The Body DOES Needs Help
“The body needs no help, just no interference.” ~ B.J. Palmer
It’s a well known aphorism that is often used to sum up chiropractic philosophy- and, as far as it goes with regard to the human body, it does sum things up quite nicely.
But what about the body of chiropractic? Of our profession? Is it designed to be innately healthy and flourishing? If so, there is some big time interference going on because we may be surviving and thriving – but we’re not operating optimally by a long shot.
Watch as Jason Deitch and Bharon Hoag describe how the body of chiropractic really just needs more nourishment from its membership…and how you can nourish our profession with the time and attention it needs.
Jason Deitch: Hi, everyone. Dr. Jason Deitch and I’m here with my great friend Bharon, I’m going to say it right, Hoag [pronounced “Hoyg” or “Hoig”}.
Bharon Hoag: Correct.
Jason Deitch: Baron Hoag. This is another edition of Today’s Chiropractic Leadership and we have with us what I consider to be somebody who is a true leader. For those of you that don’t know, Bharon has been, for several years now, the executive director of the Ohio State Chiropractic Association. I’ve been watching for several years and some of the things you’ve achieved and accomplished there, I think are historic and really a model for other state associations. I’ll say for the rest of the profession to follow. What I want to talk about in this edition of Today’s Chiropractic Leadership magazine and with you specifically is the importance of engagement, the importance of individual chiropractors understanding how powerful their voice is, how powerful their engagement is, understand that participating or not participating matters.
Bharon Hoag: That’s right.
Jason Deitch: We were talking a little bit earlier and I’d love for you to share, what are some of the things that because you had a vision and, not just a vision, vision is easy, but because you had people that actually were able to show up, engage, participate, pay their dues on a regular basis, what are some of the achievements you’ve been able to accomplish as a state association that others aren’t quite doing?
Bharon Hoag: Yeah, well, you’re 100% right. It boiled down to that engagement. When I took over with the Ohio State Chiropractic Association in 2010, we were the epitome of what happens when people become disengaged. For 10 years they had a drop every single year in membership, to the point where it got to probably it’s lowest in history, to about 320 members in a state that had 2500 licensed chiropractors. It was a pretty substantial drop and it was that issue of people not buying into the vision and caring enough to be engaged to be a part of the solution. People are very comfortable complaining and saying how horrible it is and “I pay my dues. Why aren’t more people doing things?” You’ve seen that yourself in your journeys. I knew that when we got in there, the new leadership team had to find a way to inspire a plan, a vision, something people could get behind and then we had to get them to engage in it.
Engagement is the key word. I think you’re using the right terminology, because inspiring is great, but people can get excited in a room and say “How awesome.” Then go back and be the same version of themselves they were before they came. For about 10 minutes they were inspired, but it’s how do you create a program that keeps them involved, where you keep that level of inspiration to the point where they’re actually walking and doing something. That’s what we had to build in Ohio and so we were able to do that by, the first and foremost is, we had to let them know they had leadership. They had people that were willing to stand on the ground and say “This is what we believe. Here’s where we’re going. Who’s in?”
I feel that our profession has lost that, that boldness that we had that created chiropractic, where they were willing to go to jail and they were willing to have all kinds of persecution against them for practicing chiropractic. We had that boldness at one time where we stood for something. I don’t feel we have that globally in our profession right now. People are almost willing to be anything in order to get paid. That’s really what our focus has been is reimbursement, not telling our story of chiropractic.
We knew in Ohio that we had to actually build a model that encouraged people to be a part of what we were doing but actually not look to us to do it but figure out how they could get engaged and have their own pockets within their communities that they were duplicating the programs that we had built. One of the significant wins that we had in that area on the topic of reimbursement is, there was a third party carrier that had come in and taken over one of the contracts in Ohio, Aetna, which is our third largest payer in the state. This company came in and literally pretty much just killed the benefit.
With my background in insurance and coding and documentation, I knew how this system worked and what we needed to do. Rather than fighting lawsuits and complaining and creating a legal issue of anti-trust by staunchly opposing being in network with an insurance, we went to providers and said “Listen. We have to educate your patients, the beneficiaries. What does this mean to them? How does this work?” We did a grassroots movement with our membership where they went and they educated their beneficiaries and then the employees went to their employers and said, “This is what’s happening.” Within six months, to my knowledge, the first state in the country, that within six months we were able to get rid of that third party and the major med said, “Listen, we’re willing to do this.” Our people got engaged. They communicated to their patients. Their patients went to their employer. The employer went to the insurance company and said, “If this is how you’re going to play, we’re going to change payers.” Then the payer immediately, within six months, eliminated that agreement with that group. That’s the power of what happens when we actually work together.
