Every year, I try to sit down and reflect on the year as a whole. This is going to drift between personal and professional life, mostly story telling but I am going to try and limit the rants, plenty of opinions will be given but just know that I’m doing it more for self reflection and entertainment than for useful information for the possible readers…..so here we go.
As many people in my circle know, the first half of the year started off a little rough, mainly on a personal level. My dad, Craig, underwent a liver transplant in December of 2022, literally everything that could go wrong, did. I essentially made a trip to Omaha and UNMC every other weekend for the first 4-6 months of 2023 to try and be there for my family and hopefully take some stress off my mom. He spent nearly 9 months at Nebraska Medicine. The condition was all caused by a heart medication that he had been on for years. While he appears to be improving day-by-day it has been a long road for him and the family but the upward trajectory looks good at the moment.
- I feel that the amount of time I spent around Nebraska Medicine gave us a new found respect for the amount of specialists available and their vast knowledge and sometime lack of knowledge in regards to the healthcare system (Unknown answers were a regular occurrence and we found that we had to just accept the unknown). I would like to think that we, as a family, never crossed any boundaries, but the one main factor, having an advocate on behalf of a loved one. My mom never left his side, we asked hard questions, my mom took notes as to what was going on but there are a vast number of people in hospitals that don’t have someone to ask questions and advocate on their behalf, for this we noticed a flaw in the system, as some of the doctors said, we kind of exposed a “chink in the armor.”
- Add a detached retina to the equation as well and then you can truly round out Craig Spracklin’s year.
We are at a stage in our lives with little kids that spending quality time with them is of the upmost importance. A California trip was taken to see friends, a couple small trips to see other friends and a couple of different nights in hotels that coincided with professional development trips. As everyone with children knows, traveling with kids can be a challenge but we feel that small trips when they are young will help build to larger trips when they are older.
In February, Kristina and I took a trip to Las Vegas for a national seminar that I had been eyeing for years and we decided to just pull the trigger and go for it. While Las Vegas as a whole is not really our scene the seminar made us start to think. “How exactly do we grow the business and office to serve the community that we would like to serve and spread that word?” This seminar is where the wheels started spinning for the drug & alcohol testing. We had pages of ideas that we would like to explore but this one was the most obvious for us as to where we are in the business.
- The main theory: we are on a path that performing DOT/CDL Physicals was not going to slow down, in fact it is growing. It’s a service that is mandated by the DOT and we saw a need in this market. We reached out to a few people in the area to see about partnering up in regards to drug & alcohol testing, as we knew we would like to be a one stop shop for all things DOT related. The more we started exploring these options; we made the conscious effort to just start doing the service ourselves. We took some classes, bought the equipment and started getting the word out. It has been going very well so far, but we look forward to keep expanding this part of the office. Our consortium services are beginning January 2024 and we are always looking to just becoming a collection site for other local companies.
The chiropractic side of the offices has continued to grow. We have been in business for 12 years and in Minden for over 7 now. From a patient volume perspective things are trending well, we have busy and slow days as any other office but overall things from a number of patients is good. Now, I’m going to go off on a little tangent, just because patient volume is up does not necessarily mean that we are seeing more money come in. The insurance regulations and oversight that are starting to come in is noticeable, while not impossible to deal with on an individual level; reimbursements are not necessarily trending upwards in the same direction as patient volume. I used to think people that went to a cash based office were crazy, but the longer I go it looks very appealing, while I have no intention of going this direction as I do find that the vast majority of people what to use their insurance, it just makes things interesting from a cash flow and reimbursement prospective.
- The argument that I have been making recently and it’s a healthcare problem as a whole, not just our office. With office expenses going through the roof, literally, in order to generate more revenue from the office either you need to collect more or see more people. Insurance dictates how much you can collect per patient as we don’t do a lot of “cash based services” in the office. So the solution is to see more patients, but seeing more patients you tend to be stretched thinner and subsequently, provide a lesser standard of care. While this is not necessarily true all the way around, in general it’s the direction that most healthcare offices are trending.
A brief statement on the business side: as everyone can see, expenses are going crazy. We moved to a cloud based server to limit technology hassles, but it cost money. Insuring the building and business costs went up nearly 50% this past year, no surprise to anyone reading this. Equipment costs, labor costs, supplies and utilities have all been going up. Does it surprise anyone, not really but it’s one more challenge facing small business owners. Are we going anywhere? I sure hope not but costs are weird right now. Small business owners may need to get creative, so never say never on solutions to help spread out the costs. I was recently “elected” to the State Association Board of Directors, so I am starting to get exposed to the profession around the state and region, it can be quite eye opening. I will be out of the office a few more days to take on responsibilities as well, but it shouldn’t be noticeable to the majority of patients.
As the calendar is getting ready to hit 2024, we are going to keep plugging away both personally and professionally. Patients will probably not see any major changes in the offices as far I can tell. Will things change in the coming year, only time will tell but my main goal is to continue to grow services, see more patients and provide quality care & service to the people that come through the doors. Enjoying the ride is tough with younger kids but as this past year has taught the Spracklin family, every day is a blessing and try to embrace the present because tomorrow is not promised. We wish everyone a blessed Holiday season and look forward to serving you for this coming year and the years to come.