This episode is brought to you by PAR. The Feifer Assessment of Writing examines why students may struggle with writing. The FAW and the FAW screening form are available on PARiConnect- PAR’s online assessment platform. Learn more at parinc.com\faw.
Hey, y’all welcome back. Glad to have you here. My guest today is Dr. Michael Docktor. That’s right. Dr. Docktor, you heard that right.
Mike is the co-founder and CEO of Dock Health, a company founded at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he is also a practicing [00:01:00] Pediatric Gastroenterologist and former Clinical Director of Innovation.
Dock Health is a software platform that is built from the ground up for healthcare professionals. It is a task management software program specifically designed for healthcare professions.
If that catches your attention, you definitely want to stay tuned for this entire episode. I talked with Mike about a number of things. We talk about the reasons that healthcare professionals are kind of bad at creating user-friendly systems for task management. We talk about the cognitive burden that results from having a bad task management system. And of course, we talk about the software itself and some of the features that Dock Health offers to healthcare professionals.
Now, I’ve been messing with the [00:02:00] software for the past two months, and I’m really impressed, frankly, so much so that I have chosen to partner with Dock Health to design some testing specific workflows that capture a lot of the common processes that we go through as testing psychologists. So if you would like to access these workflows and give Dock Health a try, you can do that at dock.health/the-testing-psychologist. That link is in the show notes, but I want to make sure if anybody is interested, you can check out Dock Health, you can get a free trial, you can run through a demo with them and you can get access [00:03:00] to those custom workflows that I designed specifically for testing folks.
I hope you enjoy this episode. It is really meant to shine a light on a resource that I think could be helpful for a lot of us in our practices. I hope that you enjoy it. Without further delay, here is my interview with Dr. Michael Docktor.
Hey, Mike, welcome to the podcast.
Dr. Mike: Thank you for having me. Good to see you.
Dr. Sharp: Yes, you as well. I’m really excited to talk with you. I think that since our first connection a few weeks ago, it feels like we’re [00:04:00] in similar ballparks and have similar headspaces here being practitioners and business owners and entrepreneurs. I know you have a lot to say here, so I’m grateful for your time.
Dr. Mike: Thank you.
Dr. Sharp: I always start with this question. We’ll just jump right to it, of why this? Why are you doing this now? Why is it important?
Dr. Mike: I feel like this is a culmination of the last 20 years of experience for me as a clinician, as an innovator, as someone that wants to ultimately make life easier for fellow providers, other clinicians. The problem that we’re tackling at Dock Health it’s really managing all the to-dos of healthcare and all the administrative burden. And there was just no good way to do that for me. And my role in life feels like it needs to be, how do we help providers take care of themselves and ultimately take better care of their patients through our system? That’s the mission. And so I had [00:05:00] to be on it.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Well, just from that little piece, it sounds like you’re solving your own problem, which is what they always say to do when you start a business, right?
Dr. Mike: Yeah, eat your own dog food or solve your own problem. This is very much solving my own problem and selfishly I was challenged and we’ll get into it I’m sure, but I was just challenged with managing all to-dos of clinical care and had the benefit of seeing what industries outside of healthcare use and do, and had the wherewithal and fortunately, the right resources to help build something that certainly helped me and looking forward to helping my other providers along the way.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I’m really curious about the origin story and the genesis of all this. I typically actually don’t go into a lot of background with guests, but I think you have a unique background that I’d love to ask about if we [00:06:00] could dive into some of that.
Dr. Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I’m a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Boston Children’s Hospital. I took that traditional route. My last name is Docktor, so I really didn’t have much of a choice in life, but I took a traditional route to medicine with some meandering along the way. I took a year off after college, before medical school, and worked for JP Morgan. And so I had some financial experience and just lived an enjoyable existence near your city for a year before I dove into medicine knowing full well that I wanted to do that. And did pediatric residency in Los Angeles, did my GI fellowship at Boston children’s.
