We recently interviewed Dr. Kerry Johnson of Apple Valley Minnesota who has been a practicing upper cervical chiropractor for over 28 years. Dr. Johnson has been able to build an extremely successful upper cervical practice by utilizing technological tools to help him communicate upper cervical and promote referrals. Dr. Johnson will also be at the upcoming Upper Cervical Experience Event in New Orleans.
In this interview we discussed why new doctors talk too much, how to get the spouse on board and how showing someone their actual misalignment can make all the difference. You will love it!
Dr. Bill: Alright. So, today, we're just talking about a variety of things that you're up to. I know you're a busy guy with a great practice and also helping Upper Cervical doctors with some incredible software that I know a lot of Upper Cervical doctors are using now and so I have a lot to cover today and let's get started.
So, Dr. Johnson, let's start out with a little background of how you got into chiropractic and what drew you to be a chiropractor originally?
Dr. Kerry: I was a year out of college, not really knowing what I wanted to do thenI fell about twenty five feet off a ladder and hurt my back.
After about three weeks of having a knife sticking in my lower back, I saw my dad's 100 visit a day Gonstead doctor. After that first visit I knew my career path and so a year and a half later I enrolled at Life University in Atlanta. A change of pace from the Midwest sounded good to me!
As my education there progressed my lower back continually regressed to the point where I couldn't sit in a desk anymore. Most afternoons I was either laying on the floor or standing in the back in class taking my notes. I tried all the techniques and even other PT stuff. I sought out those doctors with a reputation for being very good at their technique. Nothing helped. I was told by more than one doctor that I needed surgery. So here I was, studying to become a chiropractor and chiropractic wasn’t helping with my own problem.
One day a classmate recommended a chiropractor on the south side of Atlanta, about an hour’s drive telling me he had helped his girlfriend. So the next week I’m sitting in a funny chair getting x-rays of my neck and then told to come back the next day. That day he laid me on my side on a little table about a foot off the ground and as he was palpating my neck he announced that he had made the correction, sat me in the funny chair for two more x-rays and then sent me up front where they promptly charged me, albeit only $10.
Driving home, I was really rather upset about the entire experience, the time, the cost, all for nothing! But the next day I’m tooling down the hallway of our mobile home with the vacuum and it suddenly occurred to me there was no pain in my lower back. I can only think of one episode of lower back pain since that first upper cervical correction 31 years ago. Dr. Hugh Crowe shifted my paradigm and I’ve never looked back!
Dr. Bill: Very Cool. Yeah, that's great. That's an incredible personal experience and then, learned about Upper Cervical while you were in school and then, went up to Minnesota from there right? You are in Apple Valley Minnesota correct?
Dr. Kerry: Yeah sure ya betcha! It was only by God’s grace that I survived those first few years in practice. I thought the hard work was over when I got the degree. I didn’t know people don’t just walk into your office once the shingle is hung. No one told me I had to go out and teach people about upper cervical in order to attract them as patients. Once I figured out that part of the deal I have never stopped looking for better ways to do that.
Dr. Bill: Very cool. And so you started out in practice, struggled for a while, eventually, got some tools that really started helping you. So, tell me a little bit about your practice, how it's grown over the years, some of the things that you've been able to utilize to help you grow your practice, help you to help more people in your area?
Dr. Kerry: I owe my success to others. I have engaged three or four practice management companies over the years and have come to learn there’s always people who know a lot more than I do and so I learned to ask a lot of questions: in marketing, patient management and technique.
Of course it’s easy to sell something that really works. I just had a guy in his mid-thirties this past week who was literally dying from asthma. The moring after his second correction his breathing was 100% normal. Very humbling when people come in and use the “M” word!
Dr. Bill: Right. And so, you've been able to grow your practice. I know you've been able to help develop some associates as well and what have you found to be some of the most effective ways to communicate Upper Cervical to your patients?
Dr. Kerry: I was blessed to grow a very busy practice. One week in 1994 I saw 307 patients! Being the only NUCCA doctor in Minnesota, I realized there were way more people than I could help. It was then I decided to invite interns and associates into my practice and since then we have launched a dozen or so other doctors into upper cervical practice.
