We have all experienced a multitude of changes to the chiropractic industry. Such controversial topics include but are not limited to the amount of integrated practices, insurance premiums and affordable health care. There are many more trends coming that chiropractors should be aware about and it is best to get updates on some of the many changes DCs need to be prepared for.
1. Reputation management. A 2013 survey by software resource site Software Advice indicates 62 per cent of patients turn to online reviews to find a new doctor. Some of these review sites include, Healthgrades Yelp, Vitals, ZocDoc and WebMD. Chiropractors should pay attention to these review sites, and be more attentive about what people are saying about them. By being vigilant online, chiropractors can protect their reputations because they can monitor both positive and negative comments.
2. Cyber security. Many chiropractors’ practices have very limited knowledge and are frankly too small to consider cyber security – but they must. The 2012 Data Breach Investigations Study by Verizon shows that in 855 data breaches they examined, 71 per cent occurred in businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Measuring security enables privacy of patient records and patient billing (credit cards), among other vital information. Similar to the manner in which many large corporations have become immersed in scrutiny, it would be prudent for chiropractors practices to do the same.
3. Marketing. There are simply too many chiropractors that are either too busy, procrastinate too much or shy away from marketing. With increased competition from the myriad of universities, however, chiropractors are forced to operate their practices differently from previous years. The crazy 80s are over and those that remain acute to marketing will survive.
4. Websites. Chiropractors in 2015 need to think in terms of the patient. In conducting research for this article, I found 1.67 billion searches in Google just that day. Statistically, the printed yellow pages and other traditional forms of advertising in the chiropractors’ community are decreasing by over 15 per cent year to year. That said, websites will become a necessity for chiropractors and their practices to make it easier for patients to find them. While it is true that many insurance companies refer prospective patients to chiropractors, the fact remains that 98 per cent of patients will conduct their own research – as such they want control to discover who can assist them.
5. Social media. As of January 2014, 74 per cent of online adults use social networking sites, which enable communities of individuals to speak about positive and negative practices. Understand that not every form of social media is useful, but chiropractors and staff that engage in social media will create pockets of communities. Social media platforms, such as Twitter or even Facebook, also enable staff to communicate messages to patients such as “The doctor is running late”, “There is inclement weather”, etc. Those that engage in social media create better alliances with patients because of the flow of communication wherever, whenever and however patients request it.
6. Review your expenses. With the price of gas, utilities and other commodities continually increasing, chiropractors will need to be more acute to expenses and understand what their costs are. Do you know many currently operate a bankrupt practice because they bring in less than their current expenditures?
7. Electronic medical records. Many chiropractors still operate with travel cards. While many do not believe this to be an issue – it is. The issue is that many chiropractors use the “around to it approach.” In other words, they will update the patient files when they get “around to it.” In today’s increasing auditing and insurance issues, every doctor needs to ensure that every patient file is thoroughly updated, otherwise they risk penalty, lawsuits and heaven knows what else.
8. The new and the brave. Fact is chiropractic practice is changing and those that only provide limited services (adjustment, massage therapy, etc.) will ultimately close. With an aging population, an obese population and a demographic that cannot afford prescription medication, chiropractic can be a new lease on life. However, chiropractors must jump on the wellness bandwagon, otherwise they will be suffering for years to come.
9. Can you spare a dime? The avaricious banks are not loaning money to many, and as such, it is very difficult for veteran chiropractors to expand into new facilities, while it is even harder on those staring out. Crowdfunding – the practice of funding a venture by seeking contributions from a large number of people, typically through the Internet – and angel investing can be your best options.
10. Hang in there. In the last several months I have been approached by many chiropractors to help sell their practice. For the next 18 months the market will continue to linger due to high prices and low funding. Consider finding either new sources of funding or new entities – such as medical – to take over the building or the lease.
11. Education. The education at seminar companies and colleges continues to only provide clinical information. Doctors operate a practice and they need to invest their own time and their own money on how to operate their practice better. When you visit a seminar company or college you are operating on their modus operandi. When you invest the time and money on you, you invest in your future.
Drew Stevens, PhD, is a practice management expert with over 31 years of experience. A six-time author (Practice Acceleration) and frequent presenter, Stevens works with struggling doctors to exponentially grow revenue and provide more discretionary time. He can be reached at www.drewschiropracticmarketing.com or 877-391-6821.
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