And honestly, while I was spending a lot of time in the lab during the latter part of my fellowship, there’s just a lot of downtime. And it was right around the time that the iPhone and the App Store came online and I was just enamored with the user experience and the technology that was in my hand and fortunately, found some smart [00:07:00] people that were willing to try some experiments. And that first experiment was building an app. I had a young child at the time. I thought we should build a potty training app because I’m a gastroenterologist and I have a young kid. And so I met these MIT engineers that were curious about how to code and X code for the iPhone and app store. And that was the first experience I had in the app store and user experience and design. And I got totally bitten by the bug. And then it led me to just really start to look at things differently.
I started asking our IT and informatics people at Boston Children’s Hospital, how come we’re not using these iPhones and these great tools that it’s in everyone’s pockets? How come people are insecurely texting with just SMS because our paging system is so antiquated and painful? And that led to my first project as the director of clinical mobile solutions within the informatics program, [00:08:00] bringing secure messaging into Boston Children’s Network to other projects like mobile EHRs and using the Nuance’s Dragon products to dictate our notes.
And so that just got me into the role of informatics and clinician-facing tools. In part, the rest is history but that along with my clinical role and just feeling the pain points of that in my role in an innovation program at Boston Children’s Hospital that I was the clinical director of, and so I just had tons of exposure to the world outside of medicine. And I got to see how software engineers manage projects and how things as simple as my wife and I manage our shopping lists.
I told this story the other day, but if she needed me to pick up bananas when I was at Whole Foods, she put it on the list that would be Wunderlist. [00:09:00] And when I was shopping and I picked up the bananas, I clicked the box and she knew that I got the bananas and there was this like, magical moment where like, gosh, how does this not exist in healthcare? How do we get this clarity of purpose for all the tasks that we have to manage? And that was the inception of it.
We need a task management tool for healthcare. We need something that allows us the clinicians to work better with our administrative teams to reduce the administrative work, to have clarity of purpose, to have structure, accountability, all those things. And there’s a lot more in there, but ultimately we had the resources at Boston Children’s Hospital to actually build out what we call an MVP in the world of software development. It’s a minimal viable product. What is the least possible work you can do to create something that will prove the value of what you’re trying to do.
At first, I was just using Wunderlist. Initially, it was literally asking my nurse and my admin. Hey, would you do this? Share your task list with [00:10:00] me. And let’s not use our real patient names because it’s not HIPAA compliant. It was powerful. It had its own challenges, which is it wasn’t HIPAA compliant. But when we were able to prove the concept, and then we sought out to build a HIPAA-compliant task management tool. The rest is history. I’m sure we’ll have more time to get into it, but I was really trying to solve my own problem. And it’s always clear how you get there, but it was a meandering path initially.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. It makes me want to ask. There are a few things that jumped out from everything you just said. One, the piece about working in finance before you went to medical school. Was that deliberate? Did you know that was going to be a path? Was that a plan? And if so, why?
Dr. Mike: No, the plan was… Well, fortune favors the prepared mind is my mantra, but things happen for a reason. I was [00:11:00] thinking for me, I didn’t do well on my MCATs the first time I took them. So, I had a year to study and I had a year to figure out what I was going to do. So I applied to med school the first time, I didn’t get in. And I said, okay. I can take my MCATs again. And I’m going to spend the year and enjoy myself and do something that I’ll probably never get a chance to do if I’m really going into a career in medicine, which was the plan all along.
And so I had just graduated college. It was from the New Jersey, New York area. And so I said, I’m going to move to the city like everyone else. And I found a job working downtown right by the World Trade Center. And it was with this offshoot of JP Morgan. And I had really no real interest in the job, but it was a great opportunity. I wanted to learn some business skills because everyone else told me that doctors had no idea about how to run a business. I thought it’d be good to be exposed to that. It was of interest to [00:12:00] me to be financially savvy. And it was just a great time because I had a 9 – 5 job and I could study and prepare for the MCATs, which ultimately I took again, did well enough to get into med school and the rest is history.
Dr. Sharp: Right. Do you feel like you took anything from that year, specifically that you can remember even now that knowledge from the business world translated easily or that has been particularly helpful in your clinical work or just the work that you’re doing now?
Dr. Mike: Yeah, I got really good at Excel spreadsheets. To be honest with you, it was more of a life experience. Just seeing what the business world was like. Right out of college, I was making good money and was more money than I was going to make for the decade to follow, which is just bananas.
