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February, 2010

Keep It Simple When Selecting Therapy Equipment

By DCPI Staff

Choosing the right therapy equipment to have in your office can be daunting. It just might possibly be one of the biggest investments you will make in your practice. So then, how do you select which equipment will not only best benefit your patients, but give you the best return on that investment? We surveyed a number of leading experts in the therapy equipment field to see what they felt were the top considerations DCs must make in selecting which equipment to have in their practice.

Physician, Know Thyself

So you've decided to include therapy equipment in your practice. You know you want something that will work for you in terms of cost, space considerations, patient compliance, and even for return on your investment. Well, now comes the hard work. Our experts agree that the first part of what goes into selecting the right equipment is doing your due diligence by knowing yourself, your practice and your patients.

Brad Feldner, DC, director of consulting for Fitness Plus, Inc. (www.fitnessplusinc.com), based in Valley City, ND, equates due diligence with being properly prepared to serve many different rehab needs. As he says, "It is important for doctors to invest wisely and research carefully as they enhance their practice through a cost-effective mixture of low- and medium-tech rehabilitation equipment. There are many companies selling rehab equipment, so please make sure you do your due diligence as you research what will be the best fit for you."

Joseph Mannella, DC, CEO of the Disk Institute (www.midiscinstitute.com), in Clinton Township, Mich., feels that due diligence involves an understanding of how easy or difficult it will be to implement a rehab program. In many cases, this means first understanding how you wish to use the rehab equipment. "First and foremost, the doctor must determine what kind of patients he/she is inspired to help and specifically what conditions will be treated in that patient group or groups. Once that is crystal clear, an investigation of all treatment modalities should be studied that deal with those conditions. There can be a wide range of equipment and a wide range in the cost of the equipment."

Education is Key

You can have an office loaded with top-notch therapy equipment, but it won't do you any good if you or your patients don't understand how to properly use any of it. So the second step in the selection process is to properly educate yourself on how to use the equipment for the best possible results. The more you know about the benefits of the equipment, the more you have to share with your patients.

Dana Mackison, DC, Director of Education for Chiropractic and Podiatry at Performance Health/Hygenic Corporation (www.thera-band.com), a resistance-equipment manufacturing company based in Akron, Ohio, explains to Dynamic Chiropractic PracticeINSIGHTS that it all comes down to selecting a company that provides top-notch product support and education. He elaborates, "Choose to work with companies that provide thorough product support and education. "

Feldner agrees, noting that physicians must be committed, not just to the equipment, but to understanding the entire rehab program. He explains, "I truly believe DC's will not come close to their own capacity if they do not understand how to best utilize their rehab programs while leading by example.

"If a doctor or their team members could not show you how to best perform an exercise, would you keep paying your hard-earned money to receive their expertise and recommendations? Whatever equipment you choose, it is an absolute must that you train yourself and your team on each and every item until you become extremely efficient. If you do not follow a step-by-step process, your retention, referrals, results and your overall success will be limited. The therapy equipment alone will not reinvent your practice. Your thorough focus and training on the complete rehab program will allow for the most success," Feldner said.

Mannella also feels that physician education is key, noting that committing to use of the therapy equipment makes a big difference in retaining patients: "Who will be running the new therapy, who will be trained on it, how will it change the flow in the office, and how committed you are to finish what you start? Often times, a doctor will really get the excitement up about a new therapy or piece of equipment and really get the patients excited in this new possibility, only to trash the whole thing later. This leaves a real question in the patient's mind. Why was it great before, but now there are excuses why we don't use that anymore? The patients will lose trust in the office if equipment is hyped up and then not used. So you must commit to it 100%."

He adds that you should not be afraid to consult your colleagues. "Find out from other doctors how they love or hate the equipment. Do not rely on the manufacturer of the equipment," Mannella said.

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