Honora Wolfe, Eric Strand and Marilyn Allen Blue Poppy Press, 2004 Paperback plus CD rom, 412 pages, $59.95
(Reviewed by Dany Lee, EJOM Vol. 4 No. 5)
This book is aimed at acupuncturists and even more particularly those that practice in the American market. The aim of the book is to provide a one-stop shop with all the information needed to run a successful, profitable acupuncture and Oriental medicine business. The authors are Honora Lee-Wolfe, wife of Bob Flaws, and Marilyn Allen who have been jointly running classes on practice management and marketing across the US for many years. They teamed up with a recent graduate acupuncturist, Eric Strand, who had built a successful practice within one year of graduating, and they set out to define formulas and strategies for reproducing that success for other practitioners within the Chinese medical community.
The book is very much aimed at the American market and on reading it I was struck by how different the marketplace is in America versus the English model. In general, the book is very well written and easy to read; there are great graphics throughout and with a short summary at the end of each, the book is very user friendly. Perhaps it is the mature nature of the American market which makes this book feel less relevant for the everyday English acupuncturist.
Within section one, the chapter about getting up and running is only relevant in the first instance about setting goals and there is some great advice, together with ideas for drumming up business in the first instance. The legal protocols are not relevant to the UK market, but perhaps they give an indication of where we may be moving once SSR is in place and the UK becomes more litigious in medical malpractice suits.
Section two goes on to talk about working on your own and business basics; again, there are some very helpful hints and ideas which can be adapted to the UK business environment, but much of it again feels very irrelevant to the UK market. Most acupuncturists in this country practice as sole traders and run their businesses from a self starting individual perspective, and much of the book is very business focussed with much talk of group practice and running clinics. I was particularly amused by the section on hiring and keeping people to work for you‚ and this highlights the sub topic of the book which is about running group practice clinics.
Section three is about money; perhaps there is something here that we can learn from the Americans, although the English way is patently very different. Exploring payment methods again highlights the differences between us; few of us take credit cards and medical insurance, plus all the nuances are still quite rare. Certainly, in my practice, health insurance accounts for less than 1% of my revenue and that may well change in the future.
The final section four deals with marketing your practice; there are some great ideas here, of course, from the world Capitalist HQ, and it is up to the individual practitioner to adapt those that they find inspiring or useful. In building my practice I used my previous career in marketing and advertising to help publicise my practice, although ultimately, for me, word of mouth has been the tree that has produced the most fruit in terms of patient referrals.
There is a CD rom which accompanies the book which included lots of forms and letters, business plan outline, web links and lots of other useful resource bits and pieces; again, not all of them are directly relevant to the UK market.
Overall, the book is interesting and would be a very useful addition to training college libraries, but at a dollar cost of $59.95 the UK price will be prohibitively costly for many acupuncturists.
Dany Lee Dany Lee is an acupuncturist and herbalist with a successful practice in Covent Garden. She has been practising for five years and is a strong advocate of continued professional development for practitioners.