Dr. Todd Osborne and Communicating the Upper Cervical Message

Dr. Todd Osborne

Dr-Todd-Osborne -Communicating-the-Upper-Cervical-MessageDr. Todd Osborne otherwise known as "Dr. Oz" has been a practicing upper cervical chiropractor for over 25 years. Dr. Oz is also known for his work in coaching and consulting thousands of chiropractors through the AMC group. Dr. Oz will be one of the speakers featured at this year's Upper Cervical Experience Event. Dr. Oz is known as a master communicator of upper cervical and has built extremely successful referral based Atlas Orthogonal practices.

Dr. Oz and I talked about getting his first upper cervical correction from the legendary Dr. Roy Sweat in front of a large audience, how he grew his small town upper cervical practice in Farmer City Illinois to over 300 visits per week and why he thinks that upper cervical is uniquely positioned within the chiropractic profession for long-term success. You are going to love it!

Introduction to Upper Cervical

Dr. Bill Davis:    Dr. Oz, pleasure to speak with you today. I am excited to talk with you I’ve known you for a while. I always have respected your work in upper cervical and just to help chiropractors in general.

Dr. Todd Osborne:    Well, thank you! I appreciate you having me on here. Dr. Bill it is great to talk to you. And I appreciate all the things that you’re doing for Upper cervical and upper cervical  chiropractors.

Dr. Bill Davis:    Alright. Well, Dr. Oz, I’d like to get started with hearing your back story and how you got into chiropractic to begin with. What got you going towards being a chiropractor?

Dr. Osborne:      Well, like for many it was my own Chiropractic experience when I was 14 years old. I was the starting catcher on my High School varsity team and I had had some issues with low back problems, even when I was starting with middle school 6th grade. However, part of that, I relate back to now, I had Legg-Calve-Perthes as a kid.

And from age 5 to 7, I wore a steel brace from on one leg that kept it suspended up off the ground and about a four-inch build up shoe on the other leg. So, you can only imagine my gait wasn't what I would call symmetrical. But, nonetheless fortunately I had parents that did not tell me I was handicapped. I didn't know I was handicapped, so I just did everything that any normal 5 to 7 year old boy would do, including playing little league baseball.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I think that probably although my leg came out of it great, my femur and everything came out great, I think it created some problems.

We had a local osteopath in our little country town. And I went on and off to them and they manipulated my lower back. I did get some relief but this time it was worst than it had ever been.

Definitely in this syndrome, I had antalagia. Looking back on it now, I can self diagnose the antalgic posture and the pain going down into my leg. This ostheopath, had manipulated me a couple of times. And it was just not getting better. I was sitting out a practices and I think I had missed a couple of baseball games, which for me at the time was devastating. He started talking about sending me to a surgeon.

Fortunately, I had a baseball coach that said I don’t know if he did this for his baseball team or for me, but anyway it worked out. He said, “Listen, I need you back in the line up. You need to go see my chiropractor.” He’s the only guy that can get my hip back in place. And as a result of that, I went to the chiropractor and the rest is history. After a matter of few visits, I was coming out of it feeling better obviously and healing. At age 14 I decided to be a chiropractor. So that is my background of how I decided to jump into chiropractic.

Dr. Bill Davis:      Very Cool. There’s a lot of 14 year old kids who do not know what they wanted to do, but you did. That is very interesting.

I was just going to say from there, did you actually get upper cervical while you were on school? Or did you do that before you got to school?

Dr. Osborne:      No, I actually had seen an activator practitioner when I was a patient and he sent me to Palmer.  He said, “Go to Palmer and when you come out come in and be my associate.”

While I was at Palmer, I was very interested in upper cervical. But at the time it was essentially just HIO toggle was there. There wasn’t much else going on in the upper cervical side of things. From what I know now obviously, knowing I was going to come out and be an associate with an activator doctor, I was having a lot of difficulty.

I was really drawn to upper cervical but I knew I was going to use an activator on the lower spine. So I did not quite know how to explain to people that I am going to use this instrument that is high speed, lower amplitude instrument in your lower spine. But I’m going to hit your atlas with 40 pounds of force.

