A quick Internet search of awareness campaigns held during the month of October yielded Breast Cancer awareness, Down syndrome awareness, Lupus awareness and Domestic Violence awareness: all worthy of recognition and support. Over the past several years, ACA has celebrated National Chiropractic Health Month during October. This campaign provides an annual opportunity to reach out to individual communities and the public to tout the benefits of the chiropractic healthcare brand. The 2014 theme is “Conservative Care First.”
As our profession has evolved, it has become clear that our distinction in the health care environment is conservative care. Patient management in the chiropractic setting typically involves an evaluation process to determine the best course of care. Our expertise is in delivering that care in a conservative fashion when reasonable.
I believe conservatism involves non-invasive, low-risk interventions or procedures. Examples include, of course, manipulation/mobilization/ adjustments, a variety of physical rehabilitation modalities and procedures (e.g., passive and active), acupuncture, dietary considerations, lifestyle/preventive strategies and psychosocial issues among others.
Any number of orthopedic, neurological and internal disorders is amenable to skilled conservative management directed by a chiropractic physician. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are also adept at making clinical decisions based on patient presentation (e.g., patient needs and expectations) and the evidence supporting a specific procedure and clinical experience. In that context, we understand when a conservative care pathway is in the best interest of the patient. Or we may determine that a more invasive treatment is indicated and make the appropriate referral: the best of both worlds, so to speak.
What’s interesting, at least during my experience over the past 31/2 decades of clinical practice, is that many patients arrive at the chiropractic office late in the process. They may have already exhausted the medical model of care, which often involves a variety of prescription medications, injections or perhaps surgery, often with little or no clinical benefit to the patient. That includes undergoing a battery of tests/imaging, which may or may not be necessary or indicated. Some of these problems are simple from our perspective and easily rectified through conservative chiropractic means.
As part of our mission and vision, ACA supports a paradigm shift toward a conservative care first approach to health care. Recent evidence has shown that when care of a particular condition is initiated by a DC, costs are reduced, outcomes are equal or better and patient satisfaction (experience) is higher. This equates to the “Triple Aim” of the Affordable Care Act.
Health care reform, according to its proponents, will shift health care toward that triple aim. The emphasis will be on wellness and prevention, and fee-for-service payments will likely become a thing of the past. This shift, however, will not occur as a result of governmental actions or intent. The shift can only come from a strong, mature profession willing to educate communities and states on the true benefits of a “Conservative Care First” approach.
Join ACA in celebrating chiropractic during the month of October. Talk to your patients and community and state leaders about the benefits of our brand of conservative care first health care.
Also make a commitment to join ACA for our annual National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC) in Washington, D.C. in February 2015. There will be time dedicated to visiting your members of Congress and a full slate of contemporary educational tracts to choose from. This is the perfect way to support your national chiropractic organization. Visit www.acatoday.org/NCHM.