So to me, it was just a great window into how the rest of the world [00:13:00] functions. And even at that time, this was back in 2000 which got scary how long ago that actually was, but it just makes me like there was decent technology at that time. And certainly, as you stepped into healthcare, you realize how antiquated and how a time warp it was to do anything in medicine.
I mean, at that time, when I went into medical school, which was just two years later, in the clinical aspect of things, we’re still writing paper charts and all. And so that was still pre-electronic health record days from early 2002 to 2003, when I was doing my initial clinical work. So exposure, I think in healthcare, is just one of my big ideas but certainly something I feel strongly about. In healthcare, we feel as though we’re special, we need to recreate and reinvent technology.
My mantra has always been, what’s learned from other industries that have [00:14:00] spent billions of dollars and have perfected these things over time? Why are we so special that we need to reinvent the wheel? Let’s take those learnings from other industries and apply them to healthcare. And that’s basically what we did at Dock Health.
Dr. Sharp: I love that. There’s a lot to dig into with that as well. I’m trying to hold off because I have these other questions. You sound like you’ve diversified your work quite a bit, and that’s been present ever since the beginning. Were you just a tech-minded individual? Did you have any background in programming? How does one stumble from gastroenterologists to IT and leading these divisions on innovation and whatnot?
Dr. Mike: I was always a technology-oriented person. I always loved technology. And my wife always jokes, like if I could have a tool to do some mundane task, I would do it like automatic, spun [00:15:00] little scrubber tools and things like that. So I’ve always been tech-oriented and I came by it honestly in full disclosure, I don’t know how to code. I’ve tried to take courses and that invariably failed. And so I’ve learned that it’s important to surround yourself with smart people and so that’s my claim to fame in developing any software is having good ideas and helping other people, designers and engineers build.
But for me, it was really just a real interest and it sparks following these things and then becoming an expert just in, I was in the early days of digital health. I remember being in the lab, studying this oral microbiome of inflammatory bowel disease, which was fascinating work and innovative and insomnia, but I have an opportunity to do something in a more traditional sense than academic medicine, which is getting an NIH-funded grant [00:16:00] and be a microbiome expert while I practiced clinical medicine or like go down this new and really exciting and interesting road of like digital medicine, which at the time, or digital health or health IT, whatever you call it. But that was a total novelty. So I had the option of being a new guy, blazing a trail in something that I was passionate about and excited about, and so opportunity versus being the lowest guy on the totem pole in an NIH-funded grant cycle. And for me, the choice is clear. I think I made the right one.
Dr. Sharp: It seems like it. It seems to be working.
So, let’s transition a little bit to talk more specifically about the tool that you all have created, Dock Health. And I’m going to back up and ask a philosophical question. Why do you think healthcare is so bad at this type of thing, at task management, coordination of responsibility, and so forth? Why are we struggling with this?
Dr. Mike: [00:17:00] It is amazing and really unfortunate because we are so bad at it. And I think for those that are in health care, we often try and avoid it as much as possible. Meaning, if you work in a hospital, you know it’s amazing things happen as well as they do, and gosh, we do anything possible to avoid it. The reality is we go into this with the best intentions, right? I went to medical school to look patients in the eyes and to help them in their journey. I didn’t go into it to document notes or dictate or type or do bills or never mind all the administrative stuff that we talk about. And that administrative work in my 20-year career in medicine has just probably 10 X in that time. It just continues to get worse and worse.
If you look at the system that we have, we have the electronic health record [00:18:00] which was built to be a clinical system for physicians and nurses, and clinicians to document, to bill, to review labs, to place orders or prescriptions. So that’s the core offering of electronic health records. And then we have these other systems to somehow manage the rest of healthcare. We call it the Dock health, the other half of healthcare, and that’s all the administrator to do that comes as part of clinical care.
For every prescription I write or order a place or thing I tell a patient to do, they’re actually many administrative tasks that have to be done by someone. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s someone at the front desk. Sometimes it’s an insurance person or a scheduler or what have you. There’s a team of people and arguably it’s 10 X with the number of providers or clinicians are who have to manage all those tasks and make sure that those things get done in order for that clinical thing that I wanted done to get actually [00:19:00] done.
