By Joseph Flesia, D.C.
chiropractors may ponder why bother to educate patients, but it is well known
that a better-educated patient make better decisions about appropriate health
we think about patient education, my mind immediately asks the following
1. What do you educate
2. Is there a segment
of the population that would respond the best?
3. What outcome do
you want from your patient education efforts?
4. What would be the
optimum patient educational tool?
The Right Message
There are thousands
of different types of practices with their own identity and message, but chiropractors
don't hire the best video production house to create their own educational
In the area of repositioning
in the marketing arena, if you want more of the market share, you must determine
the unique clinical factor your profession offers. This means highlighting
the service you offer that no one else does.
If you offer a service
in health care that is not your specialty, only promote it within your office.
Your overall marketing should promote your unique clinical factor and not
all the services you offer patients.
The chiropractic profession's
unique clinical factor is the vertebral subluxation complex, but in today's
changing world of health care, another unique factor that has developed is
The Baby Boomer Generation
There is a generation
of people in today's society that control the purchasing power and the success
or failure of any product, service or idea -the baby boomers. They are 76
million strong between the ages of 36 and 54, and they are the first group
of people that make up the demographic group known as the "wellness generation."
This group focuses
on wellness over disease and prevention over treatment. Baby Boomers are already
committed to lifetime wellness health care, so they demand that if you represent
a health-care service and you want their lifetime participation with their
family, you must fulfill three prerequisites.
First, you must have
a unique clinical factor that they do not already utilize from their health-care
providers. The "boomers" are committed to the health team idea, rather than
one doctor controlling their health-care decisions.
Second, they demand,
by their actions over the years, that your new unique clinical factor must
have a significant impact on their whole body health. Certainly the
elimination of the vertebral subluxation complex improves health on every
level. In recent years, there are an increasing number of chiropractors who
offer their patients wellness consciousness concerning the long-term elimination/control
Based on the clinical
observation that the spine is permanently damaged from each uncorrected episode
of the VSC, they must have lifetime chiropractic care to prevent the damage
from becoming worse, or slow it down and correct new episodes.
Third, baby boomers
need to know that your unique factor has some basic foundation in science.
Certainly, as other groups in our society, the baby boomers will do anything
once or twice for their health, diseases or pain. However, if you want their
lifetime participation, your clinical profile must have a substantial scientific
base. Knowing that medical practice is about 15 percent scientific; chiropractic
and the VSC must be measured on the same scale. With this in mind, a VSC stands
out significantly as a scientifically based concept.
Promote Vitalism To The Public
Finally, they demand
that any new member of their health-care team have the same philosophy as
their vitalistic beliefs. Medicine removed vitalism 100 years ago, and science
eliminated it about 200 years ago. This accounts for the allopathic belief
that any health-care service that embraces vitalistism is considered quackery.
Medical doctors have even sought ways to eliminate these professions from
the legally and scientifically accepted scene.
In opposition to this,
society is firmly ensconced in the vitalistic belief system. So, rather than
succumb to the medical pressure to give up our vitalistic roots for <I>allopathic
acceptance<I>, many chiropractors loudly speak out that they are vitalistically
based. The philosophical concept of universal and innate intelligence, which
is the underlying reality base of chiropractic, is a vitalistic/metaphysical
belief. Many chiropractors amplify these concepts in their patient education
efforts, because accepting allopathic beliefs will not build large practices.
Chiropractors have made great gains with the baby boomer generation.
Recent surveys by
the Gallup organization indicate that the baby boomers have changed the mindset
of an additional 48 percent of society when it comes to wellness for a lifetime.
This represents 81 percent of society that believes in the health team concept.
At this point, chiropractic and wellness have the greatest chance of societal
This all translates
to a patient education procedure that presents:
1. The chiropractic
clinical unique factor only (doctors do whatever they want in their office,
but they must market VSC and nothing else);
2. Chiropractic care's
significant impact on their health;
3. Chiropractic is
scientifically based; and
4. It is vitalistic.
The overall message
should be that chiropractic care contributes to the improvement in acute conditions,
the improvement of previous subluxation damage on the spine and body and long-term
wellness for all age groups.
Should Patients Learn?
In a typical health-care
office, the doctor would appreciate the patient following through with their
optimum recommendations for care. My experience over the past 23 years of
producing premier patient educational tools is that this approach credentials
the doctor and then whatever the doctor, recommends will have a significantly
higher patient compliance rate.
In some instances,
without the benefit of a premier patient educational program, the doctor has
been persuaded to recommend not optimal care, but rather what the local traffic
will accept. With the appropriate patient education program, this ceases to
be a survival necessity because optimum recommendations become a compliance
Optimum Patient Education System
A perfect patient
education system would focus on wellness and encourage patients to bring in
their children and grandchildren as well as their parents; it would be high-tech,
visible, fun and filled with all the educational factors they demand. I would
recommend, at the very least, that the system have a touch-screen computer
so the patient has control over the educational process.
The program should
voice as the main speaker in the system;
It should offer
an introduction to the office and the background of the doctor;
entertaining review of chiropractic;
new patient consultation with automated case history with an automatic printout
at the end of the case history; and
new patient lecture that hits all the necessary topics, done with class and
at a level that anyone can understand.
The system should
also incorporate a pre-report of findings presentation, and be able to input
examination findings, from which the chiropractor can automatically generate
a colorful and effective initial report of findings, as well as a comparative
progressive examination report of findings.
This kind of patient
educational vehicle will definitely increase respect for the chiropractor
and his recommendations for care. It will keep the chiropractor's office in
tune with the times and society's desires in health care, and the system would
help the practitioner be more successful than ever with acute patients, insurance
patients and wellness patients.
About the author: Joseph
Flesia, D.C. is a noted researcher and practioner who serves as president
of the Chiropractic Basic Science Research Foundation and Renaissance International,
a company which offers patient education products and services. For more information,
write to Renaissance International, 3933 Hub Circle, Colorado Springs, CO,
80909; call (719) 591.1801; or fax (719) 591.1804.