- Category: Business Spotlight
- Published on Friday, 01 March 2013 01:00
- Written by Courtney Sherwood
To the world of mainstream medicine, chiropractors often seem to approach human health from an unfamiliar point of view. And that’s a good thing, if you ask Mark Blessley, doctor of chiropractic and founder of Good Health Naturally PLLC in Vancouver.
“Wellness is declining; people are getting sick all over the place,” Blessley said. “There are toxins, physical problems, emotional problems. Lifestyle problems create stress. I looked around [and thought], ‘Which doctors are doing the most with wellness?’”
That examination led Blessley, who was frustrated by the limits on what he could accomplish during an earlier career as a massage therapist, to enroll at the University of Western States Doctor of Chiropractic degree program. In 2007, after initially focusing on chiropractic sports medicine, he opened Good Health Naturally – a clinic that puts wellness at the center of patients’ care.
A similar examination, Blessley said, has a growing number of people turning to his clinic to receive medical guidance.
Today, Good Health Naturally employs two chiropractors, two massage therapists and an office administrator. In 2012, the business scheduled more than 4,300 patient visits. And with revenues and visits climbing every year, Blessley said he’s looking to grow further in 2013, by adding an additional admin, chiropractor and massage therapist.
The chiropractic industry has been growing at the relatively slow pace of about 1 percent per year since about 2008, according to market research firm IbisWorld. However, Massachusetts researchers predict that health care reform and the changing needs of baby boomers will more than double that growth rate in the next five years. In the Western U.S., where alternative medicine is more widely accepted than in other regions, the industry could grow even faster.
Still, Blessley said, misconceptions that date back decades leave many people unfamiliar with what chiropractors do.
“Chiropractors have been around since 1895. It’s not a new fad,” Blessley remarked. “We are considered physicians; we can be primary care providers.”
Blessley estimated that about 70 percent of patients are covered by insurance, with around 30 percent paying out of pocket.
Chiropractic physicians are best known for their treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, but they are also educated in nutrition, exercise, physical therapy/rehabilitation and lifestyle counseling.
“There are some medical needs we can’t meet, so we refer people, if they need surgery, for example,” Blessley explained.
He cites medical malpractice insurance rates as evidence that chiropractors must be doing something right. The clinic’s annual insurance cost is about $2,500 a year, he said. Malpractice costs vary widely by specialty, but it’s not unusual for a Washington physician to pay $20,000 or more.
“Any insurance company charges a rate that is appropriate for the risk,” Blessley said. “Our malpractice rate is low because we have satisfied customers. Our profession is fairly low risk.”
Good Health Naturally has been focused on expanding the depth of whole-person care it can provide within the business’ scope of practice, Blessley said. For instance, the clinic now offers phone and email health coaching and recently launched an iPhone and Android app that includes information about Good Health Naturally, as well as videos about healthy living. And Blessley has been speaking about healthy living at community groups in Clark County.
Blessley acknowledged that these efforts act as marketing by increasing the visibility of the clinic, but said that’s not the ultimate goal.
“We want to have a nice well-rounded program that helps people eat, move and live healthfully,” he said.