Obamacare and PI Marketing for Chiropractors

No other time in history has there been so many forces fighting against the success of hard working chiropractors. Low insurance payouts, Medicare cuts, restrictive HMO/PPO agreements and a bad recession have all combined to make it difficult on chiropractic offices nationwide.

Add to that the recent recession, which continues to put many doctors out of business, and you have what some call the Perfect Storm.

It’s not getting any easier. Even with the new Health Care Reform Act, things are likely to get much worse. After all, when has bringing more people into the third party payment game made things any better?

This is why in 2010 and forward I’m going to be stressing that you should diversify the types of cases you see. You can no longer sit back and simply think that all patient cases are created equal.

While as doctors, our heart always aches to help every patient, we’ve got to pay the bills or else close the doors. And while the occasional charity case is seen in chiropractors offices (probably more than any other health care profession), most of us did not open our practice to struggle through. As a doctor of chiropractic we should get paid, and get paid well for what we do.

How should you diversify your practice right now, to bring in more profits and protect against future health care changes?

One of the biggest ways to change your practice income and protect against future health care changes is by growing your PI cases. Here are just a few reasons to focus on PI right now and in the future:

PI cases are at a minimum 2-3 times higher in payouts than Major Med or Medicare patients.
It’s very likely that someone involved in a motor vehicle collision will require more care than the average chiropractic patient. Not necessarily more visits, although that could be the case, but more services per visit due to bruising, ligament damage, disc herniations, etc.

PI cases are not part of the national healthcare/health insurance mess.
Who knows what’s going to happen with the changes in medical insurance. But, one thing we do know is that these changes do not apply to Auto Insurance Policies. This means if done the right way, you’ll get paid for what you did on that injured PI patient.

Most Auto carriers pay generous fees for your services.
Have you ever had your fees cut 40%…50%…60% by a Major Med carrier? Rarely have I seen a PI carrier cut PI case fees. What about attorneys cutting fees? (See below for upcoming webinar to discover more on how to deal with attorneys.)

You’ve got an attorney fighting for the patient (and you!)
Attorneys aren’t always bad right? Especially when they’re working for your patient so you can get paid. Sure it takes a bit longer to get paid on some PI cases, but at 2-3 times the payout, its well worth it.

There are copious amounts of studies backing up your care for auto injuries.
If you’re trying to build your case as to why the patient needed all the care you provided, you’ve got a plethora of studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. This comes in very handy when writing a narrative.

Want to find out how one chiropractor is bringing in more new PI patients in a week than most chiropractors see in a year?

Click here to learn more about PI Marketing.

Chiropractic Math and The Struggling Practice

Math has never been my favorite subject. It wasn’t in elementary, middle school, high school, or college. Especially those nasty algebra and calculus type classes.

But as a business owner, I quickly learned that it didn’t matter how much I liked math and numbers, they are a fact of life.

You’ve got to be able to figure your stats. Determine your prices. Set up a care plan with x number of visits per week, month, etc. You need to keep good business statistics and know what those stats tell you.

For example, early on in practice, I thought my care plans were great. Patients were prepaying for care and my volume was high. What could be better?

The problem was that no money was coming in. So, I sat down and figured my average collection per visit. It came to about $17. No wonder the business was broke. But, without knowing the simple formula of collections divided by visits, I would not have been able to out this huge blunder in my practice.

You might be thinking this is simple stuff, anyone can figure it out. Yet, you would be surprised at the chiropractors I speak with who either don’t know how to figure simple stats or if they know how, simply don’t keep any numbers for their practice.

Here’s the biggest “chiropractic math” problem I see…

Chiropractors don’t figure ROI (Return on Investment)!

Let’s do a basic math problem. Say I get 12 new patients in the door from a newspaper ad which cost me $1000. And let’s assume I’m new in practice, and my conversions are low, so I only convert 4 of those patients to a care plan. If my care plans are worth $1500 (which is a very conservative case value) what was my ROI?

It’s ok to use a calculator on this test. (I had to :) )

The answer is 6:1, or a 600% ROI. So for every dollar invested, I made $6 back.

Do you run the ad again or not? How low is the ROI going to be before you say this ad doesn’t work?

You bet I’m going to run that ad again! For me it’s got to bring in at least 2:1 ROI over time. Meaning, after all the money comes in from the patients care plans, the minimum ROI it can bring is 2:1. Occasionally a newspaper ad will be a 1:1 or negative ROI, and I’ll tweak something or run it in a better paper and it immediately becomes a huge winner!

But, some chiropractors think an ad is a failure if it doesn’t bring in a 20:1 ROI or higher. In other words, they are upset if their ROI is only 5:1. What other business owner would be upset that the $1 they spent brought back $5?   No one.

Unfortunately, it happens daily in chiropractic. Look, the days of spending $0 on marketing and bringing in $30…$40…$50k a month are over. The days of running a killer ad and getting 676 new patients is over. It’s not 1991 anymore.

