When setting up to fail is a good thing.
This is my first ever blog. It will get better.
I must preface this ramble by saying that I am not having a go at other healthcare providers, including chiropractors. Really, I am not. They have families to feed, bills to pay, etc. We all do what we have to do to survive and, hopefully, succeed. That said, Christyann and I very early on realized that we had choices to make about how we ran our chiropractic practice. The biggest question was whether to take insurance or to have a cash-based (I prefer the term “self-pay”) practice. We decided on a self-pay practice, mainly because we knew that the costs of running an insurance-based practice were morally and financially exorbitant (hiring billing staff, being paid a quarter of what we earned, not being able to spend more than 5 minutes with each patient, turning our practice into a “patient mill”, increasing our fees for all patients to cover shortfalls, etc.). We also did not want to be in the position where an insurance company dictated how much care could be provided. In the end it was an easy decision.
The next decision was our fees. We looked around at fees charged by other providers in the area, looked at the Medicare fee schedule (which most insurance companies use as a yardstick when it comes to assessing appropriate fees for services), and looked into our own hearts (remembering that whole “A fair day's wages for a fair day's work” idea out of the Bible). After due consideration and much tea, we picked fees just below the Medicare fee schedule. This means that our fees are below many insurance company co-pays and below those charged by practically every other chiropractor in the area, but it also means that we do not charge an inflated rate to patients without insurance – everyone wins. We have from the very beginning wanted to be fair, reasonable and affordable for everyone.
Our last major decision, which has come to the forefront again now that I am back in the practice full-time and we are working on building up our practice, is marketing. We are awful at marketing. We do not like flashy gimmicks, we do not like promising the moon, and we prefer not to blow our own trumpets. I have looked at how some other healthcare practices market to potential clients, and I have looked at what specialist marketing companies have to offer. Practically all of what I read was about treating potential patients as commodities, not as human beings. This attitude is not for us. Nope. A thousand times nope. We have an utter dislike for trying high pressure marketing to get more patients. Our main source of “marketing”, if I can even call it that, is doing our best with everyone who comes through our doors in need of help. If we do well, then we are grateful if our patients refer new patients to us (oh, and you get $10 off your next treatment for each new patient referred – that is about as far as we go when it comes to hype). We succeed or fail based on how well we do. Every patient we help is our success.
In summary, we have several black marks against us succeeding. We do not take insurance and we do not do intensive marketing. For any healthcare provider this would be potential suicide. We may indeed have set ourselves up for failure in the eyes of society, but we have set ourselves up to succeed where it counts, with those we can and do help.