As you and I both know and I think we’ve joked about this before, the best philosophers and sociologists in the world came from Disney and they all showed up in an animated movie. One of my favorite animated movies is A Bug’s Life and it’s the part where Hopper’s under the sombrero with all the grasshoppers and they’re in the bar atmosphere and they want to go back to Ant Island. Hopper wants to go back to Ant Island and the grasshoppers are like, “We don’t need to go back.” He stands there and says “If those ants ever understand they outnumber us three to one, our way of life is over. We’re going back to keep them under control.” That’s what’s happening in our profession, because we are so ‘siloed’ and we don’t want to work together, we’re easy to pick off one by one but if our profession ever gets it, if they ever get engaged, if they ever plug in and work on what they agree on.
You see, we’re like a religion. We’re arguing over the 2% we don’t agree on and we’re ignoring the 98% we do. If we actually put more effort and energy into what we agree on, and we engage together through social media, we engage together through communication in our states, when we come together and vacation together, we talk together, we create our own little support small groups in our communities where we’re marketing together, we’re branding each other rather than ourselves as individuals, the power is literally unstoppable. I’ve said this forever, second to the Gospel only is the message of chiropractic. It’s that powerful. If we just tell the story, it will move mountains, but we’ve got to stop thinking of every excuse as to why it doesn’t work and why someone else isn’t doing their job and we need to pick up our phone and we need to do our job.
Jason Deitch: We were talking earlier about the idea of really not focusing on our minor differences, but really focusing on our major agreements.
Bharon Hoag: That’s right.
Jason Deitch: You’ve done an amazing job, I’ll say inspiring chiropractors to get involved, to take action. Now in your case, because it had to do with their wallets, their pocketbooks, their money, that’s very motivating and obviously in some cases, that’s what’s going to motivate them to take action and to get involved.
Bharon Hoag: Sure.
Jason Deitch: Engagement really is the name of the game. You can, we can move mountains. Maybe share with me an example of perhaps a time in the very early stages or somewhere where you had a great opportunity that was presented, all you had to do was basically say yes and get some consensus and because of a lack of engagement, for whatever those reasons are, that didn’t have to do with putting a dollar in their pocket today. What are some of those opportunities that might have been lost because there wasn’t some, I’ll say consistency, in the concept of really being one voice and really harnessing the power of us working together?
Bharon Hoag: Yeah. It was in my first year that I was there. Legislation had been introduced to actually start regulating concussions, right? That’s such a huge topic in our healthcare world as a whole, especially in athletics. In Ohio, there was a freshman representative that introduced some legislation to look at concussion from an entire perspective, looking at the officials, the coaches, the parents, all of that. In there, they slipped some language that restricted the ability to return an athlete back to the field of play to only an MD, a DO and an athletic trainer. Those are the only three that were able to release a concussed athlete back to the field of play.
Well, because the association was so fractured and they weren’t working together, when it came time for us to be able to communicate on that, nobody was willing to stand up and tell our story and we missed that opportunity. We got legislated out of that process that effected so many of our chiropractors because we’re one of the only physicians that are willing to stand on the sideline and work with these high school teams. MDs aren’t willing to do that. Athletics trainers are only if there’s a contract. We’re volunteering because we love these people and want to be engaged in our community.
Jason Deitch: Our service actually helps.
Bharon Hoag: Exactly.
Jason Deitch: A concussion isn’t … You don’t heal from a concussion with more medications.
Bharon Hoag: That’s correct. Yep.
Jason Deitch: It’s the neurological component that we offer.
Bharon Hoag: Absolutely.
Jason Deitch: That is our sweet spot.
Bharon Hoag: Yeah and it got taken away precisely because people washed their hands and said “You know what? The Association isn’t worth being a part of. They’re not going anywhere.” They gave up on it. They didn’t get engaged. It took us three years and a lot of money to be able to legislate our ability back in and we never got full access like we did. We gained a little bit of ground but it showed me that we need to get passionate.
Here’s a perfect example of engagement. I don’t do this because I don’t have the discipline. This whole thing of fantasy sports and fantasy football right now, the amount of time people spend checking their rosters, getting on their phone, posting their starting line up, looking at who’s injured. Why can’t we do that about telling our story? Don’t tell me you don’t know how to do it because you find out how to do it for a stupid fake game, but we’re not doing it with [chiropractic].