As far as effective ways to communicate, I believe it is a combination of things. In the Power of Upper Cervical video I remember Dr. Clark reminding us that we can’t talk in doctor to doctor language. We have to communicate with patients using language they understand.
Dr. Bill: Right.
Dr. Kerry: The other mistake many of us make is that we “throw up” on patients on their first few visits trying to undo their lifetime of allopathic thinking. Spread it out over time! We have three visits to convince a patient they need what we have to offer. Once that’s settled then we have the length of the care plan to strategically teach them about chiropractic as a lifestyle and teach them to refer.
Dr. Bill: True. Yeah. So, I know that over time, I'm not sure exactly when you developed it, but you had developed with a software designer a software that you are using in your practice and now you've made it available for other doctors to use too. And that's the MyChiroCorrection software and so tell me about that and tell me the genesis of that, how that developed and how are doctors using it most effectively in their practices?
Dr. Kerry: Sure. One morning about 6-7 years ago I had just finished what I felt was a smoking hot first report of findings. Afterward, the lady looked at me and said, “So what’s my problem?” I walked out of that report and I said to my X-ray tech "We have to find a way to show patients their misalignment beyond a set of x-rays and the 30 year old poster that's on my wall. We need a technology where patients can actually see their spine move in and out alignment according to their exact misalignment factors right before their eyes! And he responded with, “I think that we can do that." So this budding programmer and I collaborated for about two years to develop an entire new system for patient education.
Dr. Bill: Right.
Dr. Kerry: I used it personally in my own practice for a few years as we continued to add to it and improve it. I showed it to a few friends who told us the upper cervical community really needed it and encouraged us to make it available. Dr. Robert Brooks, being an early adaptor, took a look at it and became our very first customer. A month later he told the entire room full of NUCCA docs at our conference that we had something they all need and to go out and visit our table and find out how we can help them to grow their practice.
Dr. Bill: Right. Very cool. So, yeah, it started with the NUCCA procedure, right? But over time you've developed it for basically for all Upper Cervical techniques, correct?
Dr. Kerry: Yep! We have all learned the importance of setting ourselves apart from the pack through branding. My brand is NUCCA but there are other upper cervical brands as well that every successsful doctor works very hard to promote. Many simply use the “upper cervical” brand and we have that too. We programmed My ChiroCorrection to work for the specific listing systems of all upper cervical techniques - Knee Chest, Blair - we put all the names on it - Palmer, Kale. It's available to all of the groups.. So when you input the listing of your patient their exact misalignment will animate right before their eyes.
Dr. Bill: Very cool. And so, talk to me more about how is it used most effectively? You got a bunch of doctors across the US and Canada that are utilizing this software? So, how are they using it best? How is it working?
Dr. Kerry: I started off by sending patients home with a business-sized card that had their listing on it and I would tell them, “If you want your spouse or family to understand what’s going on with you make them sit down at the computer, log onto our website, plug in the numbers on this card so they can see your misalignment and make them go through each page clicking on the animations and reading the bite-sized narrative on each page. That, in and of itself, revolutionized my practice!
Dr. Bill: Right.
Dr. Kerry: From that moment, I never got push back from spouses anymore. When I recommended a plan of care on their next visit they just signed on the bottom line because their husband/wife already understood their problem and blessed them to proceed. We used to spend over a $100 a month on Dr. Clark’s booklets. They are great but when we asked our patients if they or their family actually read them we were very surprised.
Dr. Bill: Right.
Dr. Kerry: So after using it this way for awhile Dr. Scholten came up to me at a conference and said, "I love your program. It has made my report of findings so much smoother and easier. I barely spend any time explaining the actual x-rays anymore."
Dr. Bill: Right.
Dr. Kerry: Now it’s a blast to actually use the animations in my own report of findings because I get to see the light bulbs turn on right there on the spot!
There are other fun and effective ways to use My ChiroCorrection too. It a presentation module so, if you're doing public speaking or doing any kind of workshop at all and have an internet connection you can pop up the animations and powerfully get your message across.
We've made a lot of improvements over time. We have added a back office so It's completely editable now. If you don't like the narrative on a page simply change it! You can add and subtract pages. You have the ability to print full-color reports for patients without internet. We have a beautiful two page health professional referral report to send to professionals who refer patients to you. It’s a great way to teach them about your work as you are thanking them.