And so, the tools that we have are things like email and post-it notes. And in many cases, electronic health records have an email function or an inbox function, which is like emails from 1996. But those are the tools of the trade and unfortunately, we don’t have anything collaborative or secure or really oriented around what these things ultimately are, which are tasks. And everything in healthcare is a task in our mind, fill out this form, do this study, call on this prescription and do this prior authorization. It’s all to-dos. And it’s a question of who’s doing it. And unfortunately, as providers, clinicians, we place the emphasis on the patient.
Hey, call my office in a week and check-in and see if that lab man came in or can you call my office and schedule your next appointment, or, Hey, I’m referring you to this physical therapist, call their office and make sure that they’ve got the form that they were supposed to get. Those are all to-dos. And unfortunately, we put pressure on the patient because we’re terrible at it as clinicians and providers. We’re terrible at managing all of that stuff. And so we say here is a patient who may or may not have the wherewithal or the resources to do those things, make sure you do this thing because we’re not reliable.
And so to me, that was just tragic. And when you look at other industries that have systems in place, whether it’s collaboration tools for communication or it’s collaboration tools for task management or project management, those are all things that have been invented. We didn’t do anything noble at Dock Health, we just applied it in healthcare, built it to be HIPAA compliant, built it to have the context of healthcare and obviously the workflows and integrations that are necessary for health care. But ultimately, healthcare needed to do something to manage the other half of healthcare, which is essential to [00:21:00] make the other clinical piece work.
Dr. Sharp: Right. I think people are probably getting a decent sense of the software, but I’d love to hear just straight from you. How would you describe this? What does Dock Health do and how does it fit into our practices?
Dr. Mike: Well, I appreciate the question because it is a novelty still in healthcare, this task management concept. So it’s helpful to do our best to explain it. At the end of the day, as I mentioned, everything in healthcare is a task. So for us, we’ve created a system that allows you to create a task, fill out this form, submit this prior authorization, call this patient back, schedule this, give that task patient context- that’s either done through an electronic health record integration where we allow smaller and medium-sized practices to just upload their patients into Dock Health.
So it’s creating this task, assigning this patient or receiving [00:22:00] associate this patient and then assign that task to someone on the team. It could be something that I have to do to remember. And for me, a lot of how I use Dock is, just remember to call this patient back and remember to fill out this form, remember to do this letter of recommendation for a resident that I was working with.
All the to-do is that that cognitive burden which Jeremy asks you to talk about some of this stuff, the cognitive burden the stress anxiety and I think subsequent burnout for providers is a lot of just managing all those to-dos and trying to figure out how to do it. So we give people the ability to just drop it into a secure place instead of carrying around that anxiety and all the to-dos that I have. Let’s figure out what the to-dos that I or my team have to do. If there’s something that I can assign out to someone I do that. If there’s a workflow or a more structured process or protocol that we have to follow, let’s create that structure so that we can follow these steps and know [00:23:00] where that thing is in flight. Know who’s responsible for what and close the loop. This is a concept that is so important to our own mental health. It is like not knowing that something that needs to be done for my patient is done or not is like a powerful thing.
And for me, it was a major source of my own burnout, frankly. It was like, I wanted to do the best for my patients. Feeling like I couldn’t because of the system. And then just being stressed and anxious about other things that I asked my colleagues to do for my patients, did they do that? And so we just create that structure. We create the ability to create a task, add a patient, assign it to someone. And then when that box is checked and you get notified, you know when that thing is done and there’s a longitudinal record at the patient level. So we know what we’ve done for patients over time, there are audit trails. So you can see how long this process took and hopefully, understand the bottlenecks and the efficiencies or inefficiencies of your practice and where we need more [00:24:00] resources, but it’s something super simple. It’s basically a shared to-do list, but we make it much more powerful with the healthcare context.
Dr. Sharp: I love that explanation. The way that I’ve conceptualized it, I don’t mean to compare to existing tools necessarily, but is something like Asana, for example, or you mentioned Wunderlist in your life, but it’s something like that except kind of on steroids and specifically for healthcare and its HIPAA compliant, which is crucial.
