it could do for them. After about one year, we had converted to a 50% laser clinic and 50% chiropractic clinic, with most of the chiropractic patients also electing for adjustments and laser. It was amazing how many patients came to us just for laser therapy. Many said they could not have adjustments because their MD said so, or they didn’t want manipulation, or they just wanted to try something different. All of these are viable reasons for photo medicine, which expands your practice into a different realm of expertise.
Finally, look at the cost of the laser you are buying. It is much harder to pay off a $45,000 or $50,000 laser than it is one that costs $14,995, considering both have similar treatment protocols, power and wavelengths. Your return on investment needs to be fast and profitable and it should take months, not years, to cover the cost of the laser. More expensive doesn’t always mean better quality or better results.
In conclusion, do your homework and due diligence when buying a Class IV laser. Learn to separate sales hype from true clinical fact. Don’t be afraid to expand into photo medicine. No matter what laser unit you buy, it will be expensive, so be sure of your purchase. Photo medicine or laser therapy is cutting-edge in-patient rehab. New therapies may come along, but none have the proven track record of Class IV laser.
GARY HUDDLESTON, DC, is a 42-year practicing chiropractor and owner of Medray Laser and Technology. He has treated thousands of patients with Class IV laser with exceptional results. Currently, he only practices in the entertainment and music industry, treating world-famous bands and musicians. He can be reached at 573-745-1086 or via email at email@example.com.