We hear a chiropractor’s perspective on healthcare has Garry Baldwin guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. With over 30 years of experience as a chiropractor, Garry has a perspective not just as a practitioner but as a leader in the Washington State Chiropractic Association. He is a member of the Baby Boomer Generation from the great state of Washington.
Here are 3 things that stood out as Garry Baldwin shared a chiropractor’s perspective on healthcare:
· Chiropractors have no desire to creep into the area of practice of medical doctors
· 80% of Americans at age 50 have back pain
· Quality healthcare starts with practitioners meeting the regulatory necessities
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Here is the transcript of “Garry Baldwin: A Chiropractor’s Perspective on Healthcare” –
Rob Oliver: Thank you for being with me today. My guest is Garry Baldwin. He brings a chiropractor’s perspective on health care to the program. He is from Washington, the state of Washington, often confused with Washington, DC, but nonetheless he is. He is a baby Boomer. Do I have that right, Garry? You’re a member?
Garry Baldwin: Absolutely.
Rob Oliver: Alright.
Garry Baldwin: I think I’m a young baby Boomer, but I’m a Boomer.
Rob Oliver: Alright. He joins me today. Garry, welcome to the show.
Garry Baldwin: Thank you very much for having me.
Rob Oliver: Absolutely. I’m delighted that you’re here. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role in health care?
Garry Baldwin: Well, I’m here today because to some degree, I’m representing the Washington State Chiropractic Association as its past President. I’m also a chiropractor that’s been in practice over 35 years in a city called Camp Washington, just South East of Seattle. And I think I bring a unique perspective on health care from a chiropractic perspective, which is unique and from a political perspective because I’ve been so involved in the politics of health care from that perspective for a very long time.
Rob Oliver: Excellent. Good. I’ve not really considered the concept of the politics of health care. Can you elaborate on that just a little bit?
Garry Baldwin: Yeah. It’s really kind of interesting because I spend a lot of time in Olympia, obviously not in the last year and a half, but in Olympia, which is our capital, and we have agenda items, most often inclusion and health care policies and reimbursement. And we spend time speaking to legislators based on bills that we present or that other professions present that we support or don’t support. And it’s interesting behind the scenes where we’re in support of something that we believe benefits our patients and an insurance company on the opposite side. And remember, my perspective is thinking, well, this is just going to cost us more. We’re really not going to support that. And we have this kind of behind the doors. I don’t want to call it fighting, but disagreement in terms of what’s going to happen for what we believe is a patient benefit.
Rob Oliver: So there’s the kind of behind the scene side of health care, the politics behind it. Okay. I’m going to ask you an honest question. And that is a lot of people when they talk about chiropractors, they say chiropractor is not a real doctor. Can you talk about the practice of chiropractic as it relates to health care and kind of lay the ground work as to what you’re providing and how it benefits the people that visit you?
Garry Baldwin: Absolutely. And I’m going to do it from a COVID perspective, if that’s okay with you. Chiropractors are not medical doctors. And in a lot of people’s minds, when you say you’re a doctor, they go, well, you’re not a real doctor, implying that you’re not a medical doctor. And I am totally good with that. I am not a medical doctor. I have a huge regard for medical doctors. I have no intention as a chiropractor of kind of creeping into their scope of practice is the word that we like to use. And so as a chiropractor, what we focus on is spine health, musculoskeletal health. And from a COVID perspective, let me explain why that differentiation is important. We were considered essential health care providers during this whole COVID episode. And the reason for that is because we did not want people with muscular skeletal problems, primarily back to neck pain. Going into emergency rooms were medical doctors were caring for medical issues, which were sick. People flew COVID. And by incorporating chiropractic with people in pain, a non pharmaceutical approach, we were able to take care of people, keep them out of emergency rooms, keep them out of urgent care, and provide that service, which lessen the birth on the medical community. So we are a drugless profession. We’ve been around since 1895. Our specialty is muscular skeletal. Our focus is the spine and the mechanisms of making the spine work more properly, function better. And people that have healthy air spines have less issues with back pain, muscle problems, strength gate all of those things. And I think 80% of Americans at age 50 have back pain. So we’ve got quite a group of people that we take care of, and that’s just one segment. We deal in nutrition, we deal in athletics. It’s really a wonderful profession for that. My daughter’s, a chiropractor deals in chiropractic Pediatrics. That’s another discussion if you want to have it. So there’s a broad scope of chiropractors and what they do.
