“Evidence-based medicine.” Why is this such a common buzz phrase for modern acupuncturists? Have you been in social media acupuncture groups or to acupuncture symposiums lately?
Acupuncturists want it and patients demand it.
I don’t remember hearing much about it when I began my acupuncture journey 10 years ago. They didn’t really teach it in school.
The truth is—our medicine, in its traditional sense, lacks the ability to objectively demonstrate problems or track patient progress.
In the youth of my career, I was naive to the value of “Evidence-based Medicine.”
It wasn’t until I opened my own clinic that I started to become wise. Through the years I’ve learned that any successful clinic must have these two vital factors going for it.
1. Good skills. I list this first, because this is what most practitioners focus on. If you are great at what you do, your practice will thrive, right? The truth is, having good skills is only half the battle. You’ve got to have more…
2. Evidence-based Medicine. This is the foundation that makes your practice strong.
Let me explain what I mean. The following are three vital benefits of evidence-based medicine that you can’t get from any other approach.
1. Powerful Patient education
As much as I’d like to, it’s impossible for me to explain the theories, conditions, and symptoms of Chinese medicine to every patient that comes through the door. Not only is this not feasible, I don’t think the majority of patients want me to TRY to explain it all anyway.
In the end, most patients just want to know two things.
1. That you know what’s wrong.
2. That you know how to fix it.
If you don’t have evidence to show these two things, patients will be less inclined to believe you.
I like to give the patient a general overview of channel theory, explaining that when energy isn’t flowing the way it needs to, symptoms develop in the body. I then point to the blockage on the AcuGraph report, and show them EXACTLY where the problem is.
This is HUGE!
How many patients finally come to you, desperate for a solution, after they have tried everything else? The AcuGraph report of findings is a BIG relief!
I explain that we will track their progress with follow-up graphs and always know exactly what is happening in their body. The patient leaves my office with confidence and trust that I understand their condition, and that I am going to solve their problem.
2. Better Treatment Plans
Many practitioners completely get the patient education part, but they have a hard time even imagining that AcuGraph can help them give a better treatment.
How do I know this? Because I doubted it too!
It took me awhile to realize what a valuable resource the recommended baseline treatment is in AcuGraph. Remember those tonificaiton and sedation points related to the Mother/Son/Grandmother you learned back in college? I’ll bet you memorized them to take your exams, but never used them in practice, right? Why do I make this assumption? Because my classmates and I never used them.
Well, let me tell you a secret. For more than a year, I never used the recommended points in AcuGraph.
Then I went to a training where I learned more about the Mother/Son/Grandmother relationship. A light bulb went on. “Hey—those are the tonification and sedation points AcuGraph recommends.”
I took a leap of faith and began adding AcuGraph recommended treatment points to my TCM protocols.
All of a sudden my patients started getting better twice as fast.
Amazing! If you own AcuGraph and haven’t learned the value of these points, I suggest you open your mind to new possibilities.
I’m a better practitioner when I incorporate the tonification and sedation points from AcuGraph. If you want to learn more about how this affected my practice, read this blog series: “I am Convinced”
3. Communication with Other Health Care Professionals
It’s typical for AcuGraph users to develop relationships with other healthcare practitioners in their communities and receive a regular flow of referrals. Why do you think this is?
AcuGraph gives you a greater ability to communicate with other healthcare professionals.
When you can show a before and after graph, PROVING that you are effective at getting results, other medical professionals will have great respect for the work you do.
Imagine this scenario:
After you’ve finished a series of treatments, you send a before and after graph showing marked improvement, to the referring health care professional—along with a simple note thanking them for trusting you to care for their patients and letting them know the outcome.
Do you think this healthcare provider will continue sending referrals to your office? Absolutely!
Some practitioners also use AcuGraph to communicate with insurance companies, sending AcuGraph scans in conjunction with treatment notes to show progress and prove the need for further care.
It’s not easy to communicate progress in traditional TCM terminology.
AcuGraph allows you to think TCM in your mind, yet communicate in a way patients and other health care practitioners can grasp.
I’ve learned a few things over the years. Skills improve with time, and the more patients you treat, the better you become.
If you start with a strong foundation of evidence-based medicine, you’ll see more patients, improve your skills, and build a rock-solid foundation for your practice!
Want to know more about the AcuGraph? Here’s a short video for you:
Talk to ya’ soon!
Kimberly Thompson, L.Ac.
Acupuncture Research Analyst