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113: 40 years with Kathy Mills Chang

chiropractic business managment Mar 08, 2023
Kats Consultants
113: 40 years with Kathy Mills Chang

A Look at 40 Years with Kathy Mills Chang


Hi everybody. Welcome to the KC CHIROpulse podcast. I'm Dr. Michael Perusich, your host for the day. And I'm joined by my co-host, good friend and guest star of the show,  Kathy Mills Chang. Kathy, how are you? 


I am absolutely great. 


Awesome. Maybe a little chilly this moment, but otherwise really good. 


Well good.  


Well, hopefully the sun is out. I know. Wherever you are, it seems like the sun is always shining because you seem to bring it with you. Well, thank you. It is, you know, sunny in Colorado it could be four degrees, but we've got the sunshine for sure. 


Okay, perfect. So just so everybody knows, Kathy and I have known each other for longer than I'd like to probably admit.


It, it's been a long time and Kathy, you just, you had a major anniversary not too long ago. 


I did this month actually. Yeah, on the 3rd of February. Uh, celebrating the 40th anniversary of, of serving in the profession. And that, that's so amazing. Is a milestone, right? That is a big number. It's awesome. And you've done so many great things for this profession.


Thank you over the years. So it has certainly been, um, feeling like I'm, you know, in the right place. Uh, certainly has been feeling that way. And, started, you know, just as a CA like so many people right. Do and, and to land up. Where we are now is just a journey. . Right, right. You've done some great things.


So , you know, and, and I feel the same way about this profession. You know, I think this is one of those professions when you put your boots on the ground, it just seems to resonate back to you. And the more you put your boots on and, and the more you do and the more you get involved. And, and, uh, I think whenever you're doing great things and the profession, it just, I don't know, it just seems to kind of keep coming back and, I don't know, it's a good pay it forward kind of profession.


I feel anytime that you can vicariously work through somebody else who can do for others, like that little role that you play, you don't know how many people that's ultimately helping. Right. I knew I never wanted to become a chiropractor, but I figured that that would be a way that I could serve and still impact.


Yeah, absolutely. So over the years, um, I know we both have seen a lot of changes in the profession. Yes. What are some of the things that have stuck out to you? Just changes good changes, bad changes, crazy changes, weird things. Well, you know, I've lived through just all the reimbursement ups and downs for sure.




We, you know, the Mercedes eighties are when I started in 1983. Right. So we.  filling forms in the air checks came down. That was great. . Uh, nobody asked any questions. You just sort of build, everyone had 80 20 coverage. It was amazing, and it was easy to do those things for sure. It was not difficult, I should say.


And then probably four or five years after, That my family ended up moving to New York and it was the first real experience I had of managed care. So I worked at the largest chiropractic group practice in the state kind of practice administered for. The group. And it was at that time the old cn, which ultimately became acn, which 


And that was the first experience of really seeing the limitations that came. Sure. And then from there it's been the sky's the limit because now, and especially now, I think, , the thing that hurts my heart the most is seeing how that has driven the profession apart even more than the fractures that were already there.


Mm-hmm because, you know, there are so many providers doing cash-based practice, which is great. Um, they just.  in some cases you see the looking down on doctors that are going the other direction and trying to add more services and doing things like that. So that's been probably just, especially lately, the hardest thing to watch.


Yeah. Yeah. It's, there's been some interesting shifts over the years. You know, you talk about the eighties and the Mercedes eighties. In the eighties and early nineties, I was in investment banking. Wow. And it was the same thing. We'd throw a prospectus up in the air and you know, Fort Knox would drop down on us.


Right, right. That's right. And you know, then all of a sudden,  things change. So it's not just the chiropractic profession that changes. I think, I think sometimes we kind of get the sense that, oh my gosh, our profession's always changing. I wish I was in doing something else. And I, the grass is not greener.


It is not just not greener. It is, it is not. And I, um, , I think I may have shared with you before, I belong to the largest global organization of entrepreneurs, a peer-to-peer kind of entrepreneur group called Entrepreneurs Organization for the last six and a half years. And so I meet monthly in a forum of, um, eight of us that come to talk about the things we can't talk about anywhere else.


We're all founders, you know, et cetera. Right? But what I find so fascinating is that. Doesn't matter. We've got a person that owns a huge catering company, two software developers, a lawyer, and we all have the same issues. Sure. They're PE people issues or cash flow issues or whatever they may be. And you know, the more that we are, , you know, thinking that we're different than where we're alike.


