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Is the Sky Falling?

Are you in the fog?Seems a week doesn’t pass that I’m not sent an email claiming the end of chiropractic. These epistles often use the eroding reimbursement from insurance companies as evidence that chiropractic is about to go the way of 8-track tapes and polyester leisure suits.

It’s true that swaggering chiropractic is almost gone. As is gold chain chiropractic and luxury automobile chiropractic. And sloppy chiropractic. And mindless three-times-a-week-until-your-carrier-balks chiropractic. And most-insurance-accepted chiropractic. History. Kaput.

Thank goodness.

As the profession contracts, there will be chiropractors unable to sustain a viable business without the price supports and “subsidies” offered by insurance companies. So while individual chiropractors will leave to pursue other livelihoods, the profession of chiropractic is about to experience a renaissance never seen before.

The question is, is chiropractic important enough, significant enough and precious enough to prompt patients to pay for it out of their own pockets?

Are annoying headaches worthy of writing you a check from an already overdrawn checking account?

Is distracting low back pain significant enough to prioritize the unbudgeted expense of seeing you?

If your practice has been largely about proper coding and note taking to get reimbursed for the treatment of neuromuscular-skeletal complaints, if you see few families, if cash-paying once-a-monthers are even scarcer and you’re basically practicing physical medicine, then you may have reason for concern. Combine that with the lobbying tactics of physical therapists in various jurisdictions to get spinal manipulation included in their scope of practice and you may understandably feel like a cornered animal. Is that what doomsayers are basing their “the-sky-is-falling” rhetoric on?

Think back to why you became a chiropractor. Why did you choose a profession that is (still) misunderstood by the public, given the cold shoulder by the reigning medical authorities and only begrudgingly reimbursed by insurance carriers? When you chose chiropractic and endured the obstacle course of your education and licensure, you had to have known that you signed up for the “path of most resistance.” I’m sure at least a few of your relatives gave you the “You-gotta-be-kidding!?!” look. The more polite ones simply asked, “Are you sure?” And the people who really motivated you were the ones who asked, “Why don’t you become a real doctor?”

But let’s get one thing straight. I’m even less fond of the changes the chiropractic profession is going through than you. I run two businesses that provide support products and services to chiropractors. When chiropractors sneeze, I catch a cold. In many ways, we share a common fate—we’re in this together. And since we’re quickly approaching crunch time for many chiropractors (and have passed it for others), we don’t have a lot of time. So, let me be uncharacteristically blunt:

Reclaim your purpose. Start here. Ask yourself, “Why did I become a chiropractor?” If you can’t come up with anything more compelling than “It seemed like an easy way to make a living,” or “I wanted to be a doctor,” or worse, “I don’t know,” then pack your bags and see if you can convince a recent graduate to take over the reins. The future isn’t going to be sissy-friendly. You have to want it. Bad.

Lose the pride. Pride comes before the fall, remember? Take the initiative and call up your so-called “competitor” across town. Not to commiserate. But to acknowledge the situation and bolster and strengthen one another. The petty philosophical and practice style differences that divide you are a luxury from the past. If we don’t hang together, we will most certainly hang separately.

Turn off the media. I’ve mentioned this before, but now I’m not kidding. Your mind is your most valuable resource. You can no longer afford to allow in a single negative thought, picture, word or idea. If you’re serious about serving as a chiropractor, and I hope you are, you must turn off the boob tube, stop listening to the radio and shun the newspaper. They contain nothing that can fortify you or supply the answers you need. Perform a 40-day media fast. You can always go back to the empty calories and the pandering to the lowest common denominator advanced by the media later. But for now, disengage. Save yourself.

You’re it. Your practice, for better or worse, is a reflection of you and your beliefs. While it’s tempting to look for something “out there” to blame, it merely wastes valuable time. Confess that you created this mess by surrendering your practice to third parties, neglecting your patient education responsibilities, fearing what others might think and your unwillingness to have difficult conversations or face uncomfortable situations. You must renew your mind. When you do, your practice will have no choice but to dutifully follow.

Be positively positive. You must be the most positive, upbeat, optimistic person everyone in your community encounters. And you have every reason to be: you know the truth. Truth produces freedom. Health is our most valuable possession. Health doesn’t come in a bottle or from outside in. Ever. Your community has been deceived by the expediency of drug solutions and the mass hypnosis of symptom treating. Be the child who broke the spell by shouting, “Hey the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!” Now is the time to be courageous.

Think big. In the Golden Era of chiropractic before “insurance equality,” chiropractors recognized the whole-body effects of a subluxated nervous system and rescued people of all ages from the ravages of virtually every named disease on the planet. They were frequently called “miracles” because safe and natural chiropractic care produced results when traditional methods failed. This market didn’t go away, but it has been neglected. Within a five mile radius of where you’re sitting there are enough people suffering from health maladies you could help, and for whom money is no object, to fill your practice to overflowing. But only if your idea of what chiropractic is larger than a noninvasive therapy for back pain. Consider the Palmer’s, Gonsteads, Thompson’s, Logan’s and the other namesakes of this profession. While their techniques addressed the spine, it was hardly the limit of their vision.

Yes, chiropractic is about to enjoy a rebirth that may be difficult to imagine from your vantage point today. Because it must. The principles of chiropractic have stood the test of time and are deeply rooted in the truth. Don’t be discouraged by this temporary “slipping and checking.” It’s merely a long overdue adjustment from having been seduced by the money and the intoxicating fumes of acceptance that seemed to be coming from the allopathic medical-industrial complex.

As sufficient numbers of chiropractors wake up to the fact that they are part of a revolution; rebels who recognize that drugs and surgery may save lives—but have little to do with health, we will see a profound shift.

It turns out the sky is not falling. The fog is merely lifting.

Comments (3)

Brent Beacom:

The sky is most definately not falling. 2008 was a banner year for our office, up 18%over the 2007. And this is being done in Michigan, where everyone knows the economy stinks:) While we are still a little insurance heavy for my tastes(65% ins, 35% cash)we are a viable office if insurance quit tommorrow.

I have been in practice for 8 years, and each year has gotten better. All of this has happened by using the basic principles that Bill teaches. Tell people the chiropractic story, give them their choices with the benefits and consequences of each choice and then let them make their choice. Sure people will leave the office, but more people will stay because I respected their right to make a choice.

Thanks for doing what you do, Bill. It is my hope that more DCs follow your advice in 2009, and become more successful than ever.

Bob Wagner:


I believe what you are describing is bivocationalism, or two jobs and chiroaractic being one of them. To live in society, run a professional office, and pay your bills on time, will require more than the income from this job. Strip away insurance and 95% of chiropractors are in bankruptcy. Most of my friends from chiropractic school have bit the financial bullet after 24 years and have required some sort of bailout financially. Follow the dollars in healthcare and that is where the people go. The 2-3% of people who ocassionally visit our offices will not allow much financial breathing room for this profession to grow and thrive.

We must work harder and smarter but that requires discipline, something rarely witnessed in this profession.

Bob Wagner

Chris Wambeke:

Another important distinction is whether or not we sell people a service or serve people Chiropractic. We spend so much time thinking and talking about magical ROF's, care plans,and prepayment options. If I look at my late mortgage payment and say "I have to sell eight yearly care plans" vs "I want to serve the people put in front of me in a way that best gives them what they need", the words I say, even though the same, with a different intent have a completely different impact. I have to ground myself in this concept daily.

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From December 28, 2008 8:52 AM

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 28, 2008 8:52 AM.

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