A Product Manager Goes to the Chiropractor

I have a love-hate relationship with the chiropractor. Getting adjusted feels great, but the end-to-end patient experience is typically awful.

This week I discovered The Joint, a network of non-insurance affordable chiropractic clinics. The product manager in me was blown away by the end-to-end user experience, and it solved all my issues with going to the chiropractor.

For those of you who listened to my podcast episode about 'product management in my medicine,' where I ranted about how patient experiences are seriously due for improvement (albeit with a real medical doctor who agrees with me), you may be burnt out on listening to me talk about this subject. But I am fascinated by this new patient-care model in action, and the product manager is me is giddy to have discovered it.

Here are some current issues with the chiro patient user experience: 

  1. It's expensive. (Really, annoyingly expensive.)
  2. I have to make an appointment well in advance. 
  3. I usually have to wait a long time, even when I DO make an appointment.
  4. An adjustment literally takes 3 minutes, so why is the whole process so freakin' complicated? 
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Here are 6 customer problems this new chiropractic experience solved for me: 

1 - Location, Location, Location

There are loads of clinic locations, so I'm not married to one specific office. If I'm in Boulder, I can drop by the Boulder location. Today, I was visiting a friend in South Denver, and I popped in a location near her house for an adjustment. This is a game-changer. 

2 - I didn't have to deal with insurance

The receptionist asked me if I had an FSA or HSA, but The Joint doesn't deal with insurance otherwise. With no administrative cost-of-labor to deal with insurance, this (huge) savings is passed onto customers. Which is fine because...

3 - It's affordable

But seriously affordable. I bought a 6-pack of adjustments for what I'd normally pay for one single visit with my regular chiro. It's insane.

4 - NO APPOINTMENTS

Good-bye to the days of making chiro appointments weeks in advance! What am I doing next Wednesday at noon? I don't know. I might go to the chiropractor. If I feel like it. My week is no longer defined by my chiro appointment schedule.

5 - User profile management is on-point

The Joint gave me keychain scanner, so sign-in is instantaneous.

Pending there is no one in line (I've never had to wait), I go straight back to the chiro room, where up to 4 chiropractors are waiting by their chiro chairs.

The doctors on duty already have your patient profile up on their computer screen; my profile is clearly and visually laid out - what happened during my last visit, which areas were adjusted, where my pain points are, etc. It's organized, visual, and quickly scannable to get the appropriate info. There are no paper patient charts. 

6 - It is seriously fast.

Once you take all the crap stuff out of a chiropractic appointment and focus only on what brings the customer value, it really doesn't take that long. 

I timed myself today. I entered the clinic at 3:01. I was back in my car at 3:05.

When I think about my prior experiences at the chiro, I spent most of my time signing in, talking to the admin assistant about insurance and payment, waiting in a waiting room full of people when only 1-2 chiropractors are actually working, waiting for the dr. to review a paper chart and notes, etc. The actual adjustment (the reason I'm there) takes only a few minutes. 

The Joint solves for the customer's job-to-be-done and simplifies the experience.
People don't just want their back to feel better.
People want a convenient way for their back to feel better.

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4 Possible Downsides

1 - It's hard to build trust for a patient who isn't used to the chiropractor

2 - Users who like a very personal relationship with their chiropractor won't get it here

If you're the type of person who likes to see the same face every time, The Joint is not necessarily for you. Although you can ask for a specific doctor's schedule, many of the chiropractors work at multiple locations, so you won't necessarily see the same person every time.

3 - If you want to use insurance, it's not an option

I get a certain number of adjustments per year with my insurance plan. I still prefer to pay out-of-pocket at The Joint. It saves me that much time. Some other patients may not have the luxury of paying out of pocket.

4 - I don't know what the worker (employee) experience is like

Much like Uber has replaced locally owned taxi businesses, The Joint has the potential to replace locally and family owned chiropractic businesses. I don't have any insight into the employee experience, but I can assume chiropractors make less working for The Joint than they would owning their own business. Perhaps doctors enjoy being able to focus on patient care, and not having to deal with the business side. Perhaps not.

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I know this post may sound like an ad for The Joint. It's not.

I hope other patient experiences in the medical field (if you consider chiropractic care 'medicine') move towards user-focused models. I'm not saying they should replicate this model, which works for chiro, but rather focus on the end-to-end patient experience.