Dr. Mike: Yeah, for those that know what Asana is, and it’s shocking to me how few people don’t know. Asana is a publicly traded company. It’s an awesome tool. They’re not built for health care and that’s part of what makes us unique and awesome. I actually did a survey. I did a Twitter survey not that long ago and actually asked health care providers on Twitter if they’ve even heard of Asana [00:25:00] and I forget the numbers, but it was something like around 75% had never even heard of it, let alone used it.
So again, this speaks to when folks are in the clinic. You and I are clinicians who have a business mind and have practices to run. And so we’re looking for some of these tools but many of my colleagues and certainly many clinicians out there, I don’t think have any idea as to these tools that are out there. And this is why people are looking to reinvent the wheel, especially in healthcare, which I think is worth borrowing from a great company like Asana. All the things that they’ve educated the world on and then certainly transform industries let’s supply that in healthcare.
Dr. Sharp: Right. That’s a good point. I should know this. I’m shocked when you say those numbers, but I should know that, right? Like we’ve had discussions on the podcast before about systems [00:26:00] and have had a few guests over the last two months just about systems and the importance of systems. And I get a lot of feedback from the audience that makes me think, this is not on people’s minds. These ideas are revolutionary which is awesome.
Dr. Mike: I would put forth that in medical school, we should have courses running a business, on cost management, for example. I would love, and in fact, we’re offering it to any trainee out there in the world, Dock Health is free to any trainee in the world. I want people to understand as they’re learning their behaviors, as they’re learning their skills that they will take out into the world to help patients be thoughtful and structured about how you run your operations, how you manage all your to-dos, how you manage your cognitive burden, how you work well and collaborate with your team.
These are all skills that we don’t learn in medical [00:27:00] school. And unfortunately, we’re just run right into the fire and we learn to know a lot about the clinical stuff, but there’s a whole lot around how you run a business, how you run your own self, and how you manage your time, unfortunately, it’s not taught in medicine.
Dr. Sharp: Let’s take a quick break to hear from our featured partner.
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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.
Well, you mentioned the cognitive burden and in our world that falls under working memory as a cognitive construct, all those simple things we have to keep track of. And I often think of both The Checklist Manifesto, I’m guessing you’ve seen or read that it’s right?
Dr. Mike: It’s right over there. I’ve just got it. I have to read it.
Dr. Sharp: Right, but that whole idea that once you operationalize and take those items out of your mind and put them on paper or on a computer screen, that frees up the cognitive load and increases the quality of work that you can do. So you’re not worrying 100%.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. I used to tell the story if you’re going to indulge me for a minute. I [00:29:00] used to leave work on a Friday afternoon and literally feel the stress and anxiety that I had no doubt was going to forget something over the course of the weekend. And some poor patient of mine was going to end up in the emergency room or the parent was going to call and they’re frustrated that I forgot to call on a prescription or something like that. And that anxiety was palpable. And I think again, led to my own burnout in some ways.
When we were creating Dock and when I started using it in my clinical practice, that feeling went away. That weight on my shoulders on a Friday afternoon. Because I could leave and I may not have done everything, but I knew what had to be done. I knew who was responsible for it. And that feeling of just dumping your cognitive load into a system where it’s secure and where you know that you or your colleagues are going to manage it, it was a powerful paradigm shift for me to really just feel that comfort of [00:30:00] knowing not necessarily that I’ve done all the work, but then I know what needs to be done. I know who’s responsible for it. And I have that loop closure thing, which I mentioned was powerful.
Dr. Sharp: Right. Which is also a real cognitive phenomenon. We want to close loops that eat up a lot of resources in our brains.
Let me ask a meta-question before we dig into more details around the software. How do you recommend it to people or how did you personally even just get in the habit of using a system like this? Because that’s a leap for people too who may not be used to it or they’re doing post-it. How do you even start?
Dr. Mike: I think it’s hitting bottom. The truth of the matter is I have colleagues, bless their hearts, who have systems already in place. I have one colleague that carries around a black book like this, and she takes all the [00:31:00] little stickers from her clinic charts and she puts a sticker in the book, and then she writes a little box next to it, and she writes the to-do’s that she has for that patient. I don’t think that’s going to scale very well. And certainly, God forbid she ever lost her black book, but that’s a process and assistant that she did.
