Patient Transformation vs. Patient Education

In Newsday, October 17, 2007, I found the headline “Physical and tests which cost $7.8 billion a year in the US may have little value for the healthy, experts say.” The article goes on to say, “There is little evidence, if any, that doing comprehensive exams yearly on patients without symptoms is good for anything. Instead of asking patients to come in every year for a check-up, physicians should be figuring out which patients need what types of preventative care and making sure they get those services, said Dr. Ned Calonge, chairman of the US Preventive Services Task Force.” This is a barely disguised recommendation to send healthy people to chiropractors so that they remain healthy. The times are changing and the ripples from the “wellness revolution” are reaching the allopathic shores!

We often hear that “there has never been a better time to be a chiropractor,” and it appears to be true. The question is, then, why are chiropractors still stuck in seeing less than 10 percent of the population after having “educated” people about chiropractic for 113 years? Maybe one of the reasons is the fact that there is more competition and there are more choices available today in the alternative or complementary field. Attendance to Yoga classes has exploded in the last five years, acupuncture treatments have become more mainstream, spas have opened on every street corner, massage therapy is booming. Another reason might be that drug companies also have jumped on the wellness bandwagon. Let’s look at the following mission statement: “At … we recognize your proactive role in managing your family’s health and we are here to help body, mind and spirit. We dedicate the website to helping you live a healthy life.” We would all agree that this mission statement would perfectly reflect the principles and philosophy of most chiropractors and could be posted on chiropractic websites. In fact, it is posted on the home page of Pharmasave’s website, one of the largest chains of independent pharmacists in Canada. Does that mission statement really represent the purpose of a drugstore? In some cases, drugstores still sell cigarettes at the front counter!

In September of last year, I went back to France for a week to visit with my father who was undergoing surgery. My visit coincided with the world cup of rugby. As I was driving in the countryside, I happen to catch on the radio that one of the rugby players was nicknamed “the chiropractor.” His name is Brian Lima, from the Samoa Rugby Team. When I learned more about him, I found out that his nickname came from his reputation to deliver “monstrous hits and bone-jarring tackles.” Here is the definition of “jarring” in the dictionary: to have a harshly unpleasant or perturbing effect on one’s nerves, feelings, thoughts, etc….

Please sign me up for chiropractic care right now! The sad reality is this perception of chiropractic is anchored in the minds of millions of people, who are simply afraid to get adjusted. All the publicity around neck adjustments and strokes in the last few years did not help either and fear is a daunting obstacle because reasonable arguments and patient education are usually not enough to overcome it.

No more than ten years ago, tea was reduced to very few choices like Earl Grey English Breakfast, Chamomile and Red Rose. Today, hundreds of selections are available in the aisles of a Whole Food store and it is sometimes a difficult decision to pick the right one. One of the companies that has become hugely successful is Numi. It is run by a brother and sister team. The packages are true works of art, hand-painted by her, inspired by photographs he takes while travelling the world in search of organic and exotic teas. On every Numi package, it says, “Tea is liquid meditation, reminding us to enter a time and space to find our own thoughts and visions. We invite you to take the tea transformation.”

We need to create a shift in how people perceive chiropractic, just like the tea industry was able to elevate the experience of drinking tea from just a few choices to an almost spiritual experience and sales stated to explode. My chiropractic transformation experience happened about twelve years ago when I attended my first seminar. At the break, I saw chiropractors adjusting each other and their family members, too. None of them seemed to be suffering from back pain and there was a special energy in the room. They even seemed to enjoy the experience! I wanted to learn more and decided to listen to the speakers. The transformation had started for me and the speaker I heard that day opened my mind and inspired me further.

Eighty-five percent of people are visual learners. We listen with our eyes. Imagine the power of patients watching pictures of yourself getting adjusted on a big plasma TV with a caption which reads that you get adjusted weekly to perform at your peak potential! What about pictures of yourself adjusting your kids with the text that reads you checked them for subluxations shortly after they were born! This will challenge people’s thinking and open up their minds to new possibilities. A once-a-week patient orientation class is another fantastic way to create a shift. When I ask chiropractors why they went to Chiropractic College, I often hear very inspiring stories. Why not share those stories with your patients in the safe setting of a health talk.

My chiropractor, Dr. Patrick Foran, passed away over a year ago. Passionate over chiropractic, he had dedicated his life to it, his family and his patients. After he adjusted me and I was saying goodbye, he would often place his hand over my hand, look me in the eyes and stay silent for a few seconds. In these few seconds, I knew that he truly cared and this caring, attention and presence added another dimension to the entire experience. Chiropractors have a fantastic opportunity to fill in a role people are asking for but we need to communicate the chiropractic message a different way—the way of the new millennium, the patient transformation way. There is a native American saying that goes, “Tell me and I will forget; show me and I will remember; involve me and I will understand.” Let us all work together to find new ways to get people involved in chiropractic.

Laurent Goldstein is the president of Brican Systems Corporation, a company dedicated to helping chiropractors get more patients under care. He has a strong background in marketing and has worked in the past with optometrists, dentists, veterinarians and podiatrists, helping them grow their practices from the inside out. For more information, call 1-800-644-1055, Ext. 30, or e-mail [email protected].


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