Dynamic Chiropractic – March 28, 1990, Vol. 08, Issue 07

Long-Term Growth Vs Hit-and-Run Profit Taking

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

The chiropractic profession has always had one "friend" it could rely on. That friend is the part of the public that has experienced chiropractic care and knows first hand of its value. In recent times, that friendship has been placed in jeopardy.

There are those who wish to come in fast, make big bucks and then move on. They don't think about the future of the chiropractic profession, its reputation, or the patients who will ultimately pay for this greed.

Most of the profession is consciously attempting to rebuke this attitude of avarice in all of its obvious forms. Unfortunately, the "hit-and-run" profit takers are becoming more subtle.

One classic example is promulgated by one of the larger practice management companies. This is not to say that practice management firms are not needed in the chiropractic profession or are not ethical. The current level of utilization of practice consultants by the profession quite readily displays the need. Most doctors report that their consultants are, for the most part, very ethical.

In the notes of this particular "consultant," is a comparison of the "Cash Practice" and the "Liberal Practice." This comparison states that, "The average working man will spend the equivalent of one week's paycheck on his health care." It then goes on to show that the "Cash Practice" will receive only $240 from this patient ($100 for x-rays and exam + $140 for 7 office visits) while the "Liberal Practice (insurance assignment)" can extract $1,000 ($100 for x-ray and exam + $900 for 45 office visits) from the same patient.

The conclusion of the comparison is the statement: "The more liberal your practice is, the larger and faster it will grow."

The interesting point about this particular practice management firm is that while it encourages doctors of chiropractic to rip off the insurance company (and ultimately the patient), it is now being accused of ripping off many of its client chiropractors.

Another perfect example of "hit-and-run" profit taking is in the area of questionable research. Any time a chiropractic college or a reputable research foundation is NOT involved in the research project, the project should be severely scrutinized. The reason is quite simple. Our chiropractic colleges, FCER, the Consortium for Chiropractic Research and a few other non-profit organizations, must live by their research reputations and accomplishments.

They don't have an entrepreneur waiting behind the window dressing to take a large percentage of the money paid in by the unsuspecting members of the profession. They are not in a position to profit by the results of the research. They are strictly non-profit organizations which employ very dedicated individuals, earning very modest salaries.

One "research" company sells a research program to the profession for a mere $2,500. This company even pays chiropractors to solicit other DCs to spend their money to learn how to "recruit survey research volunteers and schedule them at your convenience." This "research" company is a profit making company owned by one chiropractor who thus far has reportedly raked in almost $1 million from the profession. The profession has, in turn, received one questionable research article describing initial results of the "pilot study."

Again, greed profits from greed. Those very few in the profession who would prostitute chiropractic research in order to "greatly increase your patient volume" are themselves handing over the $2,500. Once again, the profession and its reputation pays the bill.

The most disconcerting example of greed cheating the future of the chiropractic profession is performed by too great a number of chiropractors every day. Worst of all, many of them never think twice about it.

You know the story, the patient isn't paying the bill (or at least not all of it), so it is easier to provide care beyond what is called for by the injury. If the request for payment is denied -- well, it was worth a try.

One small problem. The agencies and companies that pay inflated health care bills own very big computers. These computers can compile massive amounts of data in minutes and create very accurate reports.

Then one day, someone, a decision maker, asks a question that will decide whether or not chiropractic will be included and utilized in future health care plans. The question seems harmless enough: How cost effective is chiropractic care, anyway?

The computers blink, the printers fly, and presto -- out comes the answer: Based on the data collected by the agencies and companies most likely to be victims of overutilization or over billing, the answer is-----

Once again, greed causes "hit-and-run" profit taking while the future of the chiropractic profession pays the bill.

Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.


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