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A Call to Innovate

Sponsored by The Joint Chiropractic

It has always been interesting that, as a profession, very
little focus is placed on mapping the necessary evolution of the chiropractic model.
How should chiropractic grow? How does it become more accessible? How can it expand
into mainstream use?

There is research from groups providing treatment guidelines
to improve patient outcomes. There is research on the effectiveness of
chiropractic, and other services provided under the professional scope. There
is even data collected on current usage and understanding of chiropractic
services. However, there is little-to-no data on how the profession should evolve
if it seeks to improve utilization of chiropractic care.  

You may not agree with the above statement, citing surveys conducted to outline the types of practices in existence today. On the other hand, it could be argued that these efforts are merely static analyses lacking insight on all the potential avenues for growth. Recent studies tend to focus on topics such as revenue ratios of cash versus insurance, types of services, product offers, and total revenues generated by such practices. While the data gathered from these studies is useful and directional for what is occurring, they are missing the context of the changing needs and preferences of current and future patients.

To illustrate this point, let’s review the multidisciplinary
chiropractic model. These practices may be capable of generating higher-than-average
revenue numbers, and subsequently there is an assumption that this type of
practice should be the de facto blueprint due to its high-income potential. While
this indeed seems to be a viable practice model, there are unanswered questions
about the needs of the patient. How many avoid
seeking care at this kind of practice? What could this practice be being doing
differently to improve the breadth of its appeal? How many patients continue choosing
conventional health care options? Where is the opportunity for genuine
improvement in the patient experience?

One unique approach that has been gaining ground within
health care is the concept of onsite care provided by a large employer. In this
kind of model, the employer is no longer saddled with the cost of providing health
insurance for their employees, but rather invests those dollars into their own
clinic. This approach provides services directly to employees at a cost savings
to the company, while the employee benefits by having convenient access to
health care services at their workplace. Retail pharmacy chains have taken
similar steps to improve consumer access by adding onsite clinics. They have successfully
transitioned from a prescription refill network to providing convenient health
services for their customers, which is a benefit to both the patient and the
provider. How can chiropractic develop similar delivery success models?

Today, patients are being exposed to more health care innovation
than ever before. As such, this industry must begin to understand what is
relevant to the consumer. As a profession, we need to recognize how and why patients
choose chiropractic, where they prefer to receive their care and how
chiropractic can change its method of delivery to service the 21st
century consumer, including the millennials. We need this information in order
to innovate access to chiropractic care.

As professionals, we also need to modernize our technology.
Consumers today are utilizing smart phones, tablets, computers and social
networks to research their health care options at extremely high rates. Can
chiropractic capitalize on this usage and take advantage of digital media in
order to talk directly to consumers? We must connect with patients on their
preferred platforms with relevant messaging and provide access to a clinic
model that matches their lifestyle. This combination will likely increase the
appeal of chiropractic. Knowledge is power and the reality of patients choosing
chiropractors to be their first provider is not only possible, but it is
starting to happen with small-box retail clinics across the country. 

Innovation is not always well understood and is even resisted at times. However, if we are truly convicted in our belief that patients seeking chiropractic as a first line of defense are prescribed less medications, receive fewer surgeries, have reduced hospital visits and experience quality of life at a higher level, then innovation is necessary.

About the author

Steve Knauf, DC, CHC is the current Vice Chairman for the Arizona Board is Chiropractic Examiners, serves on the ACA’s Committee for Quality Assurance and Accountability, and is the Director of Chiropractic and Compliance for The Joint Chiropractic. 

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