Chiropractors are beginning to recognize the advantages of expanding their practices to include other medical professions to provide patients with more rounded, comprehensive approaches to treatment.
The tide of chiropractors medically integrating their practices continues to rise as federal and state legislators search for footing on an unstable healthcare landscape.
However, as interest in bringing other treatment models into the fold grows, many of us are wondering which path to pursue, how to bring other medical professions into our practices and how to create a cohesive practice that incorporates other disciplines.
So, is this the right time?
With the shortage of medical doctors, with legislators creating more favorable environments for chiropractic and as the public gets more focused and educated in its healthcare concerns, the time is, indeed, ripe to integrate.
As the older edges of the baby boomer generation move into retirement and their healthcare needs increase and as millennials demand more personalized, customized and service-centric healthcare, chiropractors are being presented with some unique opportunities.
For more than a century, the divide between chiropractic and traditional medicine has widened with major lawsuits and legal challenges, with regulatory changes, with increasingly complicated insurance policies and an aggressive pharmaceutical industry – with chiropractic getting the short end of stick. Until recently.
How can we take advantage of the changing healthcare landscape to create strong, prosperous practices that carry us well into the future and help us transform our communities? First, let’s compare multidisciplinary practices and integrated practices to discover what they are, what they’ll accomplish and why it matters.
The first takeaway: The two are definitely not the same. Medically integrated practices and multidisciplinary practices are very different entities that function very differently and reach very different objectives.
Defining the Terms
The first step in deciding which type of practice to examine is by defining our terminology.
Many chiropractors who have delved sometimes haphazardously into medical integration mistakenly believe they’re operating medically integrated practices.
A multidiscipline practice involves several different healthcare practitioners with licenses to practice in different fields in the same office. The doctors generally work independently of each other with little or no collaboration. In essence, multidisciplinary practices merely put doctors closer together, which means travel time to see a specialist is considerably shorter and final treatment plans are delayed – sometime after paperwork, charts and test results are transferred and reviewed by other practitioners.
In integrated practices, doctors in different disciplines – medicine, chiropractic – work together to provide care for patients by developing more targeted and uniquely tailored treatment approaches.
Consider the stroke victim. Integrated practices may merge the expertise of physical therapists, nurses, psychiatrists, cognitive therapists and speech therapists to chart the path to the patient’s recovery. The combined insight from alternative professional perspectives creates a more holistic and encompassing approach that goes beyond the scope used in narrowly equipped practices.
Medically integrated practices also put management and direction under the authority of one company or owner, which leads to greater profit potential, a more streamlined business operation and a unified healthcare philosophy.
Go Team, Go
Let’s look closer at how medically integrated practices work on the inside and how they’ll benefit you and your patients.
The integrated practice invokes a team atmosphere to patient diagnoses with various practitioners collaborating to produce the ideal treatment outcome. It becomes a discussion among team members with the same goal in mind.
Look at football as an example. Coaches may call in their best linebackers against strong quarterbacks. In the same way, healthcare practice owners may enlist the help of chiropractors, physical therapists and doctors of osteopathic to help patients suffering from back problems.
Why is This Good?
While statistics show a slight rise in the number of new medical doctors, the increase isn’t sufficient to keep pace with population growth trends, changing demographics and the aging populace.
Experts say the shortage of medical doctors is expected to continue at least for the next decade. The Association of American Medical Colleges blames Congress for failing to take more active measures to stem shortages.
Physician assistants and nurses are continuing to fill the void in providing basic treatment while chiropractors are gaining new ground in providing diagnostic care and reshaping the way the public views healthcare.
We as chiropractors take a more holistic-based approach to treatment by addressing the cause of ailments rather than attempting to alleviate symptoms, a philosophy that has historically garnered criticism from traditional medicine proponents. We are being presented at this time with the opportunity to change the face of modern healthcare and, as a result, benefit professionally as well.
Medical integration puts that uniquely proactive perspective at the center of patient discussions to create a more collaborative union that incorporates a wider spread of contributions leading to greater patient outcomes, an aim medical doctors are increasingly finding enticing even when treatment approaches go beyond their traditional schools of thought.
Who Can Do What?
The benefits to medical integration are even being seen on the fringes on the lower tiers of the medical establishment. The authority of the physician assistant (PA) and nurse practitioners has grown considerably since the early 1990s when medical doctors made the major decisions. That has changed significantly with many states, particularly in the western United States, granting greater authority and autonomy to nondoctor staff.
That puts medical integration on even firmer footing as skilled PAs and nurses seek greater employment opportunities.
While diagnostic authority and privilege varies between states, chiropractors are discovering the benefits of medical integration to their individual practices and to their goal of providing their patients with the best possible care that adheres to the basic chiropractic philosophy of allowing the body’s innate healing ability to manifest.
Add to the mix today’s new patients who are entering practices armed with more knowledge of their conditions compared to their counterparts from earlier generations, but who ironically are not nearly as healthy.
Medical Integration: The Path to the Future
With more than 30 years of chiropractic experience, we at Advanced Medical Integration bring the right tools and techniques to the table to create a successful, thriving medically integrated practice that provides patients with a wide ranging, comprehensive set of treatment options.
Coaches at AMI steer chiropractors through the hiring process and the institution of effective management and operational strategies that foster heavy revenue flow and greater patient outcomes.
Fully integrated medical practices allow chiropractors and doctors to administer patient-centric treatments that embody the ideal in healthcare – which is to make people whole and healthy.
The potential to steer today’s ailing healthcare industry to more robust horizons lays in the hands of the chiropractor. Isn’t it time to tap into that potential? Contact us today to learn more.