For the last 2 years I have been thinking about the ability to be mobile; to have both a live practice as well as a virtual one. The problem is I am a chiropractor and by definition I practice with my hands. (chiro-hands, practis- to do).
So how do you practice virtually when you need to use your hands on people?
I realized recently that maybe the answer to this question is not an issue of practicality but rather identity.
For those of you who are patients, you know that my methods involve multiple facets; chiropractic adjustments to improve your neurologic function, muscle and soft tissue work to retrain the soft tissue, nutritional support and supplements, and some neuro-emotional work to round it all out. I have been committed to this methodology since I started many many years ago.
It's how I do things. It's what makes me unique. It's who I am.
And maybe that's where the problem lies. My reluctance to be OPEN to a new idea because I am CLOSED OFF by being committed to an old one.
Let me explain...
The story of pho
My story with pho demonstrates, for me, how I have tried to remain open my whole adult life. I first ate the Vietnamese noodle dish, pho, when I was about 18 years old.
It was amazing and still is. However, I couldn't really get into the meatballs. Every time I tried it, I didn't really like it. So, I would eat everything but leave the meatballs.
The funny thing was I never ordered it WITHOUT the meatballs. Strange.
I realized, later, that when you went to different restaurants, the flavors were totally different. It was still good but different. So I guess I thought, maybe the meatball would taste different at a different restaurant?
Most of the time that was not the case and I would leave another bowl of pho empty except for the meatballs. But every now and then, whether I was in a strange mood or maybe the meatballs were actually different, I enjoyed them.
Today, I still order pho with the meatballs and most of the time I leave a bowl with meatballs floating lonely in a small puddle of broth.
This lesson would become the basis of my talk to my kids that they should continue to try something that they didn't like because you never know if you may suddenly enjoy it.
My kids order pho with JUST THE MEATBALLS!
The basic lesson is to allow yourself to stay OPeN to new opportunities for change and not close yourself off because of past experiences.
But that is exactly the opposite of what I am doing when it comes to my practice!
Why am I so dogmatic about this?
Could it be because I am fearful of change?
Am I hanging on to this identity because in my mind it is an existential crisis of who I am and my worth?
That's what I have been thinking.
And my story with pho has taught me that is NOT who I am.
Shifting my identity
So, how do I practice virtually?
What I am thinking about is the separation of my identity to be my live practice and my online practice. I am fortunate to have been curious enough a long time ago to try to better understand physiology and nutrition.
That is the basis of functional medicine.
Functional medicine at it's core (according to me) is the practice of trying to best support the optimal "function" of the various systems in your body to achieve better health. It is that improvement in function that alleviates our common symptoms.
To put it simply:
Current healthcare model: symptoms=doctors visit=drugs to alleviate symptoms.
This model is ineffective because it does not 1). get to the cause of the symptoms, and 2). does not promote health because you are only alleviating symptoms.
Functional medicine model: symptoms=identify dysfunctional systems that led to the symptoms=nutrition and supplements (lifestyle changes) to repair dysfunction=improved function= alleviate symptoms.
This model identifies the cause of the symptoms AND promotes sustainable lifestyle changes that improve overall health.
I have historically been connecting all the parts together as THE model for the O Institute.
But what if I allowed myself to work virtually on just the nutritional and lifestyle portion?
Be more of a coach.
Could I make an impact on peoples' lives and wellbeing by just doing that?
I think the answer is yes and I think I could help more people in a greater geographic area because they would not have to come to my office in Bellevue, WA.
Here is what I am thinking:
create a new page on our website or just create a whole new separate website.
embed testing site options so that people can gather the preliminary information about their health that we need to figure out what systems need the most support, e.g. microbiome test, vitamin D and omega 3 status.
sign up with a company that will allow potential clients to upload their data and history, answer some intake questions, etc.
create an account on something like Fullscript to give clients a more comprehensive supplement offering and ease of use. Apparently it also allows me to make protocols. Nice!
sign up with an online client records management company so we can keep track of progress and that information can be easily accessed and shared with the client.
sign up with an online scheduling system to automate virtual appointments.
That could work, right?
What am I missing?
I'm sure a lot. lol.
But better to get the ball rolling and figure it out along the way than to sit and overthink something to death, literally.
I would love your input and advice on all this.
I wonder how I can keep you all connected to it while a struggle through this whole process...
You may ask, why do I want to do this?
Well, first of all, it is not my attempt to stop seeing patients live.
It is about flexibility.
Some of you know that I have been dreaming of being able to take time off during my sons baseball season and be able to follow him around on some of his games during the season.
But if I am not working, I am also not making any money so take makes my time options limited. ( I still have to pay for college you know? and take care of my girls!)
However, if I can take appointments virtually with clients, I can do that from anywhere. This would allow me some flexibility for the 2+ months out of the year when my son is in season.
That's the dream.
One patient expressed to me that it would not work with my existing patients because they expect a high touch care plan.
I guess I would agree with that.
Plus, I just enjoy spending time with y'all so much that this would not be a replacement.
But think about all the people we could serve by being virtual.
In my fantasy about it, I could help so many more people because when working with functional medicine models, I don't have to see people so often and can follow up like once a month. That would amount to like hundreds of people a year!
And satisfy my selfish desire to go across the country to watch baseball. ;-P