Chris Tomshack HealthSource 

HealthSource evolves the chiropractic industry by offering a range of services

that form a holistic approach to healthcare. 

By Tim O’Connor, Knighthouse Media

Opioid overdoes is one of the biggest crises facing the United States health industry. Addiction to opioids stems from overzealous prescriptions and was responsible for 33,000 American deaths in 2015, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Government agencies, insurers and healthcare providers are scrambling to address the epidemic while pushing doctors to prescribe fewer pain relievers. A growing number of states, counties and cities across the country have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing and misrepresenting opioids.

The shift away from opioids has left doctors looking for other ways to treat chronic pain. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set guidelines limiting when doctors should prescribe opioids and in 2017 the American College of Physicians recommended spinal manipulation as one alternative to opioids for patients with non-radicular low back pain. The endorsement validated something chiropractors across the country have long known: there are more holistic ways of treating pain. “Those two statements together really paved the way for what we do,” Chris Tomshack, CEO of HealthSource, one of the nation’s largest providers of chiropractic services.

Companies are following suit. Before prescribing a potentially addictive drug or scheduling an invasive and risky surgery, businesses and their insurers are steering employees toward lower impact options, such as chiropractic medicine, as the first mode of treatment. A study from The Journal of American Board of Family Medicine found that chiropractic care reduces primary care physician visits by 370,000 and saves $83.5 million in national healthcare costs. 

By increasing its nationwide footprint, HealthSource believes it can create even more savings and deliver better outcomes for people suffering from all sorts of pain. The company’s system wide revenue reached $125 million last year, and store-to-store sale rose 11 percent from the previous quarter, demonstrating a growing demand for chiropractic services.

Chiropractic Hub

Because it offers an alternative to drug-based healing, millennials in particular have been drawn to HealthSource. Millennials tend to avoid large institutions, prefer holistic care to prescription drugs and have an aversion to high healthcare costs. “They are not at all opposed to looking at the complementary healthcare market, of which we are one of the main drivers,” Tomshack says.

As a alternative to traditional healthcare, HealthSource fits all of those criteria. With millennials now outnumbering baby boomers by nearly 8 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they are one of the most important demographics for wellness-related businesses.

To cater to that audience, Tomshack believes the industry must rethink its model and deliver better results. HealthSource spends a significant amount of energy tracking the latest research, identifying what’s scalable and training its doctors on new procedures. “In the chiropractic form of healthcare we need a big emphasis on evolution and best practices,” Tomshack says.

Those efforts have led HealthSource to pioneer changes such as switching from the old school rehab model that used weights and machines to full-body motion exercises. Emphasizing motion helps stimulate the smaller muscles that are often ignored by traditional weight lifting but may contribute equally to injuries. The company has also recognized the importance of diet in rehabilitation and developed a line of high-quality nutritional supplements that help feed recovery.

HealthSource’s most recent addition is deep tissue massage, which uses intense pressure to break up adhesions in the muscle and remove knots. “We now do deep tissue relief, which may not be as relaxing as a massage, but when we’re done you feel a lot better,” Tomshack notes.

Providing treatments that go beyond spinal and joint adjustments have transformed HealthSource into a true chiropractic hub. Other services include rehabilitation, nutritional counseling, cold laser and kinesiology taping.

“Everything we do is built to make the effects of that better and longer lasting,” Tomshack says. HealthSource first married physical therapy with chiropractic care and is now adding services to address joints not only in the skeleton, but also the muscles and tissues that support it. A problem in the spine is often concurrent with muscle issues, so treating both leads to exponentially better long term results.

“Our product is the best on the market,” Tomshack boasts. “We firmly believe that we’re committed to keeping it the best on the market.”

Supporting Growth

Tomshack has a diversified background in the chiropractic industry. In addition to his chiropractor license, he has a Bachelor of Business Administration along with MBA coursework and used those lessons to start his own practice. His success later led to him opening another three locations and by 2004 he had retired from active practice to commit to overseeing the operations of his four clinics. By then, he had gotten everything so systemized that he could theoretically open a new clinic every 90 days, but he needed a different mechanism to pursue that kind of growth. A year later, Tomshack founded HealthSource as a means to evolve the industry through franchising.