It just kind of didn’t fit so I never really got into practicing upper cervical chiropractic two years in my associate-ship and then I went out in my own practice. And once I was in my own practice, a friend of mine and classmate who was into upper cervical called me up and said, “Hey, you know what, Dr. Sweat is going to be up in Davenport, Iowa. It is his first time he’s ever been up there, we really need to go up and support him?” I was like, “I really don’t care to.” And he goes, “Come on, it will be like old times. Come with me, and we’ll spend the weekend up there. You can go to the seminar with me and we’ll just hangout.” I said, “Okay that sounds fair.” And he said, “On the way up, stop by my office and let’s get some upper cervical films on you so Dr. Sweat can adjust you.

This was before Palmer would allow him on campus. And Dr. Sweat which I think Palmer owns it now, used to be I think the old Knights of Columbus Hall? Or whatever it was down the hill.

But anyway that is where he had the seminar. Dr. Mason took my films and they got them analyzed. At the first break Dr. Mason was like, “Get up there, get up there and let Dr. Sweat adjust you.” He did, and I still remember to this day when I set up off the table he had done my scanning palpation and I was just cringing I was so sore up over those upper cervical nerve roots. I was just cringing in front of everyone.

And he laid me down, adjusted me with the instrument which of course, all I thought was what was that? What just happened there? And, he sat me up, and that scanning palpation all of the sudden was gone. I actually just started giggling.

To this day I don’t know if I was just laughing because I was so confused with what had just happened or if I actually had an emotional release from the adjustment it may have been a combination of both. But I was just laughing in front of about 30 students because I was like “What in the world was that?” Obviously, it made such an impact on me that I immediately went home and grabbed all of Dr. Mason’s AO books on the way home and I just started to studying and eating it up. That was about early 1992.

I graduated from Palmer in ‘89, so I have been out two and a half years, going on three years when I really dove in. By the end of ’92, I definitely had incorporated the Atlas Orthogonal Program into my practice. And have been doing that ever since.

Dr. Bill Davis:      Very Cool. So your first Atlas Orthogonal Adjustment was in front of all the students right there at the seminar?

Dr. Osborne:      Yeah, it was Dr. Sweat’s first ever seminar up in Davenport. And I was the first one. He was just making an example of me to make sure the students got it.  It was life changing for me. Obviously now I am thrilled because my daughter who was actually born when Marcy and I were at Palmer has now graduated and she is practicing in Chattanooga Tennessee and doing the Atlas Orthogonal work here.


Building a Large Practice in a Small Town

Dr. Bill Davis:      Very Cool. Where you first practiced was it Farmer City, Illinois?

Dr. Osborne:      Yeah, I was an associate in Carthage, Illinois, for two years, with Dr. Dick Figgins. And then I bought a practice, kind of a very small practice in Farmer City. That is where I started and brought the upper cervical work there.

Dr. Bill Davis:      I know from my understanding of you, you were able to build up a real nice practice over there and train a bunch of associates and whatnot. Can you talk about that, as far as your growth in practice?

Dr. Osborne:      Yeah. Absolutely. I actually bought a practice from a widow, from a doctor who had died six months previously. And I always tell everyone, don’t do that that’s not a way to start a practice that’s been essentially closed for 6 months.

Fortunately by the grace of God and some loyalty, the patients that this doctor has had over time, I able to kind of get started and get going. I slowly built that practice up and built it up to about 130 to 140 patients visits a week.

I have learned from seminars and my associateship it came to that point that I was building a new office. I started with about 750 square foot it was a converted garage. I practiced there for my first 5 years.

I was building a new office and I had figured out that this was going to be the first year that I hadn’t grown in practice. So I kind of thought, “Gosh, maybe I need to take a look at things.” So that’s when I found AMC and joined with AMC.

Within four months, they have taken my practice up over 300 patient visits a week. Then, I have been fortunate to have several associates that came on board with me and trained. One of those is Dr. Jeff Zehr he is up in Michigan now, and has his own upper cervical practice up there and is going fantastically well.  Another one took over my Farmer City practice when I left to come to Chattanooga. And he is still doing fantastically well up there.

We’ve been very blessed being able to take care of a lot of folks and being able to train some other people to do that too. I feel that God has really blessed me in that.

Dr. Bill Davis:      That’s awesome. You mentioned AMC, and I know that you’ve been a consultant and coach with AMC for quite some time and in the leadership there as well. Can you talk about AMC and the program that AMC offers?

I have personally been helped by them when I was in practice as well. Talk about that. Talk about the AMC program, and how it helps doctors.