Rob Oliver: I appreciate the explanation. What does quality health care mean to you?
Garry Baldwin: Well, I’m really big on certification and licensure. And so when I talk about quality, I’m talking about any healthcare provider that meets the standard based on our codes. And I’ll just say the state of Washington. So a chiropractor that is following all the laws and all of the codes is providing quality chiropractic care. So that’s just kind of a definition. But I think what quality care is, a chiropractor who listens to a patient understands what the patient’s problems are. If the chiropractor can deal with that patient to deal with it. If the chiropractic cannot deal with it, make sure that they get that person to the appropriate provider. And I really believe care protectors are good at that. Hey, this is out of my realm. Let’s get you to somebody different. Quality is listening, providing good care and referring when you can’t do that.
Rob Oliver: A wonderful definition. Can you give me an example of quality health care?
Garry Baldwin: We had a patient in a couple of weeks ago that had significant mid back pain. One of the things chiropractors do is we will take an X ray out of the area that we’re concerned about. So we do a thorough history. We do a thorough exam, and it really appeared that this person had something that chiropractic was going to be able to deal with. So many people today have a lot of mid and back pain, specifically because of a job like yours there, sitting at a desk, they’re behind a computer, their head falls forward, causes headaches across the base of the skull and mid back pain. So this is just a routine example of the kind of people we talked with didn’t think anything of it. But we did take the X ray because that’s a really cautionary thing to do. Looked at the film, and this poor guy had a gigantic tumor in his long, easy to see, and they’re usually not that easy to see. So quality health care was knowing immediately that this is not something that I’m going to be able to deal with secondarily, not saying something to the patient because I believe that that’s not my scope to do that, but immediately calling his primary care provider and saying, this is what we found, the wonderful part of technology. We were able to email the Xray immediately, and very sadly, he has cancer, but he’s in the right hands at the right time. So that’s an example of interprofessional cooperation. And on the other hand, quality healthcare is exactly the same example. But the person doesn’t have a tumor, they have terrible posture. They’ve got degenerative change in their neck. A chiropractor can evaluate that care for them with adjustments and exercise and at home procedures. And that personnel sits taller, has a lot less pain, and a huge opioid epidemic is not on any kind of medication in my mind that’s quality health care.
Rob Oliver: Thank you. I think it’s so interesting what you say. Your example of quality health care is one in which it’s introduced intra disciplinary cooperation. It’s not about saying, like, look at the great job that I did. It’s about saying the patient is at the center of this and based on what the patient needs are, if we are meeting the patients most immediate needs, that’s providing quality health care. I think it’s a very interesting and appreciated perspective. What do you wish that people understood about your role in healthcare?
Garry Baldwin: I think a lot of people, just as in the first question you ask me, hey, are you a real doctor? I do think that as chiropractors really only take care of about 20% of the population, there’s a lot of people out there that have absolutely no clue what chiropractors do. And I wish more people understood what we do and in the role we play. And we try the vast majority of patients that we see in our office are referred patients. I mean, imagine the contrast. Pharmaceutical companies spend about $10 billion a year marketing. Boy, we just don’t do that. We rely on referrals. And so I do believe somebody in the universe said here’s $10 billion talk about chiropractic. I think things would change. I do know that out of my 35 years of practice, that things have become so much better in terms of working with the medical profession. There’s a lot of orthopedic surgeons now that will refer to us. We refer back. We have good relations with family physician from a personal perspective, I think on a political perspective, the medical profession can take over the world and kind of eliminate everybody else. I think that they would do that, but that’s just not how it works. Patients have a great deal of input in that. So my wish is that more people understood what fire factors could do for them. Excuse me.
Rob Oliver No problem. I guess there’s a bunch of myth that kind of exist about chiropractic, and I’ll give you a chance right now, if there is one myth about chiropractic that you say, I would really like to explode this myth, what would it be?
