Doctors, look around your office, clear out the deadwood and do something different that will change lives and your practice. Decide what type of practice you want and what type of patients you want to serve. Find out as much as you can about that group’s wants and needs; give it to them and watch your practice grow.
We know that chiropractic is the largest alternative healthcare system in the world, but our patients aren’t lining up outside our offices like they do in the medical profession. The chiropractic profession doesn’t get the mass media coverage that the drug companies and medical profession do. The only way to grow a practice is by referrals or by going out and getting new patients through lectures, screenings or other external marketing strategies.
You know that if you do not promote your practice it will not grow. You need a way to get the attention of the public. The questions become, "How do you become unique, get the attention of the public, address the needs in your community and grow the practice? How do you get inline with mass media and create demand for chiropractic in that group of the population you want to serve?"
Most chiropractors will care for anybody who walks through the door. After all, who is turning down new patients these days? But most chiropractors do have a preference for the type of people they treat.
I have a family practice with an emphasis on the over-sixty crowd. I chose this area because I feel seniors need chiropractic care the most and I figured out how to have the above-mentioned mass media work for me and chiropractic.
I realized that, through mass media, everyday one can read or hear about the benefits of exercise in such periodicals as US News and World Report, Time Magazine, News Week, AARP Magazine and just about every TV news program. Research is showing that everything from heart disease, bone density and Alzheimer’s can be helped through exercise. The National Institutes of Health, and many gerontologists and researchers have found exercise is the closest thing to an anti-aging pill that exists. People who are physically fit can measure out to be ten to twenty years younger biologically than their chronological age. The seniors are responding to this information. International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) reports seniors’ willingness to exercise has increased 350 percent over the past twenty years. The problem is that the exercise industry has left out the seniors.
It became obvious to me it was time to put in some type of fitness program into my practice for seniors. Our profession needs to tap into the 46 million (sixty-plus) senior market which is the fastest growing market today, comprising almost 40 percent of the U.S. adult population. Every seven seconds, someone turns sixty. Please know that seniors spend more than $1 trillion per year on goods and services and seniors spend more money on health and personal care than any other age group. The chiropractic profession has an opportunity to tap into the senior market, with mass media and the seniors’ fitness trend on its side.
In my office, I have a senior safe, senior specific, doctor supervised, efficient aerobic and anaerobic thirty-minute circuit training program, which is best for the aging senior population. All exercise is given while the senior is under chiropractic care in my office, to enable their spines to safely receive the full benefits of the exercise program. My care protocol is chiropractic care and exercise; I find and remove subluxations and provide exercise to strengthen and stabilize the spine, along with all of the other health benefits of exercise.
I decided that the exercise would be free as long as the senior was an active member of my practice and they had their spine checked regularly. I am not in the gym business; I am in the healthcare business. The economic driver for me is an increase in patient volume. The demand created by the external media coverage for seniors to exercise causes potential patients to come in for exercise and learn about and/or receive the benefits of chiropractic care.
Doctors, externally marketing your practice is great but, when a senior or any patient is in your office, you have to educate them as well, whether passive or head on. I do it passively while they are exercising. I have them listening to fifties and sixties music while being educated about health and chiropractic through sophisticated health education videos on flat screened televisions, which I have throughout the work out area. I want these seniors to know why their kids and grand kids should have their spines checked in my office as well as themselves. Getting referrals has never been easier either.
When asking for referrals for chiropractic care, most patients have to think of someone they know that is suffering from some kind of health problem that they think chiropractic can help, usually neck or back pain. Asking for referrals for my program is a snap. All the seniors they know need to exercise and what better place to do it than in my office with their friends? Lifetime chiropractic care has never been easier to promote, because everyone already accepts that they should exercise for the rest of their life. Since the health benefits of exercise are so universally accepted, about half the new people that come in for this program have never been under chiropractic care before. I am finally tapping into that 90 percent of the population that doesn’t utilize chiropractic services.
The energy in the office has never been better or more fun. The office stats have never been better either. More new patients that consistently refer, stay and pay add up to a more successful practice. The exercise program has allowed seniors to stay fit and has helped my practice to grow bigger and stronger than ever before.
In these economic times, it is important to try to stand apart from the crowd and do things a little differently and, at the same time, deliver real life-changing benefits to patients. So, whichever part of the population you want to take care of, research the best possible program and keep several other things in mind. Do not increase staff or rent overhead, and make sure nothing takes away from your time in the adjusting rooms.
I have seniors receiving chiropractic care, exercising, having fun, losing weight, increasing bone density, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. The seniors love coming to my chiropractic office because it is a place where they have fun and receive the combined benefits of chiropractic care and exercise; whether they have symptoms or not—truly answering the paradigm shift to wellness.
Don’t forget this is about bringing chiropractic to that part of society you want to attract. For me, it’s about serving our seniors and their families.
Roger Russo, D.C., is the President and cofounder of Stay Fit Seniors, Inc., in 2006. He is a Palmer graduate (1980) and still in private practice. He started the Stay Fit Seniors program in 2004 in order to create demand for his practice and chiropractic, through the demand for exercise driven by mass media. He and Anthony Lauro, D.C., have developed this turnkey program for the entire profession. Call 1-800-385-1141 or visit www.stayfitseniors.com.