Q: I've been reading your book Connecting The Dots and have been really enjoying it. One of the practice challenges that I am quite interested in are pre-paid plans. It appears from your writings that there are some aspects of pre-paid plans that you support and others that you are against. I began a coaching relationship recently and the coach does encourage pre-paid plans of varying degrees of commitment. My question is: How does a chiropractor offer pre-paid packages to patients/practice members to commit to care while continuing to honor the patient?
Confused in Minnesota
A: Dear Confused in Minnesota,
You are correct. Prepaid plans make perfect sense for patients who "get" that optimally, chiropractic care is beneficial as a long-term lifestyle adjunct. However, far too many annual care plans are used to seduce patients into making a long-term commitment before they have any evidence that chiropractic can even help them with their presenting complaint!
I'm totally on board with encouraging patients to embrace chiropractic as a lifestyle decision. However, to use financial policy as a way of achieving it, and to insist on it up front, is a lot like talking about marriage and children on a first date! It's manipulative and off-putting to patients.
That said, if I were in practice I would offer pre-paid plans. However, patients wouldn't be eligible for them until after symptomatic relief. Granted, that would probably result in fewer people on a pre-paid plan. But at least they would embracing it for the right reason, with little interest in the fine print that accompanies such agreements with the "gotcha" of higher prices should they discontinue care prematurely.
I know that annual care plans are "sold" to chiropractors as a way of helping patients get the care they need, but it may not be the care they want. And that's the problem with trusting patients. Sometimes they make what you and I might characterize as the "wrong" choice. Love them anyway.