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Sept. 20 2006 12:00 AM

            Within a clinical setting, there are normally a fixed number of ways to earn revenue. Typically these are limited to those things that a doctor or therapist can "do to or for" someone, making them rather finite and limited. But with a little research, imagination and concern for your patients, there are many possibilities that you are probably overlooking. This is one of the most important things, financially speaking, that I have learned during my career.  I have been able to create multiple streams of revenue in a clinical setting that are synergistic and do not necessarily require the time of the doctor or key therapists.

            One thing that always fascinated me was that a certain percentage of health professionals believe it is somehow "unethical" to "sell" products to their patients. I come from the other end of that argument and say that it is unethical only if you sell them something they don't really need or charge more than the market conditions will allow. But in the big picture, it is not only ethical but necessary for the health professional to play a role of someone who can protect their patient from products that are unsafe or have unsubstantiated claims.

            We all know our patients are bombarded with multi-level marketing products and media advertising that lead them to believe that retail products are appropriate and safe for them, but the truth is they may not be. How, for instance, would an MLM nutrition product be screened for potential drug-nutrient interactions or be deemed safe for a set of genetic variations or preexisting conditions or an number of other complex decisions that need to be made to determine safety and appropriateness for an individual? The short answer is that it can't. The need for quality control and safety screens has never been greater.

            In my office, we have several "parallel profit centers" that achieve several things for us. They help us to help our patients first of all, but while doing that, they also help us achieve a unique identity in the community and create additional revenues that most health care facilities never realize.

            Here are some ideas for types of products and equipment that can create parallel profit centers:

            Health care software has come a long way in the past few years. There is software available, which is especially important in this day and age of pharmaceuticals, that can analyze a patient's current health situation along with medication for safety and quality-controlled nutrition recommendations. These software programs can screen for drug-nutrient syndromes, drug-depletion and diet, lifestyle and genetic variations to determine supplements that are safe. As a health professional, I think it is negligent to leave any of those criteria to chance when the safety of your patient (not to mention your license) is on the line. This is a must-have tool for health professionals who wish to offer high-quality service.

            Another type of software that is very helpful allows for comprehensive health and fitness assessments. The information provided can be central to the evaluation process as it allows us to widen the scope of not only what we learn objectively about the patient, but the level of distinction and care ' that we engage them in thereafter. If we assess everything form a biomechanical perspective only, it's a bit of a leap to attempt to engage that patient in the diet and lifestyle intervention they most likely need. Paint the scenario of a 350-pound patient with low back pain. What's the best thing you can do for him? "Fix" his back or engage him in a course of education and therapy that will help him biomechanically, lose weight and strengthen "core" muscle groups? If, like me, you believe it's the latter, then you need the assessment tools to first create the context for this expanded type of therapy you are recommending and then effectively monitor the patient's progress.

            Proactive stress management programs are a great investment that you can use on many patients. Nothing is more nebulous than the idea of stress. After all, we can't see it or measure it right? Not true! Certain computer programs have a pulse monitor that measures Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and displays the results. HRV correlates to current blood-cortisol levels, which is an accurate measure of physiological stress in an individual (and the hormone responsible for the damaging effects of stress). Simple "paced-breathing" techniques are then recommended, and immediate graphic feedback is provided that teaches the patient how to control stress and therefore blood-cortisol levels. Best of all, research shows that when the patient becomes "entrained" with this technique (through practice) that even very stressful circumstances tend not to raise blood-cortisol levels, which means that they eliminate many of the harmful effects of stress.

            Armed with the new products, all health care professionals can be well on their way to transforming a facility into the wellness center of tomorrow, attracting a wider array of clients, including corporations as providers of the type of diet and lifestyle counseling they desire for employees.


            Richard Perryman, D.C. is the founder of Opinion Leaders, a new practice and fitness consulting organization specializing in the implementation of integrated, multidisciplinary operating systems into current health care facilities and fitness clubs. Dr. Perryman is also the founder of Health Coach Corporate Wellness Centers, which has become a model for integrated, wellness-based practice delivering Web-based health assessment and promotion programs to over 500,000 individuals in Arizona and California through employee benefit programs and corporate wellness initiatives. You can contact Opinion Leaders at 800.818.7170.


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