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« Trust Your Inner Voice | Main | Kathryn Schulz - TED Talk "On Being Wrong" »

Physician Income: Adding A Nutriceutical Pharmacy

By Dr. Dean Raffelock D.C., Dipl. Ac., CCN, DIBAK

Many fine physicians I know have been struggling with working longer hours for significantly decreasing revenues.

The dilemma they face is that they want to be able to spend enough time with their patients to provide quality health care but feel pressured and handcuffed by insurance company dictates. This problem has gotten so troubling for some that they question whether all the hard work and investment in medical school has been worth their present frustrations. These frustrations increase stress levels, potentially harming the physician’s own health. Some even question staying in practice.

There are a number of possible solutions to this dilemma. Some with busy practices with motivated patients establish concierge practices. Yearly fees for joining offer patients more quality time with their doctor. Insurance companies are still billed for services rendered but the entry fee often covers basic overhead and sometimes more. This allows patients to receive better health care and guarantees the physician a baseline income that can allow them to practice in a more thorough, less hurried manner while retaining more profit.

Here’s another solution that is becoming increasingly more popular. I have coached many doctors to establish their own ‘in office’ nutriceutical pharmacy. Many physicians have significantly increased their incomes by taking evidence-based seminars on nutritional interventions for common diseases and providing their patients with ‘doctor only’ professional grade nutritional products. This is a win/win for doctors and their patients. Most patients would much prefer to take nutritional products over pharmaceuticals whenever possible and prudent.

Here’s how establishing a nutritional pharmacy can work. Let’s use the example of prescribing Niaspan (niacin) to help lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol and even more importantly lower Lp(a). If one prescribes Niaspan, the pharmaceutical company and the dispensing pharmacy make all the profit. On the other hand, if you dispense professional grade niacin out of your office, you make $15 on a $30 dollar bottle than provides 120 tablets of 500 milligrams each. In many cases the co-pay for Niaspan is more than 30 dollars.

If the patient’s liver enzymes elevate on the niacin, a standardized extract of milk thistle herb containing 80% silymarin very effectively restores liver enzymes to normal range in most cases. The win/win is that your patient gets to keep taking a highly effective cardiovascular intervention and receive all the hepato-protective effects of the herbal extract and you have just added a continuing monthly profit of $35 for the one patient.

If you choose to provide this same cardiovascular risk patient with high quality fish oil (Lovaza is massively overpriced and every bottle I’ve tested is rancid), ubiquinol (a superior form of CoQ10), and D-ribose to enhance heart muscle endurance; you now have an ongoing monthly profit of over $100 with this one patient. Plus the patient will thank you for how much better they feel.

About: Dr. Dean Raffelock is a nationally known expert in integrative health care and consults for physicians nation-wide at Raffelock and Associates. You may contact him at 303.541.9019. 

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The telephone number for Raffelock and Associates is 303-541-9019

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