The Numbers Game

Written by Billing Dynamix

Gregg Friedman, DC

Even though Chiropractic has been around since 1895, it’s still a pretty young profession, in the grand scheme of things.  While the rest of healthcare has embraced the use of numbers for years, chiropractic is still pondering the idea.

While numbers aren’t the “end all,” if used properly, they can be of enormous benefit to chiropractors and our patients.

When you go to a medical doctor, the visit often includes certain metrics of which they like to keep track:  height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, respiration.  Medical doctors often perform blood tests and a urinalysis on their patients, too, which helps them arrive at a diagnoses and enables them to track the metrics to see if the patient is improving or not with treatment. 

Even dentists use metrics.  I was fascinated a few years ago when a visited a dentist friend of mine for a deep cleaning.  His hygienist actually measured my gums and they were able to determine where I needed work and where I didn’t.

So what about us?  For all these years, chiropractors have relied on our patients telling other people how much better they feel with chiropractic.  But…

Numbers can make it even better.

It’s one thing to affirm that the patient is feeling better.  It’s another thing, though, to tell them that the intensity of their pain has improved by 18% and the frequency of their pain has improved by 24% since their previous visit.

Chiropractors have been saying for years that we improve people’s function.  We can take it even further by actually SHOWING our patients how MUCH we’ve helped them improve their function.  The easiest and fastest way to do this is with outcome questionnaires.

I saw you roll your eyes at me.

We’ve got to make this easier than it is now, though.  Some of you have been giving your patients the Neck Disability Index and Revised Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Index.  Let’s face it – your patients hate them and YOU hate them.  I haven’t used either of those questionnaires in about 20 years.  I switched to the Bournemouth Neck Questionnaire and the Bournemouth Back Questionnaire.  Why do I use these?  They’re only 7 questions each, which is 30% shorter and faster than the NDI and Oswestry, and they tend to be much easier and faster for patients to complete.  There’s a great headache questionnaire that I use that can track how much functional improvement my patients achieve with treatment.  There are outcome questionnaires for practically every musculoskeletal body part. 

Without overloading our patients with questionnaires, we can use the appropriate ones at the appropriate times and you’ll be amazed at how we can show how effective our treatment has been.  When I show my patients the actual quantitative and functional improvement, they get EXCITED!

If you want to get more referrals from medical doctors, we need to speak their language, which revolves around…NUMBERS.

If you want to solve the “medical necessity” argument for Medicare and other insurers, document METRICS.

If you want to show the world how effective chiropractic is at relieving pain and improving function, document METRICS.