COVID-19: Q&A with Dr. Sanna of Breakthrough Coaching
Dr. Mark Sanna is a practice management consultant who works with chiropractic practices across the country to help them deliver the highest quality patient care possible. For him and professionals like him, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both the vulnerabilities and unique strengths of chiropractic care.
Here, Dr. Sanna discusses the best advice he’s given chiropractors during the pandemic, the importance of telehealth communication right now, and what practices can do to prepare for an inevitable post-pandemic rush.
Q: As someone who chiropractors look to for advice, has the nature of your advice had to change substantially during the pandemic?
Dr. Mark Sanna: There’s been a lot of changes happening at a very quick pace that’s impacting how chiropractors can deliver healthcare during the pandemic. So as a consultant, we have to be on the front line in getting the information, digesting the information, and vetting the information properly to make sure that our clients are getting the correct advice.
But also, I want to ensure that our clients maintain a positive mindset during this time. With so much misinformation out there, with so much fear, it’s really important for the chiropractor and the chiropractic team to be a safe place — a place where patients can come and have a sense of calm. That’s something that people will really remember. They’re going to remember that you were there for them and how you made them feel.
Making sure that they stay positive during times that could frighten all of us, frankly, is really important.
Q: In what ways have you seen chiropractors using telehealth? How would you suggest that they use it?
MS: It’s impossible to give a chiropractic adjustment through Zoom, right? But understand that there are patients who do have pain that can be helped through stretching, through exercise, through self-care that can be directed by the chiropractor on a video call.
On video, patients can see a chiropractor, have them walk through their options, and then make an educated decision about whether they need to go into the practice or can manage at home.
Telehealth is something that is absolutely expanding in chiropractic practices and probably will be part of chiropractic practices going forward. It’s a super valuable tool right now while many patients are still sheltering at home and in some cases, for the elderly especially, patients aren’t able to come into chiropractic practices for care for safety reasons.
So teaching them [chiropractors] the rules of how to properly do telehealth and making sure that they follow HIPAA standards and that they know how to code appropriately for that has been an important thing.
Q: What are some steps chiropractors can take to ensure that their patients and staff feel safe within the office?
MS: Most chiropractors keep very very strict hygiene standards anyway in their practices. At this point in time, you want to be absolutely conspicuous about that hygiene. In other words, wiping down the chiropractic tables between patients and letting patients see that you’re doing that. Do not have a reception room filled with patients who aren’t sufficiently socially distanced.
Space patient appointments appropriately, so that patients are able to come in and receive care with minimal exposure to other patients.
Social distancing is not something that would happen in typical, busy chiropractic practices during normal times. These are things we want to do to let patients know we’re taking the extra effort to monitor the health of our staff, to monitor the health of our patients.
Monitoring temperatures of patients is also vitally important. Posting signage that if patients have symptoms, they should contact their physician and they should not come into the practice. Most chiropractors are now wearing gloves and masks so that they’re protecting their families and themselves as well.
All of these safety precautions have allowed chiropractors to be able to keep practicing and delivering the essential service of chiropractic care.
Q: Have the chiropractors you advise tried any innovations or approaches to garner new revenue streams during the pandemic?
MS: You know, right now is not really the time to be revenue focused or practice growth-focused. Now is the time to be practice maintenance focused, staying in touch with your current patient base. Now is not the time to do an additional advertising campaign or doing specials to come in and generate additional revenue.
Right now the idea is not so much to be expanding revenue. It’s more of a time to be thinking about protecting your practice capital, decreasing your overhead, making sure that you’re filling in any gaps with the funding that the federal government is making available, and preparing your practice for when we come out of this. This is an excellent time to prepare your marketing for the fall, or for when we come out of this.
How can chiropractors prepare their practices and their patients for life after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic?
MS: When this pandemic is over, there is going to be a very large demand for chiropractic services. So, prepare for that by walking through your practice and measuring things out. See what the distances are. How will you be able to increase patient volumes while still maintaining safe social distances and excellent hygiene in the practice? Those are the things to be doing now. Now’s a great time to do record maintenance or HIPAA audits.
I recommend very much the use of video conferencing for chiropractors not only to have the telehealth component but just to connect with their patients. Having the ability to do a health lecture or health seminar to patients, that’s a wonderful thing right now.
for chiropractors not only to have the telehealth component but just to connect with their patients. Having the ability to do a health lecture or health seminar to patients, that’s a wonderful thing right now.
We’re really emphasizing the use of technology right now. Do a Facebook live for your patients so that people know, hey we’re here. We’re thinking about you. It goes a long way.
Q: What’s one thing you would say to any chiropractor who is struggling or confused right now?
MS: I am so incredibly proud of the chiropractors and the chiropractic team members who have, despite the considerable risk to their own health and safety, treated patients every day throughout this pandemic. They are brave. They are inspiring. And I know that their patients are going to remember when this pandemic is gone that they were in the office for them when they needed them. And that’s going to be a connection that’ll last way beyond this period right now.
So, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to those docs who have been in there treating patients and going home exhausted. Chiropractic has shown its true colors during this time, and what a wonderful profession it is that we have.
About Dr. Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC:
Many people go through life and never experience their true calling. Dr. Mark Sanna is one of the few to find his absolute life’s work. Dr. Sanna is the president of Breakthrough Coaching an international health care practice management consulting firm that teaches an outcome-based, functionally-oriented system of procedures that focuses on preparing healthcare professionals to become the providers driving healthcare reform.
He is a Fellow of the International College of Chiropractors, a Foundation for Chiropractic Progress board member, and the Finance Committee chairman for the Chiropractic Summit. He recently published his latest book, Break Through the Insanity. The fourth book in his Breakthrough Series.
Are you interested in learning more?
To get more information on how to prepare your chiropractic practice for post-COVID-19, download this guide, Navigating Chiropractic Practice Management After COVID-19, to learn the best ways on how to ready your business.