ACA Today: Not the Same as Yesterday

During the 2016 ACA brand survey of ACA members, the question was asked: “If you were to write a new chapter for ACA, what would it be?”

One member’s response: “I’d like the ACA’s new chapter to be about the professional association that finally figured it out. One that finally rallied a community around evidence-informed health care practices and one that understood how public policy is influenced and what that means for the profession.”

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By David Herd, DC, ACA President

Nearly two years ago, ACA embarked on a new journey – a branding initiative – to better understand how we can relate to and remain relevant to members now and in the future. We hired a well-known branding consultant who reached out to members, non-members, other health care providers and a variety of stakeholders to ask what ACA means to them. After more than 30 hours of interviews, hundreds of survey responses and volumes of research, our consultant’s recommendations were presented to ACA’s Board of Governors last year on how best to redefine our brand. The results were a wake-up call, to say the least. I encourage all members to read this enlightening report.

While some of the information uncovered was expected, other findings and comments were uncomfortable to hear. But we had to hear them.

What did we learn?

We all know that our profession has a long history of intraprofessional fighting over treatment philosophies – many of those philosophies outside the realm of evidence-based medicine. But like the middle child in a dysfunctional family, ACA has tried to smooth things over just to keep the peace.

We also know that we’ve considered ourselves the underdog of the health care world – almost proudly so – and for too long have walked around with a chip on our collective shoulder that isolates us from the very public we’re trying to reach.

But what didn’t we realize – or at least want to accept?

We learned that chiropractic students, younger doctors and many other potential members out there are no longer living in that same past. They’re waiting in the wings for an organization like ACA to “finally figure it out” and reinvent itself with substance, a positive tone and clear language that will give the public clear expectations of, and greater confidence in, our members.

The brand study also reaffirmed what we already knew: that we have a huge opportunity to help patients suffering from back pain. The data supports this, as well. Spine-related disorders represent the single largest category of healthcare costs – more than oncology, more than women’s health, more than cardiology, and more than gastroenterology. Positioning ACA doctors as the first option for conservative treatment of back issues could begin to move us away from the alternative/complementary category, to a first choice, more mainstream option.

We also learned that our future will be secured by insisting on evidence-based treatment, not allowing for anything and everything. Our future will be more robust by attracting only the most professional and disciplined chiropractors. In time, those chiropractors who have been waiting for an organization to step up and lead the profession into the future will realize ACA is where they need to be and join our ranks.

How did we get to this dramatic new place?

The new brand was the last step of an extensive process of review, reflection and self-examination for ACA as an organization. It started in 2015 with a strategic review and a new association strategic plan. The brand strategy came out of that process. The objective was to develop a new story and a clear brand promise that will really mean something to members and patients – and in the process, help our association survive and thrive in the new health care landscape.

Where do we go from here?

In the rapidly changing world of health care, it’s time for us to change as well—perhaps in the most significant ways in our history.

There’s a modern movement in the chiropractic profession, and it’s being celebrated, propelled and defined by ACA members. Together, we will show the world that we are Hands Down Better™