Rallying For Chiropractic
British Columbia Chiropractors Work To Move The Profession Forward
By Brenda Duran
The west coast province of British Columbia is home to approximately 4.4 million people, half of which have tried chiropractic at least once in their life.In the past few decades, chiropractic has taken center stage in British Columbia (BC) and has received greater inclusion into the overall healthcare system, and today many are hoping for even greater progress and a greater reach.
"Chiropractic has a good future here in BC. We see the government coming to us, and we have become an equal member of healthcare now it is a matter of time until we become fully equal members of healthcare," said Dr. Jay Robinson, BSc, DC, president of the British Columbia Chiropractic Association (BCCA).
One way to accomplish some of these growth goals is with the help of chiropractors in the province.
The BCCA currently has 1,100 members who routinely participate in a variety of initiatives aimed at bringing awareness to the benefits of chiropractic to the general public. The effort has proved to pay off in more ways than one and has also brought chiropractors closer to setting new agendas for the future.
A Part of the Community
When it comes to getting involved in the community, chiropractors in British Columbia have made sure to step up to the plate. Many have learned the key to bringing in more patients is outreach and more outreach.
One of the noteworthy campaigns that has set them apart in the community is the "Pack it Light, Wear it Right" campaign, which remains a core program supported by BC chiropractors.
The campaign runs every year during the back-to-school season and works to remind children, parents and educators about the benefits of proper backpack use. In 2012, complimentary online resources were sent to 1,800 BC elementary and secondary school with many following up for paper copies or requests for a chiropractic speaker, said Robinson.
The campaign also received an additional boost in 2012 thanks to an ongoing partnership with the Salvation Army.
"That was the first year that the BCCA committed to providing 5,000 quality backpacks for kids in need through the non-profit's annual backpack and school supply drive," said Robinson.
Each of the bags were stuffed with school supplies courtesy of the other program partners. They also contained Pack it Light, Wear it Right backpack safety information so that each child could use their new backpack safely.
"As a result of the combined efforts, backpacks were distributed to 1,000 children on Vancouver Island, 500 kids in Northern BC, 1,500 students throughout the Okanagan, 1,563 children in the Lower Mainland and 642 BC kids who attended Salvation Army summer camps," said Robinson who was also able to also promote the program to the Global TV evening news.
This success in BC has drawn the attention of other provinces including chiropractors in Newfoundland and Labrador who are working on similar programs.
Other initiatives that have proven to be a huge success for chiropractors in BC include the "Think Twice, Lift Once" program, which aims to raise awareness for back health, especially as it relates to workplace injuries. This is a joint partnership through the BCCA and WorkSafeBC. Acklands- Grainger (AGI) locations throughout the province help in communicating the message to their staff and customers. AGI is Canada's largest distributor of industrial, safety and fastener products with 180 branches coast to coast.
According to Robinson, each year, the BCCA also produces promotional products for use and distribution at the AGI store level. These materials include staff shirts, mugs, banners, pens, stickers, badges and the program's hallmark branded packing tape. The Think Twice, Lift Once logo is printed on the tape and used by the AGI staff to seal all customer shipments for a given period. Naturally, when staff or customers pick up the box, they are reminded of the message to lift correctly. In addition, AGI staff hand out brochures and display posters to convey the idea of Think Twice, Lift Once with customers and employees.
"This has been very successful. It is promoting safety in the workplace and helping people so they don't get hurt," said Robinson. "We have been extremely successful with getting workers back to work safely."
As a result of a robust retail program, several retail customers requested "Back Talks" at their place of business. Heli-one, Domtar, Lafarge Cement and several other employers invited BCCA Executive Director Dr. Don Nixdorf in to present safety and awareness messages to their workers. These talks are tailored to each industry and specific job duties.
Robinson sees this type of collaboration as being one of the most significant and successful ones for chiropractors in the region.
"This the kind of thing chiropractors 10 years ago would have never seen," he said. "Big insurance companies giving us money to work together and do joint advertising."
The Road Ahead
Along with the many successes that chiropractors in BC have experienced through their outreach, there also remains a number of challenges that are worth noting.
Robinson said currently there are a large number of chiropractors in BC who have chosen to pursue popular business marketing plans that involve chiropractors signing up patients to long-term care plans when there is no evidence that they will require a long term care plan.
This has played out to be one of the most significant challenges to chiropractors in the province as they try to build a positive image among patients.
"One of the most significant challenges to chiropractic in BC are chiropractors themselves," said Robinson "The public has an extremely negative opinion of the business practices of a number of DC offices. In specific the public has singled out treatment contracts and are leaving chiropractic care in alarming numbers in favor of other health care professions that do not engage in these types of billing arrangements."
Robinson said this has put BC chiropractors in a place where they have to deal with how they are going to manage this incorrect perception.
"The public is now voting with their feet, and they hate it," said Robinson. "The public perceives that a quarter of chiropractors do this, and they don't but it's the public perception so they are leaving. We can't control business practices. But we can help chiropractors understand the negative impact."
Another very real challenge for chiropractors in BC also involves overcoming the resistance of family medical doctors including chiropractic in their patients' care.
"Over the past 20 years it has changed more ambivalence and we need to change that. We are way past where hostility should be there is enough data to support our profession and patients should know what the best choices are," said Robinson.
As chiropractors in the province move toward building a positive reputation, they are also pushing to incorporate acupuncture into their scope of practice and looking to get referral rights for X-rays, both are ongoing process.
At this time, a chiropractor in BC can shoot his own X-rays, but he has to charge the patient for it independently and has no ability to prescribe an X-ray and have socialized medicine pay for it. Patients need up to two visits to a medical doctor to get a free X-ray.
Although chiropractic is a preferred health care provider for both WorkSafeBC (Workers Comp) and ICBC (the Provincial Auto Insurance Company) these challenges prove to be real barriers for greater inclusion into the Canadian healthcare system.
Robinson noted that chiropractic still has many opportunities to grow in the province, especially when it comes to locations and the people that are served.
According to a recent poll taken by the BCCA, currently about 24 percent of people in all of the province see their chiropractor each year. This has prompted the BCCA to set a goal to reach more people by helping chiropractors move outside of the metropolitan areas of Vancouver and spread more chiropractic services in other parts of the province that are in need.
"Vancouver has economic challenges for chiropractors. It is very expensive and there are staggering costs to put up an office. This is dramatically different in other parts of the province," said Robinson. "We tend to have the bulk of the chiropractors in a few places and this poses a problem for the profession in the province, so our efforts have been to spread out chiropractic in the next 5-7 years to get more established evenly in the province."