Opening a new chiropractic practice can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to feel like taking a leap of faith if you lay a strong enough foundation on your way. While joining a larger, established clinic can bring stability in the short term, many chiropractors crave the independence that being a business owner can provide.
“Towards the end of graduation, and as I started working with other chiropractors, I realized that I wanted to start my own practice. Then I could be independent and continue to help people while having that authority and autonomy that I wanted,” said Dr. Jonathan Adams of the California-based practice The UnBroken Body.
Likewise, Dr. Alex Miller spent a couple of years working under other chiropractors, but throughout that time, he was saving money and preparing for an opportunity to strike out on his own. Today he runs KC Performance Chiropractic & Rehab in Kansas City, Missouri and feels strongly about being able to operate a clinic on his own terms.
Preparing to Open Your Practice
While Dr. Adams was ready to hit the ground running right after graduation, he found himself in a licensing limbo. After passing his exams, he had to wait for the state to process his paperwork before officially practicing. While the licensing process can take longer than anticipated, it doesn’t mean you can’t use that time productively. Establishing yourself in the community and building relationships can help you start strong once the doors to your practice open.
This will allow you to confidently showcase your skills and build trust with the people in your area. Build those relationships at the farmer’s market, the gym or even other doctors’ offices.
“When you’re out networking, it’s really important for young doctors to apply their trade on people when they meet them. Give someone a little arm massage, show them what you’re talking about, and explain to them what you want to help them with. If you can help that person feel better, that’s all it takes. There’s no advertisement anywhere that will relay that type of emotion,” said Dr. Adams.
Though it can be comforting to have all of the most cutting edge equipment in your practice, it can also slow you down from opening up and actually beginning to practice on patients.
“One of the things that one of my early mentors said is, ‘If you have a table and your hands, you can pretty much start your practice.’ If push comes to shove, you can start lean. That’s basically what I had. I had a portable adjusting table, some other basic equipment and my hands,” Dr. Miller said.
He advises new doctors to keep their overhead low early on. He rented an office space at a lower price which allowed him to hire a web developer to build his website. Give yourself time to acquire all of the fancy bells and whistles along the way. In the meantime, you can help yourself build towards that goal by simply getting to work with the essentials.
Deciding on a Practice Management Software
Choosing the right EHR software for chiropractors can make a world of difference in your day to day operations. There are many options to consider, and you’ll want to strike the right balance between cost effectiveness and functionality. Perhaps you just want something barebones that takes notes and isn’t overly complicated, or maybe you want something more robust.
“I actually chose DrChrono, because I found myself not having enough time to do all of the other little tidbits like making the phone calls, answering the emails, writing the papers and all of the things you have to do when you’re an independent doctor,” said Dr. Adams.
Dr. Miller saw a lot of value in having a mobile EHR that he could manage directly from his iPhone.
“I could literally take my phone into the treatment room if I wanted to, pull up the patient notes, and do anything I needed to from there,” he said. That flexibility was especially useful early on while he was still building out his practice’s infrastructure.
Challenges for Chiropractic Practices
One of the most surprising challenges Dr. Adams faced early on was validating chiropractic care to people who were not convinced of its benefits.
“When you’re out talking to people without that support, you find out people really have some reservations about what you do, maybe thinking it’s dangerous even. Those interactions remind you to have a little humility and patience,” he said.
COVID-19 also proved to be a challenge as he tried to grow his practice in that period; however, the increased work-from-home population brought about new clients dealing with ergonomic issues. Likewise, as a result of COVID-19, more business spaces were available which made his search for a location easier.
Dr. Miller’s main hurdle to clear was learning the ins-and-outs of medical billing. Getting the hang of all of the acronyms, demographics and how to communicate information to insurance companies was difficult. When he learned more about billing, he found that DrChrono’s medical billing software really streamlined that process.
“The first three or four months, I was basically cash based, and then little by little, I was able to figure out how the billing process works. It’s fairly straightforward with DrChrono. By the time I’m done with the note, the bill is sent out, and then we get something back in about a week or two,” he said.
Both Dr. Adams and Dr. Miller overcame these obstacles and more, and now their practices are running smoothly. For those hoping to see similar results, remember that it requires more than just your chiropractic license to thrive as a business owner. It requires some financial and marketing savvy, along with good people skills and patience to set yourself up for success.