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Treating Specific-Needs Patients in Your Medical Practice


How serving unmet patient populations can help you differentiate and market your practice.

There is a subset of patients that we all know exist, whom you can see the headlines in many places, who call themselves “real food eaters/paleo/primal life stylists.” What you may not know is that patients in this subset search specifically for practitioners “friendly” to their lifestyle to treat and consult with their families, including their children.

The real food/paleo/primalist lifestyle is simply about eating whole foods that provide better fuel for your body and avoiding processed, refined, nutrient-poor factory foods. In addition, some of the more die hard types among these real-food eaters avoid modern medicine and shun traditional physicians as being part of the wheel of “big pharma creating patients instead of making them well.”  They get plenty of sleep, play hard, and don’t sweat the small stuff. They also don’t avoid fat. They do avoid all processed and refined sources of carbohydrates (e.g., bread).

You may be scratching your head wondering what in the world this has to do with you or even this blog… so I’m here to tell you. This subset of the population is ever growing and if you have any interest in the way of real food, there is money to be made and patients to be seen by “paleo-friendly physician practices.” I had heard of the Real Food Movement 18 months or so ago but assumed that it was such a small number of people that it could have very little impact on a practice, and then bit by bit it pops up in day-to-day practices, in surveys, and now it is a large enough subset to warrant a second look.

A quick search online shows websites solely dedicated to helping patients find the practitioners in their area. Further snooping shows that the vast majority of the physicians are in fact doctors of chiropractic medicine (one out of 10 is MD/DO). Many of these patients are in fact looking for MDs or DOs for their family and our unable to find them.

Real food folks are looking for a physician who is:

1. Health conscious

2. Effective

3. Science-based

4. Sympathetic to the desire avoid mainstream prescription drugs by trying alternatives first

5. Will treat them like an equal partner, intelligent person, educated in medical matters, and invested in their treatmenIf these are concepts that you can get behind, then set the marketing wheels in motion. Let the community and the world know that you are real food friendly and watch your patients per day climb. 

Here are a few tips to organically market your open mindedness toward that lifestyle, which you can apply to any specialty lifestyle you are serving:

1. Get listed on the websites that are dedicated to helping these patients find “friendly” physicians. On your clinic’s website/blog/Facebook fan page/Twitter account, let the masses know that you are “real-food friendly.”

2. Add lifestyle questions beyond your typical “have you ever experienced any of the following?” to your new patients forms to get to know what your patients are doing. Follow up the form with actual conversation.

3. Most importantly, read, learn, and listen to the information that is out there and see if there is a way to incorporate these patients into your practice and genuinely help and understand their beliefs. The results could be that you increase your patient load, find new information to help you treat and manage your current patients, or you could decide that you now have a more effective argument to argue against your patients that are converting to this lifestyle. Either way, this lifestyle is growing and warrants a more in depth look to determine if you could grow your practice with these patients.

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