And for me, I was not like that. I was someone that remembered everything. I just had cognitive lists running in my head and I’d be in the shower and I’d be like, I forgot to do that thing for that person. Then you have these momentary lapses and then suddenly you recall something that you’re supposed to do like two weeks ago.
So to me, it was really intentional about needing a system because this is currently not working. And frankly, Dock Health again was really a solution to the problem I was trying to solve. I needed a system. I wasn’t a paper guy. I’m very much a digital, mobile guy. I needed an app [00:32:00] and I needed an app that was secure and I felt safe that I was protecting my patients’ privacy and data, and there is nothing out there.
To answer your question, I think it’s just important for people to recognize their own weaknesses but also just the reality of the system which is that, unless they have a panel of three patients, no one can manage all the to-do’s that they have. And no one can collaborate and work with their team with the current tools that we have, email, post-it notes, et cetera. No one is handing you back that post-it note with a checkbox and saying, here you go. I did it. I think for me, it was really, again solving my own problem. And I think if I had to hit bottom. I was getting emails from my colleagues and parents of my patients like, Hey doc, third request in big caps. I was like, [00:33:00] it feels terrible. I like to think I’m a really good doctor. And I started feeling like I wasn’t a good doctor because I wasn’t able to manage all of the to-do’s that came as part of the doctor.
Dr. Sharp: I think that statement right there is one of the most poignant of this whole interview, that people will probably really resonate with that. I think we’ve all had that experience. And I know that I have woken up early in the morning with that panic of, I didn’t do this or somebody is counting on me or what did I forget? I think it’s ubiquitous.
It’s interesting, just to put some numbers to this, in our collaboration I’ve been building out some workflows for a testing practice, and our testing workflow from start to finish for an evaluation I think it’s like between 20 and 30 steps. That’s a lot of things to do when you actually write it all out. And I was like, “Oh my gosh.” And if you’re seeing 4, [00:34:00] 5, 6, 8, 10 people a month, that’s a lot.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. Now add in the fact that in an ideal world, you’re working with other people. I add a social worker, into my world a dietician, and a surgeon. There are so many players all trying to get on the same page with this one workflow. In my world, it was prescribing an infusion to a Crohn’s or colitis patient. And just thinking about all the players in that and how dis coordinated and just all over the place we were and getting buried in replying to all emails and things, it’s just bananas and that’s healthcare. I mean, your neuropsychology work and in my prescribing biologics, are just two silly examples of the broader challenges of coordinating staff in healthcare. And email is not the way we do it.
Dr. Sharp: Oh gosh, no. And anybody who’s spent time, [00:35:00] I worked in a hospital for a few years here until just recently doing evaluations over there and working in Epic is a nightmare. I don’t know those systems aren’t there.
Dr. Mike: I can just call them out for a moment, it’s a great electronic health record and they certainly have the lion’s share of the market and they use larger academic centers, but they’re not managing tasks. They’re not helping. They have an inbox and I think for the naive and the people that don’t understand task management, they say, oh, there is nothing to do this. And very declaratively, I will tell you, well, how does Epic manage like remembering to call back a patient or filling out a form or doing all the 20 steps of a neuropsychology evaluation, like there are the clinical pieces and it’s great for that, the same with Asana and all the other EHRs. But there’s the administrative component, the other [00:36:00] half of healthcare, which I don’t think they have any idea about. And certainly, they’re not being mindful of all the people on your team and staff that are trying to coordinate and collaborate in this effort. And there is no system until Dock, really?
Dr. Sharp: I want to highlight two features that have jumped out to me that you’ve spoken a little bit about. 1) You just mentioned this collaboration with other disciplines. Can you explain how that works in the Dock system?
Dr. Mike: Yeah, the way that we’re structured is you create a list. A list can be any number of people on your team that’s brought into the list. On the lists are a number of tasks and those tasks on a patient context. So if you are running a small practice and you have a list of the people in that practice, you just can create tasks for patients in that list.