Dr. Osborne:      Sure. Like you said, like you, I was an AMC client to start with. They obviously did great things in my practice. I had great technique, I got great results, and great chiropractic philosophy. But my practice just quit growing.

I got a hold of their program and it just fit hand-in-hand with what I was doing. And they were able to obviously over-double my practice. We went on to triple that practice before it was all said and done.

I just love the way they had a program that if you didn’t grow you didn’t know.  And so I really had nothing to lose when I signed up with them. Obviously the blessings, I guess I would say and being able to help other chiropractors. I got involved with coaching and that has escalated to I guess I’m vice president of the company now.

I have been able to help hundreds if not thousands, of chiropractors over the last gosh, let’s see I’m getting old Dr. Bill. About 15 years and I joined them in ’98. It’s going on quite a few years. Then, I started working as a consultant with them around 2000 or 2001 is when I got into that.

Our program is set-up to help chiropractors that are really practicing chiropractic. We seem to do very well with really all sizes of chiropractors if you will but, the ones we do the very best are the ones that have a solid philosophy of chiropractic.

I think that is one of the reasons AMC has done so well with upper cervical chiropractors over the years. We help all the flavors of chiropractors, if you will. But, the Upper cervical Chiropractors have done extremely well. And I think a lot of that is based on this obvious philosophical foundation that upper cervical chiropractors operate under.      

Dr. Bill Davis:      Sure. Absolutely. I know philosophy goes hand in hand with upper cervical.

Dr. Osborne:      Absolutely.  I would just say, if I could sum up the AMC program, it’s being able to communicate with patients. And that is what they did for me. They gave me very simple ways to communicate with patients. I had tried all kinds of educational processes and videos with complicated charts and handouts - and all things of that nature.        

What I found with AMC was that you could explain it very simply, so that patients would understand it and they would get it. I think that is one of the problems we have in chiropractic and in particular with upper cervical chiropractors. It is that we want to be so involved explaining that Upper cervical part. That’s important, but not at that point in time for a lot of patients.

We can educate them over time, but that is not the beginning phase of what they are there for. They are not really open to that. So, the AMC system allows you to communicate very simply. And then, train and educate them over time.

That is where the blessing came in. For me, is being able to communicate better with patients.

Dr. Bill Davis:      Yeah, and that is so important. You can be the greatest technician out there and fail in practice. If you can’t communicate what you do and get people in the door to help them.

Dr. Osborne:      That is absolutely true and we see that across chiropractic but in particularly, I see that in the upper cervical ranks. It just breaks my heart.  Because I see so many upper cervical Chiropractors have so much to offer to humanity. But, they can’t make it in business and therefore, they are not helping anyone because they can’t stay in business.

I always say, there’s two techniques in your office. There’s your adjusting technique, or your patient care technique if you will, and there is your patient management or patient communication technique.” Especially we see this with upper cervical Doctors who will spend thousands of hours, thousands of dollars on learning their adjusting technique and perfecting that. But, how much money and time do we spend on the other technique to be able to communicate this so we get to utilize our adjusting technique?

And that is what my real purpose is. And what I do with AMC is try to get both of those techniques if you will top notch. When you get them both working together, then that’s when you see some incredible practices and people helping a lot of folks.


Communicating Upper Cervical

Dr. Bill Davis:      That is right. When I first came out of school, I went to LACC (Lacks All Chiropractic Curriculum). My philosophy was pretty weak and my ability to communicate with what I was doing with chiropractic was very weak. And I know in my first year in practice, I went to about 12 seminars including I think eight AMC seminars, and four NUCCA seminars.

I was definitely, doing what you’re talking about trying to build up both sides of my practice to a level of excellence that I can be proud of. It is a weakness that I see as well, that doctors come out of school and they may have really studied their technique but, they are not able to communicate at all.

The other side is, they are not able to market. If you don’t have enough of a patient base then you can’t grow that patient base to a significant level through referrals. I want you to talk about that.

You’ve been around AMC working with doctors a long time. And I know you’ve seen alot of different marketing approaches. What are some of the marketing approaches that you have found to be most effective to help doctors the most over the years?

Dr. Osborne:      That’s an interesting question because, marketing has changed so much over the 25 years. I think it has probably been ever-changing as we know with technologies today and so forth I think marketing is changing faster than ever.

