Creating a Chiropractic-Based
Patient Education System

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Thanks to Today's Chiropractic for permission to reproduce this article!

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.

By Joseph Flesia, D.C.

Many chiropractors may ponder why bother to educate patients, but it is well known that a better-educated patient make better decisions about appropriate health care.

When we think about patient education, my mind immediately asks the following questions:

1. What do you educate them about?

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?

Choosing 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 program.

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 wellness.

Educating 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 of subluxation.

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.

Proudly 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 penetration.

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.

What 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 reality.

The 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 have:

• A familiar voice as the main speaker in the system;

• It should offer an introduction to the office and the background of the doctor;

• A colorful, entertaining review of chiropractic;

• A complete new patient consultation with automated case history with an automatic printout at the end of the case history; and

• A built-in 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.



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