But what we also do is find that many practices are working with a [00:37:00] virtual assistant or they’re working with a billing company or they’re working with a compounding pharmacy or a radiology practice. Those are collaborators for patient care that we’re faxing things back and forth and picking up the phone and literally snail-mailing paper between those organizations, but they can be invited as a guest into Dock and they can have a secure view of the tasks for those patients in that list and share documents, share comments. So real-time communication, really those tasks now become the things that move between those organizations seamlessly.
And we let guests, at least for the moment, guests are free and unlimited. So if you use Dock in your practice, but you coordinate with this therapy practice over here or this virtual assistant over here, you can create those secure collaborations really at scale and eventually, not yet, but eventually, we’re going to bring the patient into that story [00:38:00] so that we can create tasks for patients because ultimately, while they shouldn’t get as many as they get today, they should be aware of the tasks that they’re actually being assigned and who’s doing what for them. And ideally be a contributor into the process where clinicians and the team have insight into what the patient is doing, what they’ve done, and arguably, there are some things that we as the clinical team need to give them to do.
Dr. Sharp: I love that idea. That is one of the things that jumped out to me. It was just the ability to have external folks join these lists because I know for us, just to bring it to life a little bit, we have contracts with two entities in our region, let’s say so a local DHS department or something, they’ll refer someone for an evaluation and then they will send us emails asking where we’re at in the evaluation process and it’s, I can’t even think of [00:39:00] the way it is, it’s annoying and time-consuming to have to respond and say, well, we’ve called this parent, but haven’t gotten a callback and we’re about to schedule testing, but it’s not, so…
Dr. Mike: That’s a perfect example. That’s like in the Dock world, you would create a list. You’ve been invited that DHS group or an individual from that organization into a list and you’d have a workflow built out for your evaluation process and they would then be able to see with perfect clarity that Dr. Sharp is on step 3 of 9. They could even place a comment and you can share documents seamlessly between those two organizations in a secure HIPAA compliant version. It takes all the friction and pain.
For me, I guess I’m easily frustrated. Maybe that’s my problem. Like, I just can’t believe that we do things like that. And I can’t believe that I spent all this time doing those really mundane and meaningless [00:40:00] tasks that ultimately of course, but for the patient and that’s why we do it, but it’s just unnecessary friction that we could be taking better, more reliable care of our patients if we had a thoughtfully structured process in order to do it.
Dr. Sharp: Right. It makes me think. I interviewed Natasha from Systems Rock two months ago, I think. And she said something along those lines about how we have these “systems”, but they don’t work well. There’s a lot of friction, but it’s like sunk costs. We have trouble getting out of it and it feels overwhelming. But the other options are just so much easier if we just take a little time.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. It takes inertia. That’s a whole nother topic. We’ve talked about change management. It’s difficult to get people to take on new things but the incumbent systems and processes are so [00:41:00] painful and so unreliable and often so insecure that it’s got to happen. And so for us, it’s just hopefully helping people understand the value and helping them overcome the inertia. And then the value is immediate and obvious.
Dr. Sharp: Right. You mentioned a little bit ago the concept of EHR integration as well. Can you speak to that?
Dr. Mike: Yeah. Unfortunately in healthcare, that is where we spend time. There’s good data to speak to how much time we actually spend there but it’s far more than any of us would care to. And so the reality is that you need to be integrated with the electronic health record in many cases in order for clinicians, particularly those in academic medical centers and places where there’s such a dependency on the EHR, you need to be integrated into those systems so that you can pull the patient [00:42:00] context and you can be embedded in the system so that they’re not going to find other things. And so when I was the Clinical Director of the Innovation at Boston Children’s Hospital, it was always like, the doctors don’t have time for another thing, so you have to embed. And so for us, it certainly is an area of a lot of work and interest in […]
And really what all that means is when you’re in a patient’s chart and you’re in the workflow of caring for them or looking information up or documenting or billing, you’ve got access to the task list or the to-do list in Dock Health with patient context. And still, you’re not going to have to log in to another place and shift your focus and attention. You’re doing an embedded. And our hope over time, and certainly, lots of work is going into this, is how do we start reducing the work for the clinicians and those we call providers, providers are really anyone helping to provide care. And so I don’t think providers are [00:43:00] just doctors or nurses or therapists. Providers are the people at the front desk and the people who help you schedule your appointment. Providers all need to be on the same system.
