10 Trends to Watch in the World of Chiropractics in 2017
The chiropractic profession is a rapidly evolving one with changes being spurred on by advances in technology. Today, chiropractors are worrying about data security as much as they are about social media marketing. And then there are the changes in legislation. Obamacare brought about the use of electronic medical records that a chiropractor has to update.
And these are only two examples. The dynamic nature of the chiropractic industry means that to be a successful chiropractor, you must keep abreast of these changes. With that in mind, here are the trends to watch in the world of chiropractics in 2017.
1) Increased Brand Management
We live in a digital age where information about anything or anyone is readily available online. And as such, your online reputation matters, especially if you are a chiropractor or health professional. For unlike in the past, the modern patient is technology savvy and will first look you up online before enlisting your services.
In fact, according to a 2013 Software Advice report, 62 percent of all patients today do this. The report also revealed that online reviews sites, such as WebMD, ZocDoc, and Vitals, influence patients’ opinions about doctors the most. So, be attentive to what such sites are saying about you online be it positive or negative. In short, manage your online reputation.
2) Electronic Medical Records
Recent healthcare reforms, Obamacare in particular, have led to the adoption of the electronic medical record (EMR). These records gather more than a patient’s medical data but go a step further and compile a patient’s comprehensive medical history. Even better, EMRs improve service delivery by allowing medical providers to share patient data.
Yet despite the benefits of EMRs, chiropractors have a laid back attitude towards them. Many have busy schedules and tend to update their patient files only when they get around to doing it. Unfortunately, this “get around to it” attitude has many negative consequences. It can land you in trouble with auditors or insurers, or put you at risk of lawsuits and penalties.
3) Better Data Security
The adoption of EMRs in the health sector has brought to light a new problem – data security. Few chiropractors know about data security, let alone care about it. But unknown to them, they are the target of cyber criminals. In the past, criminals targeted only large corporations and businesses. Today, however, every computer user is at risk, especially the health professional.
In their daily work, health professionals use EMRs. The personal information contained in an EMR, such as names and social security numbers, is what the criminals are after. They are also after the credit card numbers contained in the billing records of a health practice.
Fortunately, major clinics like CORE chiropractic are less at risk of an attack. Criminals regard smaller clinics as easy pickings because some take data security for granted. Of the 855 data breaches examined by a 2012 Data Breach Investigations Study, 607 affected small businesses. For this reason, chiropractors must place data security at the top of their information technology priorities.
4) More Marketing
Chiropractors are not known for marketing their services. Most are too busy to bother with marketing, and the few who try to do so lack the necessary skills to do it effectively. It is true that a few years back, you could operate a successful practice without ever having to market your services. And if you felt inclined to do some advertising, you relied on The Yellow Pages and other traditional forms of marketing.
But not anymore, for times have changed. Universities have entered the chiropractic field, making it more competitive than it has ever been. So, to survive the competition, you must do what you have never done before – aggressive marketing.
5) Website Creation
As mentioned above, chiropractors have had to learn how to market their services. And because a website is crucial to any marketing strategy, chiropractors have also had to learn how to create a website as well. Yes, they are still using The Yellow Pages but traditional forms of advertising are decreasing by 15 percent every year.
Websites and other digital forms of marketing are the future and chiropractors know that. As mentioned earlier, 62 percent of all medical patients do an online search when finding a doctor. Although this is true, the figure rises to 98 percent for chiropractic patients. Chiropractors are, after all, fewer in number than regular doctors and thus harder to find without doing a search.
After doing the search, patients find a link to a chiropractor’s website, which contains details about the services on offer. More importantly, it contains contact information, such as phone and email address. This means that without a website, your chiropractic practice is as good as non-existent.
6) Increased Social Media Presence
In the chiropractic business – and in any business for that matter, being on social media is just as important as having a website. And the numbers speak for themselves. According to Statista, 2.5 billion adults use social media today. By 2020, this number will rise to about 2.82 billion, says Statista. Facebook, the largest social network, had 1.94 billion active users in the first quarter of 2017.
These numbers speak of two things. One, of course, is that social media is popular. The platform allows users to not only reach out to others, but also to form relationships with them. Two, social media is the single largest marketplace on earth.
So, to make the most of the social networks, you must keep these two things in mind. Yes, you must use social media to promote your services. But if you are to impact patients and enlarge your client base, reach out to and cultivate relationships with your clients. Sending clients a simple social media message like “I will be late today” will go a long way to ensuring their loyalty.
7) A Shift to Crowdfunding and Angel Investing
After the 2008 global financial crisis, traditional lenders became reluctant to loan out money. Years later, they are still reluctant, bad news for any chiropractor wishing to expand his or her practice. In response to this demand for credit and much to the relief of chiropractors, non-traditional lenders rushed to fill the gap left by banks.
One such alternative lender is the crowdfunding system of lending. Here, you fund a project using contributions from many small online lenders. Another unconventional way of funding a venture is angel investing. But unlike crowdfunding with its many lenders, angel investing has only one affluent investor. However, the investor lends money in exchange for ownership equity.
8) The Impact of Wearable Smart Devices
Smart devices are changing health care as we know it, and the chiropractic field is not being left behind. Wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, allow a chiropractor to track a patient’s vitals. In addition, these devices also track a patient’s daily habits. With this information, the chiropractor can better set a patient’s activity goals.
9) Seminars and Further Education
To keep up with the changes in the profession, chiropractors must attend seminars and interact with others in the industry. Investing your time in the acquisition of knowledge has an obvious advantage. Any new information you acquire helps you to run your practice better. But sometimes, seminars are not enough. You might feel the need to go back to school and increase your professional skills.
10) Incorporating Wellness Programs
Chiropractors today are incorporating wellness programs into their practice for many reasons. One is the increasing competition in the profession. Without diversifying into something else, in this case, wellness programs, you will have a harder time making a living from your chiropractic practice.
The second reason is the health benefit of wellness programs. A program such as high-intensity interval training, a cardiac exercise, helps chiropractic patients with heart ailments. Light therapy, on the other hand, uses cold lasers to reduce back and neck pain. Some programs like yoga relieve chiropractic pain and improve a patient’s flexibility.
The growth of the elderly population is the third reason. Most developed countries have an aging population that needs chiropractic care. For instance, seniors accounted for 13.3 percent of the total US population in 2013, according to the US Census Bureau. That is 41.4 million people.
The Bureau goes on to predict that this percentage will reach 20 percent in 2060, or about 92 million people. Furthermore, of the 92 million seniors, about 18 million will be more than 85 years old. With so many seniors in need of chiropractic care, chiropractors are shifting their focus to this demographic.
The fourth reason is as a result of another growing demographic – people with obesity. Take the United States, for example. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 36.5 percent of adults have obesity. And they are at risk of getting serious medical complications, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Being overweight also affects their spine and spinal alignment. When this happens, chiropractors make chiropractic adjustments to help relieve the patient’s pain and restore his or her mobility. In addition, some have specialized training in diet and nutrition, and can, therefore, advise their patients on how to lose weight.
Although the chiropractic profession evolves rapidly, the following trends are the ones to watch out for in 2017. For one, chiropractors will focus on their online reputations and on updating their patients EMRs. They will also be keen on improving data security, marketing their services, and creating websites.
Having a greater presence on social media will also be on their minds. There will also be a focus on crowdfunding, smart devices, and furthering their education. Finally, most will incorporate wellness programs into their chiropractic practices.