"You're Marines now. You adapt. You overcome. You improvise. Let's move." -- Sergeant Thomas Highway, as played by Clint Eastwood in the 1986 movie "Heartbreak Ridge"
Now that you're starting to settle into 2011, it's time to take a serious look at the chiropractic profession in general and your practice specifically.
As I drove to work today, I saw a bank building with a new sign on it. I knew it was a bank building because of the unique design once used by a regional banking chain to make its buildings stand out. The bank chain was very proud of the expensive mosaic it displayed on the side of each of its buildings. Today, that building is occupied by a sporting goods store; an undeniable sign of the times.
Banking is not the only industry to be hit hard by change, particularly in the past several years. Those who are old enough to remember will recall how travel agents were once the only way to purchase an airline ticket. Now, they have all but disappeared with the advent of travel Web portals. The same is true for thousands of "typesetters" who found they weren't required once graphics software was developed. These industries were severely cut down in numbers within just a few years.
Chiropractic is generally faced with changes that are more erosive; changes take place over time, often without any day-to-day or even month-to-month awareness on our part. We see our reimbursement fees reduced, scope narrowed and ability to earn a living compromised. And while the constant erosion can be devastating, it all seems to happen in a lot of little ways, rather than with a big shift in technology.
If Sergeant Tom Highway (aka Clint Eastwood) were a practice management consultant, he would probably tell you that each and every year, you and your practice have to adapt to the changes in the health care arena, reimbursement rules and the general economy. While these changes may be small some years, they are part of a general trend that needs to be recognized. It is rare that the world changes for you; instead, you need to change to accommodate the changing world.
He would go on to say that you need to improvise; think outside of the box. He would encourage you to look at various opportunities to better serve your patients while increasing your practice income. He would tell you to stop practicing like you have always practiced just because that's the way you've always done it, no matter how difficult it might seem.
Finally, Sergeant Highway would let you know that if you did these things consistently in your practice, you would overcome the challenges and be more successful. You would know by the tone of his voice that he had faith in you and in chiropractic.
While this may all sound like a pep talk (minus the scratchy voice and coarse language), it is something we have to be ever-mindful of in this day and age. Our world continues to spin faster, and how we all did business five years ago should have changed significantly by now. If it hasn't for you, then you may have become stagnant.
The year 2011 could be your best year in practice. But it depends. Some might say it depends on the economy. Others might say it depends on health care reform. Still others might point to efforts to expand or contain the growth of our profession.
Oddly enough, I talk with (and e-mail with) DCs who are having some of their best years, regardless of all these things. Their economic environment just doesn't seem to be a factor. My belief is that much of your success this year depends on you and the decisions you make. Continuing to do the same thing year after year is unlikely to yield different results.
Take a weekend away from your practice to dream about what it could be. Then get out your computer (or a notepad) and figure out how you are going to make that dream come true. As we do this as individuals DCs, it will help us expand not only our practices, but also the chiropractic profession as a whole. We will see more patients and impact the reputation of chiropractic.
We have millions of potential patients to serve. "Let's move."
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.