Technology: Friend or Foe?

Posted by Dr. Michael Failla on 05/02/2012

Paperwork.  Administration.  Billing.  Employees.  Supplies.  Collections.  Equipment.  SOAP notes.  Insurance claims.  Legal issues.  These are the realities of a chiropractic practice, and we haven't even discussed the adjustment.  Did we all, prior to becoming chiropractors, tell our friends and colleagues that we had a burgeoning desire to open up a chiropractic practice so that we can dive right in to documentation, administration, and collections?  Of course not.  It is the patient, the one needing the adjustment, that drives our efforts.  And yet, even with our best intentions, the technology that can bring relief to these efforts presents its very own obstacles.


While software automation certainly represents the future of chiropractic practice management (and healthcare in general), there are still tens of thousands of paper-based practices.  Why?  Because even with all its promise, adopting new technologies can be daunting.

The Learning Curve
You’ve got a system in place.  And it works, regardless of a power outage or whether or not the Internet is “up.”  A paper-based practice may be slow, but the learning curve is zilch.  Anyone can shuffle paper, and many practices do just that.

Redundancies Abound
Those who have incorporated database-driven technology in their practice can find themselves doing even more work if they’re not set up correctly.  Having two or even three databases to maintain and keep current can in and of itself become quite the chore.  And, if one database has an address or name spelled slightly differently (Mrs. versus Ms. or St. versus Street), duplicate records can be the result, which can lead to reconciliation problems when updating records.

Garbage In/Garbage Out
Of course, no technology has ever been able to stop the “human element” from wreaking havoc on any software system.  Simply stated, if you put information in the “system” incorrectly, nothing good will come of it.  And, for those inexperienced in the use of technology, undoing the damage isn’t exactly as easy as using the old traditional eraser at the tip of a pencil.

Technology requires money, and is not free.   No matter what you read, hear, or see – it’s NEVER free.  And so cash, in one of its many forms, is needed to bring technology into a practice, and this for some is just not realistic.


Chiropractic is about one thing and one thing only:  the patient.  Providing the best patient care is the most critical aspect of any practice.  And if it isn’t, then the practice simply won’t survive.  And it shouldn’t.

The reality is this:  A chiropractic practice that has incorporated the right software automation into their practice will be able to better serve their patients, and even see more of them.

If You Don’t Like Change, You’re Going To Like Irrelevance Even Less

As chiropractors, it is our duty to minimize the administration of our practices while maximizing the care we provide our patients.  Software automation tools can empower our practices and help us get our hands off the paperwork and back on the patient.

Moving forward, and with the multitude of health care changes looming over us, automating the office is no longer an option, it's a necessity.  No doubt, there will be some that are pessimistic about the changes in EHR healthcare mandates from the federal government, as it's always easier to follow the path of least resistance.  But, taking a closer look, integrating a complete practice management system into a practice is the bridge to the efficiency we as chiropractors need to not only improve our patient care, but compete in the marketplace as well. 

Here are some of the features that software automation can help you with:s:

Streamlining the Signing-In Process at the Front Desk
Modern systems can allow patients to check themselves in by fingerprint, pin number, bar code scan or swipe card. All of these features are now available through automation to streamline a patient’s arrival. Patients can arrive, check themselves in and then have a seat in the waiting room until you are ready to see them, and even be called back to a room through an automated announcement system.

Total Patient Flow Management
From one screen on the computer, the right software helps staff manage the entire flow of the office. They can easily view the patient’s purpose of visit; their provider, who has arrived, who has checked-in, checked-out, who owes you money, and who is running late.

Patient Scheduling
Ssoftware can be set up to allow  several views so that your staff can easily keep track of  patients’ schedules. They can view past, present and future appointments with any patient all at once. Also, administrative notes and insurance information for each patient displays on the computer screen  within seconds.

Access to the Patient’s Entire File
Imagine seeing your  SOAP notes, procedure and diagnosis codes, treatment plan information and X-rays and scans within one touch-screen based system.

Appointment Reminders and Alerts
Having patient retention problems? Automatically send e-mail reminders to your patients of their upcoming appointments and TXT messages to their cell phones. You can also send alerts to your staff to remind them of  patient insurance expirations, new patient exams, or sale item suggestions. Why not let your software remember to remind your staff?

Patient Billing and Collection
One of the features that makes a software management system so attractive is automated  billing. Most chiropractic software systems have built-in electronic billing, as well as standard paper billing. This feature can save your office thousands of dollars every year in billing and collection costs. Systems can print monthly statements or use an e-mail system to remind your patients that their bill is due. They can also send out delinquency notices so that your office can collect past due payments.

Just as it is important to identify a software system that meets all of your needs, one must also look closely at the support that stands behind the software.  Along with robust training, pick a software company that partners with you and your staff every step of the way.  Do they have a dedicated support representative that is there for you when a question arises?  Do they offer access to an online community  consisting of other chiropractic offices that can readily help you with any questions or issues that may be encountered   Are they ONC-ATCB certified?

Truthfully, no doctor enjoys writing long chiropractic reports or creating SOAP notes.  Chiropractors are starting to realize the advantages of using automated software, and most doctors certainly would agree that their time could be better spent caring for more patients and tending to other important things, including getting a little rest and relaxation for themselves.

I hear many colleagues talk about the 'expense' of practice management software, and I immediately counter by asking them to consider the expense of NOT incorporating a fully-functioning practice management software into their offices.  Automation saves you  valuable time, energy, and staff.  You can quickly grow your practice without adding staff. Ultimately, how you and your staff spend your time is the most important consideration.  Time spent defines profitability, quality of patient care and the overall efficiency of the practice. Chiropractic office automation is designed to revolutionize your time-management inyour practice.. In our profession, change isn't coming—it's already arrived.  As a community, it's time that we embrace change, empower our practices with powerful automation tools, and ultimately improve the care we give to the patients whom we all collectively serve.

Dr. Michael Failla is the CEO and Co-owner of Integrated Practice Solutions, the makers of ChiroTouch. Dr. Failla graduated from Life University College of Chiropractic in Atlanta, GA and went on to run a highly successful chiropractic office in Seattle, WA,  for 25 years. He sold his practice in 2007 and continues to promote health and wellness by helping chiropractors run streamlined and successful practices with more time for their patients and less time with their paperwork. Go to for more information.

1 Comment

Louis Says:
June 8th, 2012 at 7:21 pm
I began care with Dr. Smith a year ago in April. Though I had been under chiropractic care preouvisly, my health had taken a plateau. My low back pain had become less frequent and less intense, but it was still there every few days. I also had started developing minor lower neck pain. My first adjustment under care was impacting. Not only did I feel an enormous sensation go out the top of my head, but i felt this ticklish feeling all the way down my body into my toes. It was such an unique experience. After 6 months of care, I discovered i had experience a silent miracle. During those six months I had been through the toughest part of my education, which kept me glued to campus 90 hours a week. In addition, there were countless other stresses that were weighing me down as well. After all of that, I discovered that I had NOT fallen ill ONCE during that time. To me this means a lot, because I use to get sick every other week. In fact growing up, I was known as Dr. Jessica because I would carry around a tackle box full of meds like Advil, Tylenol, Allegra, and Nyquil. I'd constantly find myself having some sort of allergy/cough/congestion going on, and it would happen in times of greatest stress. Amazingly, through specific chiropractic care I only became pain free, but also developed the strongest immune system I have ever had!
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