Garry Baldwin That if I crack your neck, I’m going to kill you. Okay. I’ve rendered literally. We tried to figure it out one day, something like 5 million adjustments over my 35 years, and I’ve been very fortunate, and I just haven’t been able to kill anybody. So we are an extremely safe profession, for sure. We’ve got issues. One of the big issues is non referral. Everything after the fact makes sense. You’ve got somebody in with a severe issue and their low back caught up. Cline syndrome is one of them. You’re adjusting them because you’ve done it a thousand times before, and it turns out, oh, my God. This guy’s got a severely extruded disc and an adjustment was completely inappropriate. Well, not now. I know, but I didn’t know before. So chiropractic is extremely safe. We have extremely low malpractice in Church, which is fantastic. And those two things go hand in hand. So I think people need to know we’re very safe. And here’s an interesting thing. They have alternatives. People think the only way you can adjust somebody’s pine is by cracking or getting that audible. And modern chiropractic. There are many tools available instrument adjusting for one where you never even hear an audible and you still get a very positive results that’s I think where I would go with that.
Rob Oliver: Okay. What excites you about the future of healthcare?
Garry Baldwin: That’s a big question. You know what? Nothing. And I’ll tell you why, because I talk to a lot of different doctors, and I take a doctor perspective, and I take a patient perspective. And I’m honest when I say I don’t like insurance companies, I know they have a job to do, and I’m thankful for them. I’ve been very fortunate in my life and haven’t had to utilize them. But the problem I see with health care today is I do believe that it’s very pharmaceutical driven. When was the last time you went to your doctor and you did not get a prescription when everything is all about the next drug, it’s on television. Kids just are being inundated with this. And I think where I’m so disappointed with health care is that when you don’t talk about lifestyle, we don’t talk about nutrition. It’s kind of a second thought. We look at obesity in America. I mean, you look at COVID right now. The vast majority of people that have some coin had a comorbidity number one being diabetes, which is right in there with obesity. It’s so sad to me. And so I’m stand that we’re in such a pharmaceutical route and much less into a kind of take care of yourself route. But I think the public is kind of catching on to that and doing a better job. One the thing about health care that I think as good as I do believe technology is helping because people have a little more control over the health care that can communicate via email. Doctors are a little bit more open to somebody saying, hey, I saw on WebMD. Can you explain this to me? I think the future of health care that’s optimistic as people are becoming a little bit more involved and asking more, more questions. And doctors are getting a lot better about being open to answering those questions. It’s not so kind of dictated by the doctor anymore.
Rob Oliver: It’s so interesting, because what I hear you say is there are two sides to it. One is that people are becoming more empowered where they’re doing their research, they’re going out and asking the questions now. And people are also becoming less empowered by saying, okay, I don’t want to actually make change. Just give me a pill that can change this instead of me having to. It’s a double edged sword that cuts both ways. So such an interesting, interesting dichotomy that you lay out there. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?
Garry Baldwin: Listen, listening to patients better everything. I have a friend that and your nose and throw out guy. And he sold his practice to a big group, and he went from 15 minutes per patient down to seven minutes per patient. And he walked into the administrator’s office and said, hey, I’ve done this for 25 years on my own. I had 15 minutes to seven minutes isn’t enough. And the administrator pretty much said that’s the way it is. And so reimbursements have become reduced at every level. So I know people are paying more for insurance, but the doctor’s reimbursement is going down significantly. The things that you used to do routinely, you can’t do anymore. And now you’re having to spend seven minutes with a patient rather than 15. And not only that, you’ve got a document in a way that you’ve never documented before. This electronic health care records are so arduous. A lot of chiropractors. The boomers like me are literally retiring because communication is cut down. I’m spending time on a computer. I can’t look my patient in the eye, and so if we could do anything better, it truly wouldn’t be to listen more in the amount of time that we have and try to provide that same service that you did before. And listing has become just critical. So we got to work on it, I think, a very powerful message and a very important reminder of just how it’s about. If you listen, it’s the patient expressing what’s going on, and it becomes less about the less about the medical professional. And it becomes all about the patient because ultimately, without patients, the medical profession goes away. I know, but it’s so difficult, too, because you want to take care of that patient. And we are behold now to the insurance company. Ask how many of your doctors literally work on a cash basis and can run their practice the way they want? I’m fortunate because I’m a sole proprietor. I still own my practice, and I can run it the way I want. And as a more mature chiropractor have lesson the number of people I see so that I can provide the service that I always have. But younger chiropractors are really working hard, and they have to increase volume just to pay the bills because reimbursements have come down. What does that mean? Patients suffer, in my opinion. So health care today, that’s a real problem. Jamming everybody and cramming it all in trying to get it done so that you can make this buck and economically driven in a way I don’t like a very fair assessment. So listen.
Rob Oliver: Garry, thank you so much for being here. I want to say I appreciate your perspective on healthcare.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.