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Sep 16, 2016

Alternative Medicine: How Real Is Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine and Chiropractic?

by Dr. Dan Kalish

Why practitioners fail!

Dr. Lorne Brown has become a close colleague of mine, I respect his work highly and all that he does to support the acupuncture community through the company’s he’s founded, Pro D Seminars and Medigogy as well as his yearly conference which I’ve attended, the Integrative Fertility Symposium. He’s focused for many years on treatments for fertility and has brought his business and entrepreneurial skills to bear, not just on education for natural health care practitioners, but also on the issues around business development that are key to surviving in practice. His new book is excellent, it’s titled Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail and what they Need to Know to Succeed. ( In truth, I actually read it cover to cover twice!

The Challenge: Alternative Medicine

It’s a challenge to have a career in alternative medicine. We are the, you got it – alternative. The alternative to more mainstream treatments out there. Much of the public questions the basics, wondering do chiropractic methods work and what, if any, chiropractic science exists to validate the treatments offered. Is acupuncture real? You can’t see the “chi” or energy flowing. It’s hard to measure and acupuncture science is shrouded in 5,000 years of Chinese medical history. The whole concept of alternative medical science makes us slightly suspect to begin with. I know before I had a positive experience with a chiropractor I was very skeptical. When I was 24 years old I had a major problem, if I tried to drive a car at night I would get headaches that were so severe I would have to pull over and basically ended up unable to drive a car. Big problem for a young man with a very fast Alfa Romeo! It seemed to be triggered from focusing near and far, and obviously I thought I needed glasses. Just as I had made my appointment with the eye doctor a friend told me about a chiropractor that might be able to help. Thinking this is pretty silly, but I’m up for anything I went. After one treatment my vision corrected itself and I never had another headache. The chiropractor was a cranial expert and he simply adjusted by frontal bone and my right eye socket shifted enough, taking the pressure off the nerves or whatever it did and boom, problem solved. Turns out I’d had a major head injury and the repositioning of the cranial bone was all I needed. This convinced me there was something to alternative medicine indeed. Over the years as I started my own practice and became more and more convinced through personal experience that these treatments work, I began to realize that many heart centered and well meaning alternative doctors could barely run their business. As good as their clinical skills were and as much human suffering as they were eliminating, the lack of business skills had a negative impact on their ability to deliver care. Dr. Brown’s book looks at the reasons practices fail and what you can do about it!

How to Succeed in Practice

Excerpt of Dr. Lorne Brown’s interview below: “I wrote the book ‘Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail’ for my colleagues. Here the title is ‘Why Functional Medicine Practitioners Fail.’ Basically these are universal concepts that work for any business, because they’re what make entrepreneurs successful whether you’re in medicine or in a business. A little background about myself: I’m not just a doctor of Chinese medicine but I have entrepreneurial and business background. I have my clinic Acubalance. I invest annually over $8000 in coaching, so I really take it seriously to improve myself. I’m a CPA as well so I have the business background, so I have both the business and medical backgrounds.

Basic Business Skills

It‘s not because you’re an acupuncturist or a naturopath or a chiropractor that you’re failing. You guys are a different group. We fail because we’re small businesses. In general, small businesses fail because due to a lack of resources, both financially and people power. When you’re a small business, you may not have the money to hire the right people or to pay for the things you need to be successful. You as the doctor are the receptionist, you’re also the janitor, the marketer, the web guy. It’s difficult for small businesses to be successful because of a lack of resources, financially as well as people power. Add to it that you’re a healthcare provider and you’re in denial that you’re in business. That makes it that much worse. This is not debatable; you are in business because you are giving a service and receiving money in return. There’s your definition of being in business. You’re not a not for profit, you do want to make more than you pay out. If you’re in denial that you’re in business, then it’s that much tougher to be successful when you’re not aware that you’re running a business. This sometimes is the biggest eye-opener for many people.

Your Attitude

It all starts with attitude. The fundamental thing for successful entrepreneurs is they have the right attitude and philosophy. Your thoughts are so important to your success. If you have a negative relationship with money, it’s difficult to attract something that you’re subconsciously repelling. In the acupuncture world and some naturopaths feel really guilty for accepting fees for their services from patients. If that uncomfortable feeling comes up when you collect money from your patients, then you have a negative relationship with money.”
Dr. Dan Kalish

Dr. Dan Kalish

Founder of the Kalish Institute
Dan Kalish, DC, IFMCP, is founder of the Kalish Institute, an online practice implementation training program dedicated to building Integrative and Functional Medicine practices through clinical and business courses.