This is the other thing. Listen. What we do can literally fix the biggest epidemic in our world. The number one cost driver in healthcare is non-surgical spine. That’s the number one driver. It’s the number one healthcare issue and cost driver and we will make the time to do fantasy football on our damn phones, but we won’t make the time to send a little message out telling people about the awesome success I had with my patient today. We won’t take the time to click the button through your service AmpLIFEied, just to send a positive mention that’s beautifully created, just to get it in the airwaves to combat all of the other crap that’s on the social media sites. It isn’t that you don’t have the time. It isn’t that you don’t have the knowledge. You don’t have the perspective to understand how important it is that we tell our story.
In Ohio, I know it’s not much different than any other state, we have 29 people a week that are dying on properly prescribed, properly administered drugs – 29 a week dead, gone. These aren’t the crack addicts in the alleyways. These are affluent families. These are athletes that were star athletes that got hooked on it through pain management. This is unacceptable to me that we’re willing to wear pink stuff, pink socks and shirts that say “Save the ta-tas” for cancer, but we’re not willing to spend that kind of time, energy and money on our story. We’ve got to get engaged.
Jason Deitch: Where do you think, you’re one of the few people I actually will ask this question to and trust their answer, because it’s not a complaint, it’s not an armchair quarterback perspective. You’re somebody who’s been there, done that. You’ve not only helped the Ohio State Chiropractic Association but you’ve actually mentored many of the other state associations through COCSA [the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations] and so on. Where’s the system broken? More importantly, how do we fix it?
Bharon Hoag: Yeah. I’m no longer the executive director of the Ohio State Chiropractic Association. I actually resigned in this past June and I resigned for this reason. Not that I think associations are flawed. They serve a dramatic purpose. Our national organizations as well, but their purpose will never advance the ultimate profession. They’re just broken in the way to have sustained, articulated, engaged plans. They won’t do it and here’s why. It’s the infrastructure. You have chiropractors that are trained chiropractors only. They’re not trained as business people. They are not corporation managers. They are not used to managing budgets of over a million dollars. They’re not used to dealing with staff. They’re giving part time volunteer hours to help govern an association, but that changes every two years with most associations because you have different people running. Then this bickering that we love to do in our profession, the Hatfield and McCoy garbage. You have the Hatfields running and then in two years the McCoys say, “That’s enough. We don’t want any more Hatfields in there, so we’re going to run our guy.” You get into these political debates.
I love Ohio. I had six years with that state. Blood, sweat and tears with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Understand I am not downplaying those individual chiropractors. They’re amazing people, leaving their families to lead, but what they’re doing is, they’re working from skill sets some of them don’t have because no one else is willing to step up, so they at least stepped up. For that, they deserve the utmost gratitude.
Jason Deitch: What I do hear you saying, though, is that it’s not about the people, it’s about the system.
Bharon Hoag: No. Correct. Yes.
Jason Deitch: The infrastructure of all of that.
Bharon Hoag: Yes.
Jason Deitch: Where’s the infrastructure broken and what’s your vision for fixing it?
Bharon Hoag: Yeah. It’s broken because your leadership team changes on a regular basis and oftentimes, the way that they’re voted in is by getting the general public to support them. It’s literally like a political campaign. They’re running on these ideals that they have no ability to get done and it changes so fast. Every president wants to leave their mark, as I would if I was in that environment. They’re great for the constant things like legislation. They’re great for the constant things like the legal battles. That is where they’re awesome but when we’re talking about making chiropractic the number one healthcare choice in the world, those programs, they won’t work because they don’t have the right kind of staff. They don’t pay enough to be able to bring the right kind of people in to facilitate programs. It’s not their fault. It’s the way they’re structured. There’s got to be a different way to do things.
Einstein says that you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it. We do that all the time in our profession. We’ve got to start thinking differently. We’ve got to be okay to want to build something different that enables us to do the things that the current structures can’t. It’s not that they’re wrong. It’s not that they’re bad but they’re not built to do what needs to be done.
Jason Deitch: Let’s talk about that. In today’s world, I know that we were talking about some of the challenges were that a lot of resources of a state association would go towards perhaps putting an event together.
Bharon Hoag: Sure.
Jason Deitch: In years past, seminars were big and they were actually a profit center. In many places, because of lack of engagement and the difficulty because, my belief is, confirm or deny, but my belief is that it’s so difficult for state associations, for leaders, to communicate with their members and members have gotten so disengaged because they’re doing it, I’ll say, the old way. Even email these days is sort of the old way.
