It’s challenging to take a step back and understand where we, as a profession, may need assistance, where we excel and how we can grow unless we take the time to ask. But, that’s just what I did. Recently, I created an anonymous survey to break down what chiropractors and their patients are looking for.
I would like to present some of the results of this research as well as some statistics gathered by other groups. I’m hoping this inspires change in our chiropractic business practices. Through the survey results, you will find ways to attract new patients from the large population of Canadians who have never visited a chiropractor. As chiropractors, we should strongly focus on redefining and re-evaluating ourselves. If you want to stay on top, you need to evolve, grow, adapt and change.
Research shows that the field of chiropractic is oversaturated and the percentage of chiropractors leaving the profession after a period of 10 years is significantly higher than in any other medical profession. I will show you the available potential your chiropractic business has and simple ways to make your practice more productive in this competitive field under a slowing economy.
CHIROPRACTIC STUDENT GROWTH
Approximately 200 students graduate with a doctorate in chiropractic from Canadian schools annually. Roughly 170 are from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) and roughly 30 are from the University of Quebec at Trois-Riviéres (UQTR). The demand for chiropractic care continues to increase and the number of graduates will multiply sharply over the coming years. This is positive for our profession, but it also shows how competitive our market is as it grows. Being unique and going above and beyond what we learn in school is crucial.
THE 10-YEAR ITCH
According to an August 2010 study of California chiropractors, 27 per cent are leaving practice within 10 years of graduation. The authors believe that an oversupply of chiropractors and decreased income are two of the many factors that contribute to the departure.
Closer to home, a study of Canadian chiropractors in Ontario shows that, in addition to a substantial increase in the number of chiropractors, there was a dramatic drop in income. Research discovered a 50 per cent decline from $97,892 annually in 1992-93 to only $48,900 in 2002-03.
DID YOU KNOW?
Research shows that only 15 per cent of our Canadian population visits a chiropractor. This means 85 per cent of Canadians, or roughly 26 million people, have never seen us. The majority are people over the age of 40 and have, or will have, some sort of musculoskeletal problem. This group has the most disposable income. Why are we not seeing them?
IT’S SURVEY TIME!
I sent out an anonymous survey to 130 non-chiropractic patients from Canada and the United States. As a chiropractor, I am committed to evolving and growing and I want to know what patients want. Aside from the obvious questions surrounding gender and age, I touched on the root of some of the issues that we face every day. Here’s what I found.
The biggest reason people do not go to chiropractors is fear. Out of those surveyed, 64 per cent confirmed they were scared to see a chiropractor; 16 per cent said they have an issue with “cracking,” or adjustments, and the remainder were swayed by the negative perception of chiropractic.
A few perceptions based on comments from participants that stood out were the following: there is fear the treatment will do more damage; they don’t believe it will work; they don’t view a chiropractor as a professional; they say a chiropractor is not a real doctor; there is a concern that chiropractors use procedures that can cause more harm than good if not used correctly; patients don’t understand the treatment options available and do not understand what chiropractors can do for them.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
When non-chiropractic patients were asked what, for them, was the single most important factor in choosing one health professional over another, 70 per cent replied, “Reputation for attaining excellent results.” Less than three per cent said that location played a factor and eight per cent stated that price was a deterrent.
EGO VERSUS SUCCESS
In tough economic times, there is only one way to make yourself recession-proof and it’s simple: learn to achieve consistent outstanding clinical results. Not only is this obviously good for your patients, and the reason you went into chiropractic (right?), but also this will keep people coming back for more whenever they need you again. Furthermore, they will tell all of their friends, family and co-workers about the great work you did for them!
So why isn’t everyone taking this advice?
In order to achieve these goals you need to do more than others are willing to do. Not just one month out of the year, but every day, you need to go beyond what you think you already know and learn something new – this will assure you keep growing and developing and will translate into great results for your patients. I challenge you to learn something new every single day. Never let ego get in the way of your development as a health professional.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
One of the single most powerful things we can do for our practice is communicate what it is we do in our business name. Here is a question that I included in the survey, to try to learn what, in your business name, tells people what you do. I have included, in parentheses, the percentage of respondents who found the name informative:
From this list, which office name do you most associate with having a chiropractor who works there:
- XYZ Wellness Centre (1.5 per cent)
- LA Performance Centre (6.2 per cent)
- Healing Touch Centre (21.5 per cent)
- None of the above (I don’t think chiropractor when I look at any of the titles) (70.8 per cent)
The results are clear. Whether we like to admit it or not, the people most likely to be looking for your services have back pain and most of them will be looking for a place with the name chiropractic, spine or back in the title.
BACK IN BUSINESS
I want to encourage chiropractors who might be feeling like giving up because they’re paddling upstream to reconsider – don’t leave what you have invested so much time in! This is what you were meant to do and will be successful in. Here are two key points, which will ensure you continue to stay on track in a career choice that is the right choice and a rewarding one.
1. Find a mentor
It is so important to find someone you look up to in the profession. This should be someone who takes pride in their care of patients and who works diligently to improve their skills on a continual basis. This shines in the work they do on their patients and is evident in the excellent results that they achieve. Make it your goal to find a mentor to improve your clinical skills.
2. Take continuing education workshops, seminars or courses
It is important that you take workshops, courses and/or seminars not only to satisfy your licence requirements but also because it is vital to the development of your skill set. Improving your manual skills should be as high a priority as anything else in your practice.
Remember, every chiropractor graduates from a recognized school. But, that is only the beginning. In general, we’ve all taken the same courses. To succeed, you need to do more – to be different, you must do the things others are not prepared to do. You’ve made it this far, so keep it going and stay motivated.
Dr. Anthony Lombardi is a private consultant to athletes in the NFL, CFL and NHL, and founder of Hamilton Back Clinic, a multidisciplinary clinic. He teaches his fundamental EXSTORE Assessment System and practice building workshops to various health professionals. For more information, visit www.exstore.ca .
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