Dr. Bill: Yeah, I know, when I was in practice, I used it and I loved it and I know quite a few friends that use it, too, and it's really revolutionized a lot of these practices, like you said, doctor’s report of findings, especially and then, there's so much more to it.
Yeah, I mean, the software itself is just so well done and it sets you apart and it gives you a different level of sophistication and professionalism when you can show this type of animated software to a patient and actually see the misalignment, see how it's formed, see what it does to the body, see how it changes with the correction. Those pictures and that visual is just so much stronger than anything you could tell a patient.
Dr. Kerry: Absolutely. You know the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words."
Dr. Bill: Exactly.
Dr. Kerry: Exactly. It just made our work easier. It's incredible.
Dr. Bill: Yeah, I mean, for me, this is kind of a no-brainer for doctors. What are the costs associated with the My ChiroCorrection software at this point, Doc?
Dr. Kerry: You know, it's a couple hundred dollars set-up fee and it's 49 dollars a month. Best investment you'll ever make in marketing. Your next patient will be a referring patient.
Dr. Bill: Exactly, 49 dollars a month, I mean, that's a half a visit for most doctors, so that's something. If you just click through and look at this software and you figure that 49 dollars a month is just nothing compared to all the value you get for this.
Doc, I know that you're going to be at the Upper Cervical Experience coming up in a few weeks and I am, as well, so tell us a little bit about what you're going to be doing at the Upper Cervical Experience and what people can expect there.
Dr. Kerry: Well, first of all, I'm going because I am just really excited to see all the groups come together for one big, hugely impacting and successful conference, instead of everybody doing their own. I understand each techniques needs their own educational conferences but I'm really excited about the potential for Upper Cervical to unite into one force and you know I've been working towards that for years. I was one of the charter members of the AUCCO. So, since I'm going to be there anyways, my wife and I decided to have a table out back so doctors can come and take a look at what we have to help them in their practice.
Dr. Bill: Great. You'll be demonstrating your software there?
Dr. Kerry: Yeah. They can come to our table and actually try it out. I think I may have ten minutes on stage to share about it as well.
Dr. Bill: Excellent. Great. So, if you're interested in the My ChiroCorrection software, you can either go to the website, we’ll link to it from this article or if you're going to be at the Upper Cervical Experience, you can definitely stop by and see Dr. Johnson and get a rundown of what it all looks like and listen to him from the stage, as well.
Yeah, it's just a great product and I'm very excited to talk to you today, Doc. Anything else that you'd like to share with all the docs and the students that are reading this today?
Dr. Kerry: Well, just a really quick story. Many docs know I’ve had the good fortune of connecting into the sporting world in a rather large way. In the past few years I've seen several hundred elite hockey players in my practice, including NHL, D-1 college, high school and youth hockey. That all started with a patient who went home with her listing card and sat her husband down at the computer to show him her problem. He just happens to be a successful hockey agent and after one look at My ChiroCorrection said, "My hockey players and prospects need this care!"
Dr. Bill: That's great. What a great story, just a great demonstration of the power of this when not only that you can use it in your report of findings but then, when you send somebody home with it and like you said, it's just one of the most frustrating things in practice when a spouse is not on board, right? When you talk to that person and you know you can help them and you communicate that to them in the report of findings but their husband or their wife isn't there and they go home and next thing you know, they don't come back, right?
Dr. Kerry: Yes.
Dr. Bill: So, it's just that benefit of being able to have that for the doctor to have the tool but also for the patient to have the tool to educate others is just quite remarkable.
Dr. Kerry: It is! I’ve just hired another associate because of the demand. My own schedule is about two months out now for new patients and a large part of our success is due to My ChiroCorrection.
Dr. Bill: That's great, Doc. Well, I appreciate your time today and I appreciate you putting the time to create this software for all those Upper Cervical doctors out there to help them spread this message to the world and again, thank you very much Doc.
Dr. Kerry: You, too. I appreciate all you're doing to reach the public about Upper Cervical and its benefits and the resource that you are to our profession as well. So, thank you Dr. Bill!
Make sure you download our chiropractic marketing calendar below and put the upper cervical experience event on it along with all of the other marketing activities that you will be participating in this year.