Mobile practitioner creates Calgary niche market
It’s a beautiful spring day in Calgary. I’ve got the top down, and the local traffic report is playing on the radio. I’m taking calls with one hand and sipping a Starbucks Café Americano with the other. It sounds like any other typical morning for someone heading to the office, except my office changes every hour, every day. I’m a mobile chiropractor.
After I graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) in the spring of 2000, my wife and I moved to Calgary to launch what we hoped would be an exciting life.
Armed with tons of ambition and a substantial student debt, the reality of starting a new practice set in. How could I optimize my time and skills, yet minimize the significant cost to set up and run such a business? I began to investigate possibilities beyond the traditional chiropractic office model. My research revealed an unparalleled opportunity to provide patients with easily accessible chiropractic care in a unique setting: their home or office.
Forward-thinking decision makers in the business world had begun embracing the trend toward supportive on-site health management. This corporate change in attitude regarding enhanced health care for employees, which would ultimately improve work performance and reduce downtime, fostered my decision to create the Mobile Chiropractic On-Site Employee Health Management and Treatment Program. Not only specializing in the promotion of good health and the prevention of illness and injury specific to the workplace, it is an effective and proactive on-site treatment program.
Building a chiropractic practice of this type is certainly a unique endeavour. Since I am able to effectively manage all aspects myself, I don’t require any support staff. Administrative duties are handled from my home office. My equipment includes a structurally modified portable chiropractic table, which I bring to appointments along with a diagnostic kit. All notes are recorded in my personal digital assistant (PDA) in which follow-up visits are booked, and this information is later transferred to hard copy for the file. My philosophy is: “Keep it simple.”
In the early stages, as my practice developed and experienced growing pains, I frequently modified and streamlined procedures to become more efficient and profitable. Even though advertising was minimal, in the form of some information brochures to companies, my practice grew steadily merely by word of mouth. Now, most patients are seen biweekly or every four weeks – except for new or acute patients – on the same day of the week at the same time. This permits the maintenance of a consistent driving route.
Treatment performed in the office or home setting opens the door to directly promote my services to co-workers or other family members.
The success of this mode of practice is twofold. First, by bringing the chiropractor to the patient, both time- and travel-related obstacles that may decrease treatment attendance are eliminated. Secondly, and most important, is the resulting personalized chiropractic care and enhanced patient-doctor relationship. Not being bound by typical office time constraints can offer the luxury of longer appointments, and patients don’t mind paying a premium for this service. My practice achieves high patient retention and referrals. Best of all, I effectively contribute to the health of many wonderful people who have made me part of their “family.”
This type of practice certainly has its advantages. My work environment is laid-back and low stress, and work hours can be varied to suit my needs. Down time is my time. I am not confined to an office. There are no staff or lease issues with which to contend. There are significant tax benefits. My days are spent outdoors. I have received more cookies and bottles of homemade wine than could ever be consumed.
As an animal lover, I regularly come into contact with every sort of dog, cat and bird imaginable, and have never left a home visit without a clump of some sort of fur stuck to my pants. Luckily, only one small dog bite in seven years.
This is not the type of practice that would appeal to everyone. It can be physically demanding, involves a fair amount of driving, and can push the doctor out of his or her “comfort zone.” Being mobile is also not conducive to any type of practice requiring additional equipment or equipment-dependent techniques. My day often ends later than most people’s, and let’s face it … I’m the only one at my Christmas party.
Well, it looks like I have to put the top up. Calgary weather is so unpredictable. Only another few cats – I mean, patients – left to see today.•
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