My parents had enough of a memory of the Great Depression to raise my brother and me to avoid any kind of waste. While we didn’t reuse aluminum foil, we were constantly urged to turn off lights, eat all the food on our plates and take care of things so they’d last. I’m reminded of this frugal approach as I see a growing number of chiropractors who think they can achieve prosperity by cutting costs. If you feel compelled to cut back, here are some suggestions:
Shampoo the carpet, rather than getting new
Cancel unneeded magazine subscriptions
Abandon your yellow page ad
Reduce the number of seminars you attend
Eliminate all negative thoughts—and people
“But Bill, that won’t save me enough money to make a difference.” That’s correct, so cut out these too:
Cancel the cable/satellite television
Bring your lunch and stopping eating dinner out
Let your country club membership lapse
Sell the luxury automobile
Just be sure that you don’t cut back in these critical areas:
Patient education materials
Report of findings packaging
Association membership dues
Staff training and motivation
Simply put, this is the time to bolster your patient communications and eliminate any drag on your primary task of telling the chiropractic story. As third party reimbursement decreases, patient understanding is more crucial than ever. Frankly, you didn’t have to be that effective when deep-pocketed insurance companies were picking up the tab.
Times are changing. Procedures and explanations that worked just three or four years ago no longer produce docile patients ready to do your bidding. And if patients seem untamable, insurance companies and HMOs are even worse. So, instead of being stingy handing out your brochures or reluctant to present your report with contemporary packaging, now’s the time to be even more assertive about the materials and messages that leave your office. If fear or uncertainty have you frozen in your tracks, you’re about to be run over by the future.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
1. The best days are ahead of us. What you may fail to grasp is that simultaneously with the erosion of reimbursement, is the public’s growing discontent with the perfunctory examination and knee-jerk prescribing of drugs. Sure, there are people for whom how their medical bill is paid is more important than what’s done, but don’t overlook the growing number of people who truly want something other than drugs and surgery. The demand for organically grown meat and vegetables is skyrocketing. Take a stand for health, ease and well-being rather than relief of headaches and back pain.
2. Patients are buying hope and certainty. If you find yourself questioning your career choice, STOP! Don’t allow doubt or fear to cloud your judgment. If you find yourself commiserating about your circumstances (while having the best career on the planet), find a colleague who is fired up, rock’n and roll’n and catch the burn. Now, more than ever, you must be an anchor of hope and confidence for patients—who are far more disoriented than you.
3. You’ll want to reinvent yourself. Doing more of what used to work won’t work. If you got soft when everyone had good coverage, you’ll want to rethink your procedures and revamp your patient communications. Find out what each patient values more than their health and link chiropractic care to it (golf, stamina, weight loss, sleep, sense of ease, etc.). You’ll want to make chiropractic about the patient, not their policy, your procedure or how you used to do it.
4. The signal you need to serve somebody. You’ll want to constantly monitor your internal environment so you’re more mindful of those occasions when you get distracted, worry or find yourself throwing a private pity party. This is a sign you’re not serving others and you’re focusing on lack (attracting it into your life). If there’s no one showing up to be served, serve your staff, your family or your community through public service. Serve somebody! Get your attention off yourself and onto someone else.
5. Show up as an unapologetic leader. Accept, embrace and celebrate your unique service to humanity. Hold your head high. What you do is natural, incredibly safe, has zero side effects, is more affordable than medicine and honors the individuality of each patient. Assuming the role of a second-class citizen or being envious of the cultural authority of medical doctors is unbecoming. Stand tall and be proud that you’re not part of the profession that has become a leading cause of death.
Sure, turn out the lights in unused rooms and clean up your plate. But more importantly, cut out the purchases that you used to reward yourself because doctors “deserve” them. Eliminate the expenses designed to give you a psychological boost or were purchased when you enjoyed generous reimbursement. Get back to basics.
It’s about to get better. I’m certain of it. Why? Because the traditional symptom-treating mentality that suppresses rather than releases, that numbs rather than awakens and attempts to go around rather than through is unsustainable. Not only is it based on the lie that we’re merely mechanisms, it condones a lack of self-responsibility and will bankrupt our nation long before it can produce on the promise of creating true health. We’ve come too far to give up now!