There was a time when newspaper advertising worked extremely well. Here's the thing that I have found over the entire phase of all the marketing. Whether it’s newspaper work, TV work, direct-mail work, or Internet work. All of those things kind of have their ebb and flow. But here's the thing, that I would say that I have found that works, and it’s worked across the board, in whatever marketing era that we have been in. That is doctors getting personally interaction with people.

Whether that means screenings, whether that means doing health talks, whether that means doing your patient orientation or healthcare class in your office, out meeting people, doing surveys, whatever that might be that is foundational. Now, the other thing that I’ll say about that is, that also helps all of your other marketing do better.

Dr. Todd Osborne and Communicating the Upper Cervical Message
Dr. Todd Osborne and Communicating the Upper Cervical Message
Dr. Todd Osborne and Communicating the Upper Cervical Message

If you're recognizable, people will recognize you. Then, when they see your marketing, they are more likely to read that whether that's on Facebook, the Internet, newspaper ad or whatever the case might be. And that just helps the rest of your marketing.

That’s what we have found most recently with my daughter growing her practice here in Chattanooga, we are about a year and a half into the practice. It really has been getting out into the community and educating the community. Introducing herself, meeting people and getting connected, and those type of things have just been instrumental in growing our practice.

Dr. Bill Davis:      Right. Here is something that I have learned from AMC too. Your existing patients need tools to refer. Every doctor who wants an internal referral based practice that’s really generating a lot of internal referrals. It is not something that you should just sit back and wait for. Would you agree with that doc?

Dr. Osborne:      Absolutely. You have to build referrals. That should be everybody's goal - to get to a point where you are mostly an Internal marketing practice. Not that you wouldn't do any external marketing. As you should always be doing some whether it be online with UpperCervicalMarketing.com or whatever’s working best for your practice.

But in the beginning stages, you need to get out there and build it. As your practice grows, you should get to a point where it is a truly a referral based practice. And, like you said, if you don't have a patient base though, you can’t get referrals from them.

Once you do have that base then absolutely giving your patients number one, the education so that they can refer. Number two, making sure they know they’re supposed to refer because the medical field has its own referral network. They refer each other, but chiropractors don't do that. So we need our patients to refer.

Just letting the patients know that they need to refer, and then giving them the tools, to make it as easy as possible for them to refer. And get people in the door if you will so they can find out if Chiropractic is an answer for them.

Dr. Bill Davis:      Absolutely. And that's a great point. A lot of patients may not know that they are supposed to refer people to you. It is one of these things where they might go to other doctors and it may not be even be on their radar that they’re supposed to refer people to you unless you tell them. And you help them to see why that's important and how they can do that.

Some of these things that you mentioned like healthcare classes, community outreach type of events, and internal marketing programs with a tool like a health certificate or the old teach to testify.

All those type of things that I have learned through AMC that have just been extremely valuable and helping people get those tools to be able to tell others and to be able to bring them to your office. It is more than just sitting back and waiting for them to refer others.

Dr. Osborne:      Absolutely. You know, you and I know this and I’ve talked about it for years. Especially in the upper cervical community we tend to get tied-in into our technique. Our technique is going to do it all for us. As long as we get that adjustment down and we’re clearing people out and they’re getting well boy they are just going to send hundreds of people over here. And it does not work that way.

That is why we have a lot of upper cervical doctors that struggle or maybe even go out of business because they were depending on that end of it. In today's market it just doesn’t work that way. They have to be able to have the skills to train, or educate to encourage people to refer. And then give them the tools to be able to go out and make it as easy as possible to refer. And, you kind of have to help build that portion of your practice or what would be the word for it. Give them the tools to be able to go out and make it as easy as possible to refer.

You kind of have to build that portion of your practice or train your practice to create an environment. It just doesn't happen spontaneously on its own.

The Cream Rises to the Top

Dr. Bill Davis:      Yeah. Exactly. Absolutely.

Another thing that I want to talk with you about and it kind of goes with what we were just talking about is being able to communicate what we're doing and have tools in place and that type of thing.  And that goes well with the big event coming up in the upper cervical community and that’s the Upper Cervical Experience event.

I know you're involved in that as well and I believe you are going to be speaking in that event. So, I’d like to hear you talk about what you are thinking about speaking about when you and a little bit more about that event as well.