We are. Yeah. And I, I think you've, you've made a very accurate statement there. Doesn't matter the industry Well, that, that's ex Absolutely right. You know, as a business owner, we have to realize we're entrepreneurs.  and, uh, you, the group you're in sounds amazing. It is. And.  and because we're entrepreneurs, yeah.


We share the same thing. And I, I tell people all the time to do what you're doing and find a mastermind group like that, that you can get involved in, especially when it's not in your profession. Mm-hmm. . Because when you see that other people are having the same issues and the same complaints about trying to hire people and you know, whatever it might be, we're all on the same.


It's a fact. And you know, it's, it's funny, the majority of what we do in our business is all business related. Mm-hmm. , when you consider everything to do with billing and documentation and compliance, it's business and other people have to deal with those same things. But I think sometimes our doctors forget that they are in this amazing, passionate.


you know, healthcare field. but they're also wearing the hat, a business owner. And when I see the challenges, it's nine times outta 10 because they didn't pay attention on the business side, not the clinical side. Right. Clinical, they're great. It's always on the business side. It's always on the business side.


It really is. You have, you have to juggle both sides. Mm-hmm.  and, uh, you know, I, I guess that's where you and I both kind of come in and help them a little bit. Yes. Help them find that balance. Um, you. , you're talking about the great things in the profession. One of the things that I see that I think is so amazing is how the profession has grown.


And I, and I call it widening. We are much more scientific based. There's more research behind what we do. Mm-hmm. , we're seeing doctors, uh, chiropractors in more areas today where they are integrated. Clinics, we're in hospitals, we're in the va, we're, you know, we're just, we're all over the place today. And I know when I first started in the profession.


That wasn't really happening. No. So it's all happening in this very compressed amount of time. Yes. And the way that the folks are coming outta school with different ambitions and different things. Right. That they want to do. For sure. Right. And there's so many new niches, niches, niches. Mm. Yes. However we say it, that word, you know, we've got all these different niches now and so chiropractic is this amazing opportunity to go out and kind of really make it whatever you wanna.


You don't have to just be the general chiropractor. I'm not saying there's anything bad about that. Mm-hmm. , you can be a cash practice, you can be a multidisciplinary practice. You can be cash and insurance. You can be geriatric care. It, it's such a cool profession when you really pick it apart like that, because nobody can do what a chiropractor can do.


Absolutely. You know, none of these other providers can do that. And sometimes I, it paints me a little bit that I, I worry that doctors forget that. Mm-hmm. , you know, I heard, I was watching this great new documentary that's out on the PGA tour that they're doing, and, um, . Justin Thomas, one of our favorite golfers' father is his coach.


And he said, you know, what you have to remember is you're very, very good. So you can't get mad at yourself when a bad thing happens. Right? And I, I remarked to my husband about that and said, I wish more doctors got that what you have and what you're doing and how you're healing, nobody else can do. Hang on to that and then just fix these little edge things and you're gonna be just,


Yep. And I think doctors need to find more positive energy to replenish their own, giving off the energy that we do every day with patients. And then to turn around and, and I, I know you hear this too, you go to a conference and all you hear is the complaining and Oh, negative woe is me and the negativity.


And we gotta get out of that negative groupthink as a profession. And again, it's not just us. I hear this in other professions too, but. You know, somebody asked me the other day, it was, uh, somebody getting ready to graduate. What's the one thing you can tell me that will really help me have a successful career?


Don't listen to the negativity. Yeah. Go down your own way. Yep. Go down the straight and narrow. Never put the blinders on. Always have full vision, have a purpose, and don't listen to the negativity. It'll take you.  that's a fact. And have a good group of, you know, board of directors around you. You don't have to know everything.


You just have to know the people that do. Absolutely don't, don't listen to your buddies. Whatever you do. Gosh, yeah. , please don't do that. The buddy consultant sometimes is the worst. Oh my gosh. So, Kathy, I want to ask you a question. I, I don't know that I've ever asked you this. What brought you into chiropractic?


I know you started as a ca, how did you get there? After that, I went to Arizona State University. Mm-hmm. , and after about two and a half years, my mother fell fairly ill to a point where I decided to move home and get a job and kind of just help her.  and I ended up getting a job at an optometry office that was near our house.