Bharon Hoag: Yeah…
Jason Deitch: Many of them still sending newsletters out once a month, once a quarter that it’s, I’ll say, practically impossible, in today’s world, at the rate of information, at the rate of need of change, of understanding, of awareness, the old way of communicating with people, would you agree, is outdated?
Bharon Hoag: Oh, absolutely.
Jason Deitch: We need to, I’ll say reform that, too. You mentioned a lot of this is a political game in order to be able to get your agenda there, so you’ve got the leaders agenda, not necessarily the population of the profession’s agenda.
Bharon Hoag: Yeah. Yeah.
Jason Deitch: That becomes a whole political game and people become self-focused about their belief of the way things should be done as opposed to, perhaps, consensus.
Bharon Hoag: Right.
Jason Deitch: Perhaps an open forum, but because these are boardrooms, you’ve got to be elected. You’ve got to be a part of certain meetings and be a part of certain rules, it’s difficult for practicing chiropractors to get their voice heard. Like even our national politics, it becomes a small group of special interests that are really advancing their agenda.
Bharon Hoag: It’s not always the fault of the leadership because when you have a disengaged membership that feels like “My voice doesn’t matter.”
Jason Deitch: Right.
Bharon Hoag: Please understand this is in no way a condemnation to the associations, to those people. It’s that the whole thing is broken.
Jason Deitch: The system’s broke.
Bharon Hoag: It’s broken and we’ve got to be willing to reinvent it, so you’re 100% right.
Jason Deitch: This is not unlike, ironically, of course, our national politics.
Bharon Hoag: Oh, absolutely.
Jason Deitch: We’ll stay off the national politics. However, it’s pretty safe to say that it’s kind of broken.
Bharon Hoag: Yeah.
Jason Deitch: I think perhaps, again, this is Today’s Chiropractic Leadership. The conversation is around engaging the profession to participate. This has become, I’m not sure if it’s the chicken or the egg. Is it the leaders who have taken over because of lack of engagement? Do we have lack of engagement because the leaders have taken over? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. All that really matters is that we need a vision for a new future.
Bharon Hoag: That’s right.
Jason Deitch: Do you want to maybe just give some of the, let’s say, the anatomy, some of the components? What would a futuristic association, organization, I’m not even sure what you would call it, but what would a future group of people who want to be effective look like in your eyes?
Bharon Hoag: Yeah. Well, one, it’s inclusive, right? Part of what a lot of people have built, it’s been around my idea and if you don’t agree with my idea in this small box, then we’re going to do it on our own. What that does is, that creates a lot of duplication. I’ll just tell you, the whole ACA, ICA garbage that’s happened in our profession, they’re so laser focused with what they say they believe that it’s alienated everybody else. We need someone that’s saying “Listen, I’m not going to play those games.” We’re not going to sit there and get caught up in a belief system. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm person on what I call an abortion statement. There needs to be something that this is what I believe and stand for, but it can’t be so laser focused that only six people fit into that box and you spend your whole time trying to convert everybody rather than just attracting them.
Jason Deitch: Let me actually bring up my observation, which is that because there’s such a lack of communication with larger groups of people that we have a tendency to, I’ll say be prejudiced.
Bharon Hoag: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Jason Deitch: That we go “Oh, you went to that school. You do that technique.” I once heard you say to somebody else that I missed, I only heard part of a conversation and you said this, therefore I’m judging you, prejudging you and I’m pegging you with a particular slant and therefore I’m not going to support you.
Bharon Hoag: Correct.
Jason Deitch: Those are all byproducts-
Bharon Hoag: That is.
Jason Deitch: Side effects of all of that. Please go on. I just wanted to bring that up.
Bharon Hoag: No. You’re 100% right. I get that all the time. There’ll be something on Facebook where I’m at a certain college. “Oh, I thought you only did something with that school.”
Jason Deitch: Exactly.
Bharon Hoag: “Oh, I didn’t know. I thought you were against them.” I’m not really against anybody. I’m against apathy. I’m against people that want to complain but aren’t willing to step up to do anything about it. I’m against our profession not being in love with themselves enough to be passionate enough to tell their story everywhere. Those are the things that I’m concerned about. The new organization or idea or this mecca, if you will, that’s actually going to get the job done, in my opinion, has to be something that’s not trying to do what someone else is doing, but rather, creates an environment where everyone can come based on their skill set and do what they’re awesome at and let them let go of the things they’re not. See, our profession, including down to the practicing chiropractor, wants to be everything to everybody and that is not sustainable.