What's Ahead of the Chiropractic Profession

Dr. Osborne:      Very good. I am extremely excited about the event coming up, the experience. I have been asked to be a speaker so, I am number one very honored to be coming to that. But more so than me speaking I'm just excited that this seems to be kind of a step-by-step process and there has been several upper cervical programs out there over the years.

This seems to be the one that is bringing everybody together. I think if we want to advance this thing moving forward, we really need to get together on it.

When it comes to technique and those things we are always going to have our differences. But, I think what we really need to realize is that as long as we keep talking about our differences we are never going to infiltrate the healthcare system the way we should be doing.

As a collective if we can get together and talk about the things we agree on, and really honestly work on all of us becoming better at what we are doing moving forward. Then I think we have a very good chance of really bringing upper cervical chiropractic into true healthcare, which is what is needed obviously in the country. It’s needed it for years and years but we have been squelched out by the medical community and ourselves to be honest with that from our in fighting.

I'm just really excited that we are poised if you will in my opinion with the current research that is going on right now. Taking upper cervical to another level, I don't think we are going to do that unless we get together and start pushing forward together.

I'm just really excited about that and I’m just really excited to address these chiropractors and just talk about that. Where we stand right now, and where we're going to move to in the future as a group, and what we need to do to get there how we can all be our very best. From the technique side, from our patient communication, and management side right on down the road.

I just think that chiropractic is at a point right now that you can look at it really negatively, looking at what is going on across the landscape of chiropractic. I will be honest with you; I do not know what is going to happen to chiropractic in general.

What I do know is this. I do know that there is going to be a collective of upper cervical chiropractors that are going to step over the pile when it is all said and done and the smoke clears. We are going to keep on doing what we know is right in helping hundreds of people.

What happens in the general chiropractic community, I'm just not sure where it's going to go. But, I know that we, as Upper Cervical Chiropractors are going to move this thing forward. It's way too good for it not to survive.

I'm just excited we are all getting together collectively to start forming that coalition or that group if you will. I think over the next 10 or 20 years, we may be the supreme part of Chiropractic that caries it on if you will.

Dr. Bill Davis:      Dr. Oz you're pumping me up now. But you know it's great to hear from you and I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a bunch of people that are involved with the Upper Cervical Experience.

I keep hearing the same type of things that it's time for us to unify in the things that we’re similar in and the areas where we are the same. And really come together and push things forward because like you said, research has never been as good as it has been in the past 5 or 10 years.

It seems like it is just getting better and better. And we are just going to get more and more opportunities to be able to do this kind of research. When those opportunities come, more and more people are going to know about upper cervical.

It's an exciting time to be an upper cervical doctor and an exciting time to be involved in those events. And so, if you haven’t registered for the Upper Cervical Experience, what are you waiting for? It's going to be an awesome event. Dr. Oz is going to be there and I'm going to be there and tons of great speakers.

I'm really looking forward to hearing you speak there. Also, if you're at the point in your practice where you feel that you are not communicating the way you should or if you are not building that internal referral based practice that you want to and you really feel like you need some help then AMC is the organization that is there to help chiropractors in that way.

Anything else doc, to you say to our audience? We got students and upper cervical doctors throughout the country and around the world. Anything else you'd like to share?

Dr. Osborne:      I would just say the same thing you were referring to there Dr. Bill, if you are interested in upper cervical or are an upper cervical doctor, then you're absolutely foolish not to get to the Upper Cervical Experience.

I think that it's going to be fantastic and it will help you grow your practice in doing so. To the students out there and other chiropractors that your blog speaks to, we just got to hang in there and keep doing what is right. Upper cervical is right there is no doubt about that.

Chiropractic helps everybody, but the upper cervical takes that up to another level. I have seen that in my practice and I’ve seen it in hundreds of other practices. I would just encourage them to hang in there with it and to steal a quote from one of my mentors, Dr. Sweat, "Keep doing the right thing, the cream rises to the top eventually." 

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!

Let's work together to bring upper cervical to the masses!!!!!!

About the Author: Dr. Bill Davis
Dr. Bill Davis is the Founder and CEO of uppercervicalmarketing.com. His goal is to spread the word about the best-kept secret in health through Upper Cervical Specific Business and Marketing Solutions.
We understand the pain of losing valuable time and money… and what it can be like to hate your marketing. That’s why we specialize exclusively in upper cervical care and chiropractic online marketing.
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