Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Importance of Being Earnest

I am just coming to the end of the long process of self evaluation necessary to continue being a registered member of the Society of Homeopaths. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) encompasses the growth and practice of your business, evaluating effectiveness, self reflection, learning and fulfillment. As part of this process I have had to address how it is that I want to work.

When I graduated from college as a homeopath, I imagined that my charm would be enough to bring patients to my door (ah I was young and naive then!). Although I do have a steady stream of patients who refer to each other, folk who respond to a poster I put up or a talk I give - there are many people out there who have no idea what I do or how I can help them. There are many people out there who can't afford my services. I want to reach them! I don't want homeopathy to remain the preserve of the elite few who can afford it (although your health is worth saving up for) I want to bring homeopathy to the masses.

So what to do? I can't reduce my prices any more - I'm already the cheapest homeopath in town and it's listed in the code of practice that we should all aim to charge similar amounts. So my plan is to reach out to the NHS and my local primary care trust (PCT) and ask them to consider referring patients to me. You see it has been shown that PCTs can actually save money by referring patients to alternative therapists. As strange as buying in another service to save money may seem, what complementary medicine does is reduce the need for costly drugs, put patients back in charge of their own health, focusing on prevention of illness as well as cure. Studies have shown that when doctors refer to complementary therapists, they reduce repeat visits to the surgery, improve patient satisfaction by dealing with complaints for which they have no solution and offer patient choice. In short, it makes them look good too.

So my new mission, as part of my CPD plan, is to become part of an integrated health care provision. I know being Earnest is not enough - I need to do my research and provide some good statistics. I just need to get a foot in the door and show them I mean business.