Reaching out to other segments of the population

By Terry A. Rondberg, DC

It’s no wonder that the medical and pharmaceutical industries have such a lock on the health care system — people are brainwashed from childhood to “visit your doctor.”  Regardless of age, color, religion or other socioeconomic factors, going to an MD for anything from checkups to cancer “care” is accepted as the norm.Reaching Out - By Dr. Terry A. Rondberg

Until recently, non-medical alternative health care providers haven’t done a lot to reach out to the broadest spectrum of the population. We’ve tended to focus our attention on those people who either have enough money to pay cash for our services, or who have good insurance plans.

That explains why a University of Michigan Health System study found that, while 1 out of 3 patients with chronic pain reported using complementary and alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic visits for pain relief, most of these patients were older white adults.

According to lead author Carmen R. Green, MD, the reason for this usage pattern is either that alternative care therapies usually attract individuals with higher education levels and income or there are significant differences in insurance coverage.

She also noted that older people tend to have to deal with chronic pain more often than younger people, so they’re more likely to seek alternative therapies. Personally, I also think that older people have learned through experience that medical treatment is often ineffective and risky.

The study, published in Pain Medicine, focused on chiropractic or physical therapy procedures, biofeedback, and acupuncture.

Of the 5,750 adults tracked over a six-year period, 35% reported using at least one form of complementary and alternative medicine therapy with 25% using “manipulation techniques,” 13% using biofeedback, and 8% acupuncture.

Those of us involved in “alternative medicine” must continue reaching out to the general public so we can increase the 35% figure overall, but we also need to make concerted efforts to get our message to those segments of the population that are underrepresented in our patient base: younger people, people of color, and those at the lower economic levels.

Remember this whenever you give a community talk, put photos on your website, place ads in local publications, or create public information material.

If we all do that, in time we’ll be reaching the majority of people in every socioeconomic group, and medicine and drugs will become the “alternative” to US!

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I agree. When I opened my practice early this year I was worried about attracting to many “poor” people who wouldn’t be able to pay. But I’ve found that if they come to my office, they really must be committed to health, and they find a way to pay for my services, even if I have to discount them a bit. And they aslo tend to tell their friends and family about me more then most paitents. They need us and we need them.

Great Post, Dr. Rondberg.

Great article again Terry

Great article. It is extremely unfortunate that over the last decade, the travel industry has had to deal with terrorism, SARS, tsunamis, influenza, swine flu, as well as first ever entire global recession. Through all this the industry has really proven to be sturdy, resilient plus dynamic, getting new ways to deal with trouble. There are often fresh complications and the possiblility to which the industry must once again adapt and act in response.

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