There’s not a business in the world that has ever gained large success by not departmentalizing some of the skillsets based on what people can bring to the table. There are some people that are amazing behind the scenes with numbers that have no business ever talking to a customer. There are people that are amazing in front of the customers that have no business ever touching the numbers, but yet in our profession, we seem to think because we don’t like anybody else or we don’t trust anyone else, I’ve got to do it all, even if I such at 80% of it. I want you to be awesome at the 20% and just do the 20%, because that’s going to help me push my agenda of making chiropractic the number one healthcare choice in the world.
This organization has to be all-inclusive. Come on in. Let’s see what you’re awesome at, but our vision is this, right? That’s where I think we can get this done. Rather than saying “I’ve got to wear a pin that says ACA or a pin that says ICA or a pin that says Foundation or a pin that says the Ohio State Chiropractic Association or a pin that says Palmer. “It’s “You know what? I have a pin that says chiropractic man. If your heart’s like my heart, give me your hand.” That’s it. That’s the vision that we’ve got to create and we’ve got to stop wasting our time on all of the little things that make us feel like we’re doing something but at the end of the day, doesn’t ultimately impact the day in and day out world of a chiropractor.
Jason Deitch: Those are wise words and we’ll have future conversations, perhaps about what this organization might look like, what the anatomy of it is, what the purpose. You mentioned having a bold statement. Let’s think about what that might be, but I think for this conversation, the name of the game is engagement.
Bharon Hoag: That’s right.
Jason Deitch: It is realizing that it’s time for the insanity to stop. You can stop it and you can stop it really by participating. By reengaging in the process, realizing that you cannot afford to be too busy, that there’s no such thing as saying “I don’t know how to do that. I don’t like politics.” Any of those things that in today’s world, with the click of a button. You mentioned that. I’m going to use that metaphor in the future, but so many people are addicted to their phones anyway.
Bharon Hoag: That’s right.
Jason Deitch: You don’t even have to go to the mailbox, just use that thing that you’re probably watching right this very second as you’re looking at this video. Just stay connected and engaged. Create a new spirit of cooperation, of purpose, of intention based on really what’s possible for this profession. Fall in love with it again if you’ve perhaps lost some hope. I’m going to ask you to give some final words that maybe have been effective in Ohio. Today’s Chiropractic Leadership is really about reinstating leadership. That doesn’t mean just one or two people having dominance. It really means that each and every one of us have a spirit that we can do it.
Bharon Hoag: That’s right. Yeah. I’ll leave you with this and I pretty much end every opportunity I have on stage or one on one with somebody. Listen, man. I don’t know what’s going on in your world right now. I’m sure you’re just burdened with marital issues, financial issues, spiritual issues, health issues. This world has a way of just compounding thing after thing after thing that wants to limit our mind and our ability to impact, but here’s what I want you to know more than anything else today. You were made beautifully. You have everything you need to rock your world. What you lack is the belief system in yourself and a desire to do things above yourself to make it happen. You have been gifted the opportunity to be in a profession, again, like I said earlier, that is second only to the Gospel. It is the most amazing thing in the world in how it affects an overall human being. Not only just in the services you provide through the adjustment and the other things you do, but the fact that you listen, that you touch. You have that humanistic aspect and that vitalistic mentality of what you’re doing. That is what makes you amazing, but I want you to realize that you’re not doing it for you.
You see, any company that’s ever really exceeded it’s expectations is because they caught a vision bigger than themselves. You see, you weren’t given this ability of chiropractic for you to gain, for you to have dollars, resources, reputation, any of that stuff. You were given this because you now have the ability to impact people above you. I need you to catch a vision that’s bigger than your office. That’s bigger than your visit goals, bigger than your collection goals. That’s driven to your community and catch something bigger. That’s when you’re going to want to get on your phone and tell a story. That’s when you’re going to want to share it with other people, because it’s not about you. If you catch that bug and you realize that you’re a part of something bigger and we are one profession, that’s when things get exciting and you’re driven to want to be a part of that.
I’m challenging you right now, however long it takes you to watch this video and maybe watch it three or four times. Understand you have everything you need. God created you beautifully. I love you because you love what I love and just know that you’re not alone. There’s a whole team of people out there that are here to support you and love you and I can’t wait to see what you do in your community to change this world.
Jason Deitch: Bharon Hoag, thanks for joining us for another edition of Today’s Chiropractic Leadership and thank you for watching.
Bharon Hoag: God bless.