He had been my optometrist and ended up kind of expanding into a lot of different things and working there, doing bookkeeping and all these things. And my brother, um, uh, my second oldest brother owned an x-ray company in town and he, um,  knew of a doctor that he had just installed an x-ray machine in and said they have a person who's going to be having a baby and they're looking to replace.


Are you interested in seeing about making a change? Mm-hmm. . So I met with them and there are a lot of promises, you know, we wanna do bonuses and we all the stuff that you know would happen. This was a Sherman grad and he saw 300 a day. It was really that kind of a practice. Fun. And, uh, was he and his wife and this person.


and I decided to make the jump and they were only open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And you did the business on Tuesday and Thursday? Mm-hmm.  and I trained for a week and off she went to have a baby. . Oh, wow. Never to return. Oh, wow.  . And of course, you know, 300 a day, you're not gonna ask anybody any questions.


You're kind of, you know, elbows everywhere. So, what I learned insurance by calling an insurance company 10 times if I didn't get the right answer. And that sort of took me where I was. What really made the difference for me is the same day that I became ACA, I became a patient and. , the difference in my health was absolutely demonstrable.


Yeah. Uh, I had such severe asthma and it made just a tremendously big difference for me. After a couple of years, I didn't even take medication anymore and I became an advocate, and that's when I knew that I'd found my purpose in life. Oh, isn't that. Yeah. That's awesome. You know, I got into chiropractic kind of the same way really.


Um, I had a little gap in time, but, uh, I got hurt playing football in high school. And uh, long story short, the doctors told my parents that I would never play sports again, and my dad said, I don't believe that. And he took me to his chiropractor. Because my father, this is cool. My father was delivered by a chiropractor.


Oh, wow. That's cool. Yeah, that's cool. They lived in teeny tiny town and the only doctor was a chiropractor, so he took me to his chiropractor and literally within two or three weeks I was back to playing sports. Amazing and went on to play in college. So as, as I reflected, I can remember it being a young, young child.


Mm-hmm. , uh, like five and my father went to a chiropractor. Mm-hmm. , like these memories came back because I remembered the Hilo table and the doctor would, would let me, you know, write on it. And I'm quite sure he probably adjusted me, to be honest, probably. Yeah. But the thing I remember in that office is so funny.


Remember those things that you. Put a strap around you, like for weight loss and it would You know, I remember he had those in there for some reason. I don't even know why, but I thought that was very funny. But I evidently had an experience even as a young child. Yeah. Isn't that great? Isn't that great?


It really is. It really is. It's, it's, it's always fun to hear people's. Entree into the profession. Yes. Yeah. There's some, so many that are like you that have been injured. Mm-hmm.  and then found their purpose by being healed and being able to go back to whatever it was. So many times I hear that right.


Didn't Jack Canfield write a book about. Chiropractic, uh, chiropractic for the Soul or something like that. Yeah. So, you know his Chicken Soup for the Soul. Yeah. He, I think he partnered with maybe, uh, Freo Mancini or someone Uhhuh did Chicken Soup for the Chiropractic Soul and all those stories. Yeah. Love those stories.


I love those. He's great stories. So what do you, what do you think, just looking in your crystal ball, what do you think lies ahead in the. That's a big question. Well, I know what I hope lies ahead and I could tell you what probably does. You know, it's funny, I was interviewed for a magazine article for this same purpose of my anniversary, and I said, well, I'm probably gonna aggravate some people with what I had to say at the end, but we'll see.


Um, why not? You know, I, I feel very strongly that the time has come to allow chiropractors to opt out. . Mm-hmm.  and Medicare Part B. Mm-hmm. , let's be clear cuz it is different now and No, a lot of people don't still understand that. Sure. But I, I, I think that, you know, having worked at the American Chiropractic Association, I understand why when they are pushing for full scope in Medicare for everything to be covered according to whatever your state scope is, they think.


Excuse me, that it's, it's backhanded to say we want full scope and oh, by the way, let us opt out. Mm-hmm. , they think that's backhanded. I don't understand that. I'm just saying it's not fair out of equality. Right. When every other kind of physician can do that mm-hmm.  and 99 times out of a hundred, what they're forcing the doctors into doing is.


by unfortunately not having that option is they're doing it wrong and they're doing it. I cannot even tell you how many people we encounter that are like, oh, I just see Medicare for cash. They can't, and right. And there, there's plenty of things to do to fix it, but I think the I C A might have put forth a bill similarly.


