What are you actually paying for when you go to a Chiropractor? Most patients, including chiropractors, would give the usual responses: adjustment, treatment, chiropractic care, etc. Some might even get more specific and say things like: “subluxation detection and correction” or even “to function at a higher potential.” How about when you go to a medical doctor, what are you paying for? A diagnosis, a prescription, a confirmation of your fears? These responses are all well and good and truthful. Some more than others. But the real thing you pay for when you go to a chiropractor, or any doctor for that matter, is their time.
Paying for ‘time’ is usually not the first thing you think about when you go to a chiropractor, but it is the foundation of a visit. I call it a ‘visit’ because a visit is defined as “spending time with someone for a particular purpose.” That is exactly what we do. We spend time with our patients for the purpose of chiropractic care. What we do within that visit: X-rays, neurological scans, adjustment, subjective findings and health recommendations, are all based on the framework of time. And our timeframe is based on quality, not quantity. Why is that? Because “things of quality have no fear of time.”
Why don’t I base my visit on something tangible such as an adjustment? For me, the patient does not equal an adjustment. Or an X-ray. Or a neurological test. When you are seeing the patient as just an adjustment, then you will undoubtedly start to see that patient as a commodity. This is because as a society we put a price to a product. The product, in this example, is an adjustment. If an adjustment is equal to a product and a product has a price, we start to put a price to the patient. I don’t want you to think that making money or putting a price to the adjustment is inherently wrong, but it should not be the chiropractor's first intention. A patient can equal a dollar sign, but a dollar sign shouldn’t equal a patient. The time-honored American phrase “Time is Money” has only fueled this distortion.
An adjustment doesn’t take that much time. It only takes only a few seconds to give an adjustment. If you bill per adjustment, potentially you could give a lot of adjustments in a day. Let’s say an adjustment on average, takes 5 seconds. There are 60 seconds in a minute, so you can potentially adjust 12 patients in a minute. There are 60 minutes in an hour, so you can potentially adjust 720 patients in an hour. The average workday is 8.5 hours. Taking a half-hour for lunch, you could potentially adjust 5,760 patients in a day. I know these numbers sound hyperbolic, but believe me, I am not the first chiropractor to make this calculation. In this example, do you think the 5,000th patient would get the same quality adjustment as the 100th patient?
What if you are a medical doctor writing prescriptions? Putting a pen to a tiny yellow pad doesn’t take much time either. The American population is over 320 million and 55% of that population is on a prescription drug. With 177 million people paying for prescriptions every day, is it any surprise that medicine is a multibillion-dollar industry? What do you think is driving this industry? Quality time or product quantity?
Frequently, new patients of mine are ashamed by the time they feel I “waste” on them during their initial exam. They are constantly apologizing for taking up so much of my time. Simultaneously though, they are highly appreciative of the fact that I spend the time with them. I’ve noticed that the greatest amount of gratitude occurs during the X-ray analysis. Many patients tell me that over the years they have had numerous X-ray films taken, but no other healthcare provider actually sat down with them and discussed in detail what was found on the image. I think these feelings of “time-shame” are in effect a spillover from their previous experiences within the medical model.
As doctors, we are here to serve. In my opinion, the patient doesn’t work for me and I don’t necessarily work for the patient. We work together to solve the problem. This is because service is “an act of helpful activity.” I like this definition because it uses the word ‘act’ twice. Health is a two-fold action.
- Jarek Esarco, D.C.
Dr. Jarek Esarco is a pediatric and family wellness Chiropractor. He is an active member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). The ICPA is an organization of chiropractic family practitioners dedicated to advancing public awareness and the family wellness lifestyle. Dr. Jarek also has post-graduate certification in the HIO Specific Brain Stem Procedure technique through The TIC Institute. Dr. Jarek is happily married to his wife Regina. They live in Youngstown, Ohio with their daughter Ruby.