“Everything was so well monitored and so systematic that it made it easy to scale up,” Tomshack said. Sixty HealthSource clinics opened in the first year alone. “We were able to onboard and teach all our franchisees to run our systems when it could have been catastrophic.”

In the 12 years since, HealthSource has grown to nearly 300 locations and is on pace to add another 50 clinics this year. That expansion did not come easy. Tomshack says he made many of the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when they reach for the second level after finding initial success. “It took a lot of evolution on our part to be able to make the jump into the second decade,” he says.

Primarily, as the organization grew to support more clinics, he tried to fit people into bigger roles they weren’t ready for out of personal loyalty. It didn’t work, and Tomshack was eventually forced to bring in people with specific skill sets who could better manage a large franchise organization. The entire C-suite executive team, from operations to marketing, has been rebuilt over the past three years. “That was a difficult process to get started but it was one that was absolutely necessary,” Tomshack explains. “We look out and source the very best talent we can find and we buy that talent and bring them into HealthSource.”

As it replaced its leadership, HealthSource also created a new franchise support team to facilitate more involvement with its clinics.  The 16 members of the franchise support team live across the country and are tasked with visiting each HealthSource practice every 35 days – a level of commitment not seen before in the chiropractic industry. “They are in the doors seeing exactly what’s going on so they can supply hands-on support to our franchisees,” Tomshack notes.


But as often as the franchise support team visits, they can’t guarantee that everything is running smoothly at all times. That’s where HealthSource needs well-trained employees who understand their roles and how they should serve the customer. The company runs HealthSource University, a five-day, in-person intensive program for all new franchise owners and their teams. But the work actually begins even earlier, with an onboarding process that includes step-by-step videos, interactive materials and phone training that are meant to make the owner more receptive to the full HealthSource University program. “We want them to be well-equipped for success,” Tomshack says.

But some of those things learned at HealthSource University can be forgotten in time. To facilitate ongoing training, the company has developed the chiropractic industry’s first learning management tool, an online assessment designed to teach and evaluate staff. 

The web-based courses run about 12 weeks and can be finished either at home in the office, according to the franchisee’s discretion. The classes are designed to teach employees their complete responsibilities from the time they come in and turn the lights on to when they head home for the day. The online training helps to cover some of the fundamentals of HealthSource’s system that could otherwise be lost over time. 

“It’s a very encompassing program,” Tomshack says. “We found the need for it.” The program was revealed to franchisees this spring and will be offered to owners at no cost to encourage adoption. “Healthcare is not the simplest model out there so it requires refreshers from time to time,” he adds.

Those kinds of support systems will help HealthSource ensure a consistent client experience as the company continues to expand from the eastern part of the country into the Midwest. Recently, HealthSource added two locations in Texas and it is growing its sales team to support more locations.

As that growth occurs, the makeup of HealthSource’s franchisees is changing. The company has traditionally appealed to chiropractors, which make up about 90 percent of the owner base. However, Tomshack wants to eventually see an even balance between chiropractor owners and franchisees with business sense but no prior experience in the industry. About 75 percent of recent franchisees have come from that latter demographic. “Our largest growth right now is with non-chiropractor owners,” he says. “It’s with business people who are becoming franchisees.”

Experienced business owners are becoming a bigger portion of HealthSource’s ownership group because the company has made it so easy for them to enter the industry. HealthSource’s support team handles much of the startup process, from site selection clinic layout and negotiating with preferred vendors. The process is so automated that it’s gotten to the point where a truck filled with everything the franchisee needs can simply back up to a vanilla storefront and empty out a crew that will install everything, from the light bulbs and electrical sockets to the sinks. It then follows up the build out by providing marketing materials, operations guide and anything else needed to run the business.

“It’s a turnkey program now and it took a while to get it there,” Tomshack says. “We’ve taken all that concern off their shoulders.”

Tomshack’s goal is to grow HealthSource to 1,000 clinics over the next nine years. To do so, it will have to expand internationally. The company is already looking at locations in Great Britain, Ireland and Canada and it could eventually spread as far as New Zealand and Australia. “What we do changes lives,” Tomshack says. “It really matters. There’s only so many businesses that can state they are really changing lives.”


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