Randall Hammett, DC
Private Practice of Chiropractic
The one consistent thing is change, and I tell you for sure 2013 will be a challenge for many chiropractors. With changing health laws both federal and state changing insurance policies to cover shortages you can expect more financial stress and more focus on documented care with less reimbursement. In my own town I’ve already been notified that several government-backed insurance plans are increasing their deductibles and copayments by vast amounts to cover shortages. The good news is, and there is good news! The health industry has typically been inflation and recession proof. Don’t get me wrong, doctor’s incomes have dropped the last five years and yet it’s been estimated that 5 to 7% of doctor’s incomes have increased. The question is what will your practice hold for you in 2013?
The last three years have seen unusual solutions to practice problems in chiropractic. One example is the low fee Doc in a box corporate chiropractor office that seemingly undercuts every chiropractor’s fee in their path. As a practitioner for over 33 years I’ve seen many financial games played in the profession and in my experience the low fee high-volume chiropractic offices eventually collapse financially, it’s not if it’s only when. My opinion about your fees is simply charge what you believe you are worth and the true value of the services you provide. One of the things I recommend that you do in 2013 is receive chiropractic care from a colleague near you and pay them their full fee for each treatment. Psychologically, paying out of your own pocket for chiropractic care will put you in touch with the reality of what your patients have to pay and in some cases you’ll find that you’re not charging enough for the services you provide. The keynote for the year is to stay flexible in your business planning and in your practice marketing. Keep in mind that patients will always gravitate to the practice where doctors produce outstanding, fast symptomatic relief with good post pain educational information for patients to decide if they wish to continue with the chiropractic lifestyle.
Be sure in your practice that you offer patients at least three types of care for their health. Pain relief, corrective care and wellness or maintenance care are typically the three types of care that we offer patients. An important part to remember is that you must honor what patients choose and not step over your bounds. For example the patient wants relief care for a few visits than honor that and when they are out of pain release them and explain to them that they’re always welcome back if and when the pain returns. Corrective care should be based on strict clinical protocols such as those found in CBP® so that patients can clearly understand what they’re paying for and can easily see the postural x-ray changes you’re providing. Wellness or maintenance care should be recommended for everyone but typically in the chiropractic office only 5 to 7% will follow through, if this is true in your practice then you’re doing a good job and continue with your treatment plans. There has been in the last several years a propensity to base your care on what third-party insurance companies will pay for, and there could be no higher injustice to a patient than treating their wallet instead of their health.
There’s an old saying, you can steal someone’s money and they can earn it back, but if you steal someone’s health they can never replace it.
So, when recommending care to patients, tell them the truth, let them decide what’s important at that time to them and not necessarily to you. Lastly, what’s your plan for 2013 to increase your practice a minimum of 25 to 30%? If you’ve not taken a day to sit down and write out what your plan is for the next twelve months I guarantee you that your practice will decrease and your income will fail. Those of you reading this that got into chiropractic because it was a good career move, or good way to earn income I suggest you become quickly reacquainted with the purpose and philosophy of chiropractic because if you’re in it just for the money you will never survive and you will always struggle financially and emotionally. It amazes me to today how many chiropractors practicing have never read any of the green books, have never attended a chiropractic philosophical seminar like DE in Atlanta. The chiropractors who have survived and thrived in the last 100 years have done so by first providing outstanding results, second by educating their patients as to why they need chiropractic for a lifetime, and third understanding the limits of the care that they provide and the extent to which a chiropractic adjustment, performed correctly can change people’s lives.
Till next time,