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November, 2010

How to Successfully Implement Nutrition in Your Chiropractic Practice

By Henri Rosenblum, DC

Recent statistics state that approximately 80 percent of all Americans take some form of nutritional supplement. Other data suggest that the majority of these vitamin takers know little about the products they take or why all nutritional products are not created equal. While the majority of people choose their vitamins from some fluff TV advertisement, magazine eye candy, or advice given by a GNC clerk or gym trainer, your patients absolutely would prefer and welcome information from you their health professional. As chiropractors, we are the natural choice to lead the ever-growing wellness revolution. Sharing important lifestyle information with your patients pertaining to all aspects of health and wellness, including recommendations on evidence-based, high-quality nutritional products is a wonderful complement to the necessary work you do to correct and realign their spines.

Let's consider how your patients will view your intentions and your integrity when you recommend nutritional supplements to them. Ask yourself these questions: Am I genuinely looking to improve my patients' health by recommending a high-quality nutraceutical based upon their present health conditions, or am I hawking a one-size-fits-all snake-oil product to make a few extra bucks? Do my family and I personally use with confidence the same products I recommend? Do I truly believe in the company whose products I endorse? Believe me, from your body posture and words, your patients will recognize the answer to these questions in an instant. We are doctors and should always strive to maintain a certain level of expertise, confidence and importance with our patients. It is for all these reasons that I recommend aligning yourself with a company and product line that does not make their products available for resale by anyone but health professionals. If we expect our patients to treat us with respect, than we must maintain ourselves in their eyes as such.

As doctors of chiropractic, we are all regularly approached by nutrition companies and their distributors imploring us to offer their line to our patients. They all claim to have the best products, training, customer service and compensation plan. Obviously, they can't all be the best. When selecting a line of nutrition for your office, before investigating the products, begin by looking at the company. Do they follow strict quality control regarding the manufacture of their products and have proof of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliance? Are their products regularly checked by third party agencies licensed to issue Certificates of Analysis (COA) that validate the products' purity and effectiveness. Does the company base their product formulas on the most current evidence-based scientific data that guides them to producing cutting-edge, effective nutritional products with a high absorption of nutrients, or do they produce inexpensive products that are easier to sell because they cost less, leaving you hoping that your patient won't know the difference?

Suppose you have aligned yourself with a company that inspires your confidence and produces quality science-based nutraceuticals. What is your strategy to get your patients to follow your recommendations? How will you convert them from their current brand (likely a cheap, ineffective supermarket-grade product), and get them to invest in their health at your office by following your recommendation to try a superior product that likely costs more?

In my office, we start by surveying all our patients. Our survey asks a few simple questions: Do you take nutritional supplements? What do you take? Who suggested them? Would you like a free consultation with our office nutrition expert to discuss wellness and prevention? The first three questions reveal basic information regarding the patient's present nutritional supplement intake. The last question determines whether or not we will follow through assisting this patient with their supplement needs or not. If the patient answers they don't want the free consultation, we don't spend our time trying to sell them something they don't want. If they answer yes, we have them meet with our nutrition person, who introduces them to our brand of products, ideally that day. This person can be the doctor, an office nutritionist or any properly trained staff member.

During the free consultation, we spend about three minutes explaining the shortcomings of most nutritional products, such as little to no absorption of nutrients, as well as the presence of binders, fillers, dyes and preservatives. We determine if their present supplements fall into this category. We then take another few minutes to explain our nutritional line, which is an isotonic-capable product that contains no impurities or fillers and delivers maximum absorption of quality nutrients. Finally, we make recommendations of which specific products they need to take. This entire consultation takes about 10 minutes. We find that about two out of three patients follow our recommendations. These patients receive their new nutraceuticals along with instructions on how to properly take them. They pay at the front desk before leaving.

The doctor's role in the entire success formula can be very involved by performing the consultations themselves. In a busy practice where the doctor has no extra time to spare, the role can be literally take a few seconds. At the end of the patient visit the doctor glances at the survey, looking for the yes at the end, then stating, "It's great that you are taking vitamins, Mary. I believe there is a right way and a wrong way. Judy will explain the difference." Mary goes with Judy who handles the rest.

Assuming Mary starts on the nutrition, Judy contacts Mary by phone the next day to insure that she has indeed started taking the new products. Mary's nutrition regimen is added to her travel card so that at her next visit, the doctor has complete knowledge of what she is taking. The doctor can ask Mary if she is taking her nutrition every day and discuss any impact the nutrition is making on her health. Additional follow ups by e-mail and phone greatly increase the likelihood that she will continue taking these specific products and re-order. In my office, most re-orders are easily placed by the patients themselves through my e-commerce nutrition Web portal. Products are shipped directly to the patient's home by the company, with the retail profit going directly into my bank account. The extensive information on my Web portal encourages patients to investigate additional quality products for themselves, a family member or friend, which leads to referrals. It doesn't get any easier than this.

In conclusion, offering nutrition at your practice can be a wonderful complementary service for your patients and a great source of cash income. With the right company, you can easily integrate and implement systems that require no additional staff, equipment, space or office hours. Capitalization for enough product to get started should be about $1,000 or less and that should be recouped within two to three weeks. The final outcome will be satisfied patients and a low-stress, secondary cash income stream for you.

Dr. Henri Rosenblum is a 1988 Honors Graduate from Palmer Chiropractic College. He taught clinical sciences at Life Chiropractic College from 1999-2001. He presently directs the POWER ON Wellness Center in Port Jefferson Station, New York. He can be contacted at .

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