Articles by JCS
Chiropractic & Wall Street
One reason why chiropractic seems to be ignored by the powers-to-be is because we’re not on Wall Street. Aside from the bias the editors of The Wall Street Journal have previously shown toward chiropractic (the children-being-adjusting article), a larger issue still exists—the fact that no one can invest in our profession. Indeed, we’re mostly a misunderstood phantom profession to investors.
Even if a multi-billionaire like Bill Gates took a liking to chiropractic and wanted to profit by our services, he has no where to invest his money. While he could donate plenty of money to our colleges, aside from small vendors or malpractice insurance companies, he would have nothing to invest in like the opportunities in the medical cartel. He could sink plenty of money in pharmaceutical companies, hospital chains, and insurance companies since they are listed on the NYSE, but nothing in chiropractic avails him the same investment opportunities.
While the overall economy booms as we see the Dow Jones, S & P and NASDAQ going upwards, the chiropractic profession has nothing to shout about. Actually, our profession’s economy has shrunk as the latest ACA Statistical Survey indicates with DCs earning less today than ten years ago. Of the trillion dollar plus outlay for medical services, chiropractic accounted for only 4% of this—small fry in the sea of medical sharks, to say the least. In effect, chiropractic might be considered a cottage industry—an offshoot of the larger medical profession.
Since we are so small with few funds to support our position in managed care, we act like marionettes whose strings are always being pulled by someone else. Considering that AMPAC gave approximately $8 million in the first half of last year to Congress and the MCOs’ PACs gave a whopping $95.5 million compared to the ACA’s paltry $100,000, is it little wonder we get short shrift from legislators?
So, what’s the solution? Do we remain “off the board” as far as Wall St. is concerned and never available to investors?
It reminds me of MacDonalds restaurant chain versus independent, disorganized hamburger stands. Instead of 55,000 hamburger stands linked together by one corporation, we remain all separate. If we were incorporated together as are MacDonalds, we could have one centralized administration responsible for management and marketing. We could sell stock to investors, spend more money on research and development, and more on politicking. But as 55,000 independent operators, we can’t do any of that, just like independent hamburger stands couldn’t either.
I recall Dr. Clem Bezold of Alternative Futures Institute mentioned at the COCSA meeting in San Diego his four future scenarios of chiropractic in the year 2010. Although he left out the “perverse motivations” that exist in healthcare that actually control our destiny, one of his scenarios mentioned was the concept of Wal-Mart Back Centers. The idea was to have DCs in Wal-Marts offering chiropractic services similar to opticians. At first glance, I cringed at that scenario thinking it might be seen as a Spines ‘R Us type of practice (just without the free chicken dinners), but upon further review, it may be an answer to this lack-of-investment opportunity problem we face.
For instance, what if Wal-Mart or some other large corporation or Bill Gates began a franchise of chiropractic offices with standardization of care and ethical promotions? Think of the possible benefits. First of all, consumers would be exposed to chiropractic unlike ever before with a major corporation promoting it. Secondly, consumers would know what they’re getting if every franchise operated on the same basis. Like MacDonalds, all their franchises produce the same products. Presently in chiropractic, 100 DCs may do 100 different treatments, much to the chagrin of insurers and patients alike. Thirdly, with sound management, the chiropractors would learn how to operate a profitable office and not need the services of the practice gurus teaching gimmicks and Scientology crapola. Fourthly, with proper capitalization, young practitioners wouldn’t be relegated to the hole-in-the-wall offices in strip malls.
Not only would these Back Center franchises give a clearer message to the public, their massive advertising ability would validate chiropractic care unlike any other PR campaign this profession has ever done. Unfortunately, chiropractic has never had anyone of authority (except AHCPR or Manga) validate our services on a public level. Other than word-of-mouth, we remain the mystery science profession to most folks. However, with a MacDonalds type advertising campaign, every chiropractic office would benefit with corporate advertising, training and validation.
Once Wal-Mart gained success, other corporations might do the same. Imagine if every major merchandising corporation began a chain of clinics—Sears, K-Mart, Home Depot—the validation and exposure it would immediately create for us. And if an entrepreneur like Gates decided to invest a mere billion dollars (pocket change to him) in his own string of chiropractic franchises, what an impact it would be for young grads who would be properly trained and capitalized from the start.
Plus investors could invest in this growing trend to chiropractic care with assurances of standards of care, management and legitimization. Perhaps then chiropractic could emerge on Wall Street as a viable service-oriented industry capable of giving investors a good return on their investments.
But, what do I know? I’m just a country chiropractor wondering when chiropractic will become part of the mainstream in America.