Dynamic Chiropractic – January 29, 2012, Vol. 30, Issue 03

From a Different Playbook

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

"Despite what the public might think, just because you're a doctor, you're not immune to higher prices, flat or lower incomes, and the general sense of uncertainty that comes with a struggling economy."

Just to be clear, the above is not the beginning of my article. On the contrary, it is the beginning of "Seven Ways to Boost Your Income with Medical Activities," an article written for medical doctors that was posted in early December 2011 on Medscape.com. There are a few things that make this article interesting:

  • The medical community is openly admitting that some of its doctors are not doing well financially.
  • The article is comfortable suggesting ways for MDs to increase their income (something that was considered taboo not too long ago).
  • Some of the "seven ways" are actually applicable to increasing income in your chiropractic practice.

The first way to increase income for MDs (and DCs) is to "offer new services based on a fresh strategy." As the article points out, "in these tough economic times, it makes sense to do everything you can to welcome patients into your practice, providing not only basic care, but things they might go elsewhere for."

First on the list of new services is "nutritional counseling" (this from a profession that for decades scorned nutritional supplements as a waste of money). While the rest of the list is largely medical, one can't help but appreciate their process for implementing new services:

"Determining new services to offer may require an innovative way of thinking about your view of your practice. A strategy session could be helpful. Enlist your staff for brainstorming; find out what patients have been asking about; look at patient records to see which service you've been doing the most referrals for; think about services that may have a steady flow of patients."

According to the Medscape article, "depending on the services you choose to offer, and how often you provide them, you can increase your income by 10 percent, 15 percent, or even more."

The third and fourth ways to "boost your income" involve working with senior patients. For MDs, this would include doing rounds at nursing homes and even becoming a nursing-home medical director.

For the doctor of chiropractic, the point is just as valid: serve the growing senior population in greater ways. As someone approaching 60 years of age, I can tell you I value my health and fitness to a much greater degree than I did in years past. I am much more consistent in taking my vitamins, working out, seeing my chiropractor and eating correctly. But most people my age (and older) have limited knowledge about the correct way to health and wellness, not to mention the wrong philosophy.

The good news is that most of my generation is willing to listen to new ways. As you may remember, ours was the first generation to question the establishment in an effort to find a better way. And while we've gotten older, the thirst for a better life remains alive in us. Most of us are aware of the dangers of drugs and want to avoid surgery at all costs. We just need someone like you to show us the way to wellness.

The remaining four ways for MDs to boost their income reveal the rotting medical soul: #2: join forces with pharmaceutical companies; #5: team up with attorneys; #6: consult for Wall Street; #7: become a media darling. Interestingly enough, the recommendation regarding joining forces with pharmaceutical companies comes with a bit of a disclaimer:

"These arrangements are coming under increasing scrutiny from hospitals, legislators, regulators, and the media. In fact, some of the doctors whom we contacted for this article declined to talk about their involvement with drug companies. Chief among the charges is that generous payments to MDs and DOs are further inflating the costs of healthcare. Moreover, doctors have been accused of not informing their patients of their ties to the very products that they may be prescribing or using in surgical procedures."

It's amazing to me to read the above and still see "join forces with pharmaceutical companies" as the number-two recommendation for increasing income in a medical practice. Talk about selling out...

So, looking at the MD playbook on how to "boost your income," we find that for chiropractors, offering new services (and products), along with serving the growing senior population, hold great potential to offset declining income and potentially even increase your income above what is has been in the past. Increasing your income should not be the primary focus of your practice, but it is certainly OK to begin 2012 by developing and executing deliberate strategies to make this year the most profitable ever.

Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/wrblog/. You can also visit me on Facebook.

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


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