Mm-hmm.  through Congress and theirs includes optout. . I don't understand why it can't be both, but I, I believe it is the bane of most doctors' existences now 10,000 people a day age into Medicare. I wouldn't want to opt out of Medicare if I were a chiropractor at all. Mm-hmm. , it's the simplest, most straightforward thing to do.


So what I hope is that that can happen. , they can do it properly. Mm-hmm.  patients will have their options and we will begin to continue the push into the other areas of healthcare, as you mentioned earlier. Mm-hmm.  and experience what, you know, how chiropractors can be a part of a healthcare team.


Right. And, uh, I, I happen to be in a, in a group in Facebook that's, you know, these doctors that are very evidence-based and mm-hmm.  and, you know, they really have a strong. Showing and a strong push to be able to show what chiropractic can do. And I hope that goes mm-hmm.  and I hope that doctors who want to be able to practice in their own way still can do that.


There's gotta be room for everybody under the umbrella. Yeah. Yeah. I agree with you and, and I. I think if we could get the opt-out status, my fear is that we're gonna leave behind the geriatric community. Exactly. And, and they need us. They need us so bad and well, I get that. And we really do need that opt-out status, whether, whether you use it or not.


we need to have practices be able to separate away if they want to. Yeah. You know, maybe, maybe you wanna be a pediatric practice. Yes. And that's what all you want to do. Great. But I do hope the profession continues to grow and expand. My hope is that we continue to develop good communication internally and turn the arrows outward and not inward.


Well, I, I, that's a, that's a hope for me too, and I know.  it appears anyway. Mm-hmm.  that the, um, chiropractic summit seems to be that which is trying to lead the way. Yeah. Together with all of the different people that are participating in that. Um, disappointed, frankly, in some of what I see from the other groups out there, but.


They need to widen the net. Mm-hmm.  and help people to understand what's going on. It's a lot to keep track of and you know, if I could wave a magic wand and help doctors understand there is no such thing as competition. Right. There's plenty to go around. Right. I think sometimes we wind up being our own competition.


Mm. Because we put those blinders on, we don't follow the rules, and then we wonder why we get in trouble. Yeah. And you said something just a second ago. Medicare is so simple. It really is. It is so simple. It's such a simple black and white. Program to follow, just follow the rules. Mm-hmm. You know, that's, that's one of the things that I hope is that we learn how to follow the rules better.


Yes. And you know, I think the last number I saw was like 62% of Medicare beneficiaries are now enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Part C plan. Mm-hmm. , which, . It's also completely different because that, at least for now, doc chiropractors don't have to enroll in those. Mm-hmm. . So, so you have some, to me it's a segue, it's a bridge.


Mm-hmm.  that on those patients, this is how you can behave. But you've gotta be in this plan to be able to do that on the other side. So Right. All we can do is keep singing it from the highest mountain tops. Absolutely. Absolutely. . And you live at the highest mountain tops, so I do Almost, yes. Almost  almost.


And I'm down here at sea. Yes, I, I love that. So Kathy, I can't thank you enough for joining me today. This is so much fun, fun for you and I to catch up just a little bit. It is, and uh, you know, our, our two businesses are very complimentary to each other. In fact, when I was in practice, I had my business coach and I had Kathy on the other side, always


So, um, and you help a lot of our clients out, so we appreciate that. And there's the puppy. Well this, she just came out of her little surgery, so she's loves probably looking for her soft bed. Yeah. Bless her heart. Well, we are delighted to help doctors in any way we can, whether it's all a card or otherwise.


And you know, I always just like to say, go to the resource. Don't try to, don't try to figure it out. I'm not gonna try to figure out how to adjust. I'm gonna go to someone that learned it and is good at it. You should do the same thing. . Absolutely. Kathy. Kathy Mills from KMC University. Um, it's kmcuniversity.com.


Yes, it is. Yeah. So Kathy Mills Chang, thank you so much for being here. Happy anniversary and thank you. It's so great to, so much to see you today. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. 


Absolutely, and thanks everybody for listening to the KC CHIROpulse podcast, brought to you by Kats Consultants. We'll see you next time.