It’s time to face the fact you’ve got to pay for some marketing. And you’ve got to be happy with a positive return on investment.  Now the only question which remains is which marketing gives the best return?

What billion dollar business gets better than a 5:1 ROI on their external marketing dollars? What small business get’s better than this?

Are all your eggs in one basket?

Man how I wish they had a class on ROI in chiropractic school. As simple as it sounds, a doctor in an emotional situation or someone who says “I’m just not good at the business side of chiropractic” does not run these numbers.

I was there. I came out of school and thought 1 magic marketing pill, one magic ad would solve all my problems. I’d run one ad, get 100 new patients, and within a short time I’d have a 100% referral practice.

Then I woke up one day and realized if there was a 1 magic ad that brought in 100 new patients, everyone would soon be using it, and it wouldn’t bring in 100 new patients anymore.

I realized I would have to use multiple marketing strategies to grow my practice. But which ones? And how should I proportion my marketing budget out?

Then it came to me. Measure the ROI, return on investment, of each strategy. Put more money into the ones with the highest ROI. If it shows a 6 or 12 month decline, readjust the money into other high ROI marketing. Simple really.

The best thing about this strategy, was that I wasn’t relying on just 1 thing to grow. If the newspaper ad didn’t bring in a 100:1 ROI for me, no sweat. I’ll take a 5:1 ROI because I’ve got 7 other streams of new patient generation methods.

In other words, I didn’t put all the success on my practice on one thing. Even if that one thing works, I’ll need other streams of new patients so I can pay the bills, right?

Are you measuring your ROI? Are you putting the full load of your practice success on 1 ad or marketing strategy, or are you spreading your marketing out evenly over many different ads and other strategies?

The Myth of Chiropractic Marketing Fishing Poles

The more fishing poles you have in the water, the more fish you’ll catch, right?

I’m not a big fan of this analogy, and here’s why.

First, let’s look at what’s true about it.

It is certainly true that you want to have more than one marketing method being used in your office. And seeing as most chiropractors don’t have any solid marketing strategies in use, I can see why so many marketers are teaching this analogy.

In fact, many chiropractors expect there to be one magic pill that fixes their marketing woes. Relying on only one marketing strategy in your practice, even if it works great, is a recipe for failure. Hey, my Ultimate Chiropractic Ads work great in getting hundreds of new patients and thousands of dollars into your practice over time, but I have never claimed they’re the only marketing method you’ll ever need in practice.

With that said, let’s look at the fishing poles analogy a little closer.

More fishing poles is always better, right?

Are more new patients always a good thing, or does quality factor into the equation?

I don’t know about you, but I’d take 10 referral new patients over 50 telemarketing new patients any day of the week. You see, quality of patients is a big factor as well. Therefore, all marketing methods are not created equal.

I realize when we start talking about patients (people) having a measurement of quality associated with them, it’s going to make some doctors uncomfortable. I hope you realize I’m not talking about the way they dress, talk, or even act. Truth is, there is only so much time in the day. I would rather spend that time working with people who really want help and are willing to pay full price for it.

Back to our fishing poles analogy. After hearing it, you might think, “if having more marketing strategies is always better, why not 50 of them? Why not 100? Why not 500?” and so on.

I grew up fishing. My grandparents fished the rivers of Central Texas. My parents still fish the lakes every summer. By the time I was 18, I had eaten more catfish then most people do in a lifetime (and catfish is not the healthiest fish either!) I still like to go with my kids, when I can actually get away.

And there’s one thing I know about fishing…there’s a limit to how many poles you can handle at one time. At most you can hold one in each hand, then maybe have 4-6 in holders on the boat if you are really good. What do you think is going to happen if you try and add a couple more?

It’s very likely you’ll spend all your time just trying to keep your lines baited. If you get more than one fish on a line at a time, you’ll be in a bind, and maybe even loose one fish or both.

Now you could hire a “fishing pole” manager, akin to a marketing manager. And now that person can handle 8-10 poles while you can still handle your 8-10 poles. But the manager has to check with you every few minutes to see if she’s doing it right. Plus, you still got to tell them what kind of bait to put on the line, how long to leave the line out there, how far to cast, etc.

And what happens if you get a line tangled up? Now you’ve got to go mess with that and clean it up. Are you seeing the similarities to your practice yet?

Here’s the point…

You can only handle so many fishing poles at one time. That’s not being pessimistic, it’s just being real. It’s much better to have 8-10 really strong ones, shaving off the bad ones and adding news ones as you go along.

Perhaps over 5,10, or 20 years you can build up marketing strategies that can be left alone to work. By using the internet you can plug in many marketing methods which will run on autopilot, taking up a very small amount of time. But getting 100 strategies set up? Not likely.

That’s why you’ve got to make sure your 8-10 are working well. I recommend doing niche specific marketing like PI marketing, decompression marketing, neuropathy marketing,  and fibromyalgia marketing. You should do market in the newspaper, on the internet, through referrals, in office marketing, snail mail, email…even the radio and TV is your budget allows.