Keys To Your Practice: Be different
Embracing our uniqueness can lead to a busier practice
By Angelo Santin
I believe there is value in creating connections with other health-care disciplines when it comes to patient care. However, with the way things are going in many chiropractic corners, integration into main stream health care will soon mean assimilation. This can be dangerous for the profession and to chiropractors. We can all agree that the health-care system is failing; that we can’t afford the model that is being delivered. The question I pose to the profession is: why would we want to be a part of this sinking health-care ship?
Outside in vs. inside out
Right now, our disease-care system is set up to make people believe that health comes from outside sources. For example, taking a pill or the new magic herb will make them healthy. Chiropractors know, however, that healing comes from the inside out. In most instances, if patients keep their nervous system free of interference, eat well, keep stress levels under control, and move their bodies, they will experience optimal health. Embrace this and share it with patients. It empowers them and it will more often lead them to choose to stay under chiropractic care for life.
Doctor-focused vs. patient-focused
Typically, in our health system, the focus is on the doctor. Whether it’s the fault of the system or people in general, there has been a movement of making it the doctor’s responsibility to care for the patient. This leads to the practitioner taking credit when people get better. We know in chiropractic that this is not true. The responsibility is clearly on the patient – not us. It’s their job to keep their appointments, exercise, eat well and avoid stress. If patients take on this challenge and get better, it is they who should get the credit, not us. When communicating with your patients, be very clear that it is their body’s ability to heal and their commitment to chiropractic that gets them better and not your wonderful adjustments. This gives the patient a sense of accomplishment and control over their health. It is your duty to make them aware of this principle and celebrate it with them. Make it about them and not you. After all, it is their body doing all the work.
High risks vs. low risks
For some reason, the public views chiropractic as risky. We, as a profession, have to take responsibility for this inaccurate misconception. When you really look at the interventions medicine utilizes, including drugs and surgery, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Worse yet, not only are the interventions risky, they are also ineffective. Knowing this information, we as a profession have still given ourselves a complex when it comes to the safety of the adjustment. Our interventions are safe. This is proven both over time and in the literature. Therefore, a quality comparison of different interventions – both medical and chiropractic – including risks and benefits may be something you want to point out to inquisitive patients or hesitant community members thinking about starting care. Give the information and let them make up their own minds.
Education vs. inspiration
Our health-care system typically tends to focus on educating the public regarding various health matters. At times, this can be overwhelming. There is a ton of information available to us via the Internet and television regarding certain health matters, and yet, we continue to get sicker as a society. People don’t take action on information alone, they need to be inspired in order to make changes. This should fit right in with the chiropractic paradigm. We have the unique gift of really connecting with our patients which can lead to the opportunity of inspiring them to make health changes. We can do this by getting to know what each patient values and by asking questions that challenge the way people view their health. This is a real talent that I believe makes us completely unique from any other form of health care. Bill Esteb said it best when referring to this point when he said, “We are in the belief-changing business, not the spine-changing business.”
What is the potential here for our practices? The clearer we are on what we can offer and how it is unique, the easier it is for patients to understand their choice of being a lifelong chiropractic patient.
In addition, when we are able to inspire change, challenge beliefs, give the responsibility and credit to the patient for their healing, it will lead to a sense of control and ownership in regards to their health. This ultimately will motivate them to stay under our care longer and refer others who share the same principles.
In order to foster this change in them, you must first change your methods and your mindset. After all, when it comes to health and building a practice you need to work from the inside out.
DR. Angelo Santin, DC, operates a busy subluxation-based family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Dr. Santin is also a Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-344-4606.