The Future Of Chiropractic

The Future of Chiropractic
Dr. Steven Weiniger / Senior Editor BodyZone.com

Chiropractic’s role in 21st century healthcare is being written now, and those of us in practice at the dawn of the millennium are all contributing authors. Chiropractic has been a profession isolated, marked by disunity and plagued by disagreement on such basic questions as “What is a chiropractor?” Despite our differences, I believe all of us, from passionate subluxation based straights to earnest evidence based mixers, can agree on one thing: as a profession, chiropractors do not and will not agree on a definition of chiropractic.

Management guru and futurist John Naisbet advises that in turbulent times those responsible for creating change do not try and solve problems, but rather pursue opportunity. So instead of trying to solve the insoluble chiropractic identity problem, or focusing on managed care problems and restrictive insurance policies, perhaps we should pursue the impending opportunity at the confluence of aging boomers, consumerism and internet technology that together are forever changing healthcare in America.

My contention is that our opportunity is to become Posture Experts. Posture is a viable chiropractic market identity, and a true consumer concern which will grow as boomers age and begin to hunch over as their posture degenerates. Obviously other practice elements are important, but our market identity must be consumer/patient oriented. The consumer never wants a ¼-inch drill bit…he wants a ¼-inch hole.

In late 2006 the World Federation of Chiropractic voted to support a market identity of Chiropractors as the spinal health care experts within mainstream health care. After carefully differentiating between market identity and the full range of chiropractic education (which included improving overall wellbeing, quality of life, and NMS function in a drug-less and surgery-free approach) delegates from the chiropractic colleges agreed to a chiropractic market identity of spinal health expert. Now, while I applaud our intra-professional cooperation, in my opinion the identity of spinal health care is weak because it looks at it from OUR point of view instead of the CONSUMERS’. We see spine care because that is what we all have in common, but I believe a more relevant question to ask is what the consumer sees.

I have asked literally thousands of people the question “What is a chiropractor?”. They usually say something like “a back doctor,” “an auto accident doctor,” “someone who makes me feel great,” or “where I go to get my back popped.” People don’t think about spine care unless there is a problem. Especially in the minds of aging boomers, I would wager osteoporosis will loom far larger than subluxation as a potential “spine care” concern, ironically placing the largest consumer-perceived spine-care need outside our scope of practice!

Being the Posture Expert is a viable market identity for most DCs whether their market is back specialist with a medical orientation, subluxation oriented wellness, sports, rehab, or just old fashioned pain relief. Economics and consumer desire will rule the coming changes in healthcare, and posture is a consumer concern which will grow as boomers age and begin to see their posture degenerate and hunch over.

Strengthening posture with posture exercises and chiropractic empowers patients, and can provide the foundation for a patient choice practice. The trend is towards a society of empowered patients, so educating patients to understand posture and body mechanics encourages them to value your services sufficiently to desire them despite a lack of insurance reimbursement.

BodyZone.com has a vision to create the cultural awareness that you must move well to age well, a self-evident idea that is presently also being popularized by professionals other than DCs. I believe a network of posture based chiropractic practices, teaching sound biomechanics and encouraging daily posture exercises which patients kinesthetically “feel” are right, can align with a “move well to age well” meme to create a “tipping point” towards the idea that intelligent people who want to age well get adjusted. Creating cultural authority for the profession would be a byproduct of the shifted perceptions towards the desirability of regular adjustments.

I am assembling a network of Change Agents: DCs with posture-based practices who teach the BodyZone.com Posture Exercises. If you agree with these ideas and would like to be on an e-mail list to exchange ideas for this project, please email your name, address, and phone to me at DrWeiniger@bodyzone.com (please put the words “Change Agent” on the subject line). If you disagree with these ideas, please email me as well and let me know where our visions diverge.

I fervently believe we are entering a decade of positive change for our profession. Whether our possibilities are realized—or the profession becomes increasingly marginalized—will be decided during our watch.

ACTION STEPS:

Join our network of Change Agents.

If you are not already taking posture pictures –
Check out the PostureZone Clinical Posture Assessment software and accompanying PostureZone Wall Grid
or the PostureZone Portable Grid
If you are not incorporating posture exercises –
Learn how at an Integrating Chiropractic and Posture Exercise seminar: www.dcSeminar.com

If you do take posture pictures and teach the BodyZone.com posture exercises –
Consider participating in the BodyZone.com Posture Demonstration Project. Email me: DrWeiniger@bodyzone.com for more info.