In an effort to provide chiropractors with helpful resources as restrictions begin to lift, we’ve decided to share our conversations with PulStar doctors about what they have done so far, and what they anticipate for their practices in the coming weeks.
In this first installment, we talked to an anonymous PulStar doctor. He is also a PulStar certified trainer with a passion for all things chiropractic, including practice marketing.
This chiropractor’s business is down a bit, but the doctor has had no layoffs, and is now seeing his business showing signs of coming back to previous levels.
Read more to see that passing through the pandemic has involved:
- Repurposing plastic gas pump mittens
- Wondering if being too safe can bring law suits
- Suggesting that open concept chiropractic offices may become a thing of the past
How has the pandemic affected your practice so far?
“My state has been ranked among states with the lowest per capita testing throughout the pandemic. The state has a May 15 start date for Phase 1 of reopening, that will allow a number of non-essential businesses to open back up. We’re around 30-35 percent lower than normal in April, but new patient numbers are still exactly where they were.
Our new patient’s biggest challenges are going home and overdoing yard work. Or sitting and doing desk work, messing up their backs at their dining room tables and stuff like that.
But our recurring maintenance care patient load is down, probably because most senior citizens haven’t left their houses. Luckily, we haven’t had to lay anyone off. We’re still above water. And, May is bringing a slow comeback.”
What have you done in your office to help keep patients at ease?
“We focused on having a safer environment in the office. Once we get that accomplished, it’s normal daily work.
We started doing things a week before they started the federal guidelines. The first thing we did was to stop using the prone or standup adjustment positions. We just started patients sitting so that their face wasn’t where everyone else’s face was. We also took away our iPads for check-in in the waiting room and started having new patients do consultations over the phone, instead of in the office. We actually had patients doing a lot more over the phone, including scheduling and payments.
We also got natural cleaning supplies that are soap-based to clean the therapy chair or the stand-up padding. We clean the PulStar tips with alcohol swab, and we got a big plexiglass divider for the front desk.
Now that the restrictions are easing up, we’ve gone back to the stand-up PulStar unit. We clean the spot where patients rest their heads extensively between each appointment. We’ve reintroduced the iPads for check-in.”
I ordered these disposable mittens, like the ones you see at gas stations, that patients can use on the iPads while checking in.
“We’re still doing consultations over the phone, and taking staff temperatures every day. Even though it’s not required, we’re wearing masks. We’ll do it this way until we reach our state’s Phase 2, at a minimum. There are no guidelines for anybody, so we’re just trying to keep people safe.”
Still, there may be a legal issue that could come from going too far for safety. I’ve asked myself, if we turn away a patient who sneezes (but not because of COVID-19) do we open ourselves up for law suits?
How do you think the chiropractic industry and the world in general will be as we return to normal?
“The people who have been locked up will be anxious. I expect we’ll be cleaning constantly … Every time a patient comes in, we’re trying to clean every single thing they come in contact with, and that’s not going to change any time soon.”
Open Concept” Chiropractic offices may be a thing of the past. Patients are really valuing the social distancing that comes with separate exam rooms.
“My staff and myself are also prepared to be patient with people being anxious and grumpy. I feel, as people are realizing everything takes longer—you wait in line to get groceries, it takes longer to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks, stuff like that—they are going to be grumpy.
But do I see business exploding? I don’t think it’s going to happen where Friday they ease the restrictions and Monday, we’re overloaded or anything like that. If someone is going to start going back to work, their life is going to get a lot more complicated. When people physically start going back to work, numbers won’t jump dramatically because they won’t have time.
I could see how, in 4-6 weeks, numbers might go up quite a bit, as people readjust.”
Is it useful to have a PulStar during COVID-19?
“It definitely helps. If you are a manual practice, you almost have to have every person laying face-down on the same table. That’s something I wouldn’t want to do as a patient. Because those normal adjusting tables have those dips where your nose goes in, and they’re not the easiest to clean.
The Pulstar is very easy to clean. You just wipe the pad down, swipe the tips with an alcohol pad and move on to the next person. Or they can just sit in a chair. Hygienically, the instrument is a lot better. You’re still touching the patient, but the logistics of patient placement are much better.”