And so how do we help them all work together? And to me, it is the patient context that comes from the EHR and it’s giving them a secure place to do all that work together and automating more and more of that over time. When I place an order for Remicade, which is an infusion I was talking about, how do we then kick off all the administrative tasks that are so important for that thing to actually happen? And it’s currently being done by just crossing our fingers and hoping it works because it has in the past usually.
So how do we automate some of these tasks based on orders or events and the electronic health record? That’s the next level for us. But at the same time, we don’t require electronic health records integration. And that’s part of what I think makes us special, particularly for [00:44:00] smaller practices that may or may not want to go through that effort. We just allow a practice to upload the therapy patients in an Excel file. And that way they have patient context when they’re creating tasks. But they’re not having to go through a potentially expensive process or lengthy process to do an integration with the EHR.
Dr. Sharp: I see. I would love to see mental health EHR be more open to integration, to be honest. I think historically, we operate in a fairly closed software system and has been cumbersome. In the beginning, I’ll understand, but yeah, I’m sure you will…
Dr. Mike: Yeah. Well, I think increasingly we’re going to see pressure from the government to mandate that EHR have APIs and have given a patient access to their data and give third parties access to their data so that they can integrate into it. So this is what we’re doing with Cerner and Epic. [00:45:00] we are talking to some mental health EHR and there are some good ones out there. And our hope is to integrate with them. We have APIs available that allow that to be quite easy from a technology perspective. But yeah, it makes for a more seamless experience for everyone. And hopefully, we add value to not only the EHRs but the providers using it.
Dr. Sharp: Sure. Well, I wonder, just as we may be starting to close, what are some other features? We’ve talked about a lot of things, but other things that you see that set Dock Health apart that might be unique that might be helpful for us that we should know about?
Dr. Mike: Yeah. First and foremost, it’s really important to us to make sure that we help providers and practices to overcome that initial inertia of not knowing how to use task management tools. And so [00:46:00] certainly what makes us different from Asana, we have a white glove concierge-like experience. So typically you will offer people at first a demo, understand their practice, figure out what are their error-prone workflows, are their challenges, and help them design a system in Dock that allows their team to work more efficiently and productively. And so that’s white-glove experience is really something that I think is essential because otherwise people would be scared off from taking on something new.
The other thing is that we’re ridiculously affordable. We’re $20 per user per month, which in a healthcare context is orders of magnitude cheaper than even the non-healthcare task management tools that are out there. And we don’t want price to be a barrier for people to use something that I think is ultimately going to improve patient care and improve their own lives.
And little things like we integrate with email, so you can forward an email to Dock and it [00:47:00] automatically becomes a task. People do that manually. For me, I’ll get a hundred emails a day but five of those are clinical tasks I have to remember to do. And I’ll just forward those to the Dock and they become a task and I can then manage and follow and put due dates on and all that. But we also do that at scale and we automate things so that if you get an email from say, […], it’s the most common thing, but someone fills out a form for a new patient visit request on your website.
That generates an email. And then someone has to go into your email and transcribe that email onto a post-it note and then call that patient back and track that whole process. We just automate that so that when that email comes in, it goes to the new patient visit requests list in Dock Health. It’ll automatically assign that task to someone in your practice. And that way that process becomes super automated and super reliable where it [00:48:00] used to be super manual and super unreliable.
So those are just some basic features, but every week we put out new stuff and we’re working hard to integrate with more and more systems that matter to people.
Dr. Sharp: That’s great. That last little bit about automating the clients but acquisition, that’s pretty magic and exciting.
Dr. Mike: Yeah. Sorry to interrupt you. The other piece is just the data because we’re turning manual things that are done in a not codified sort of antiquated or analog fashion, we’re turning it into digital. So you now know how long certain tasks take, you know how long a process will take, who’s responsible for what? And we’ve got all the data that we’re happy to share with the providers to know where the inefficiencies are, where the bottlenecks are, where we [00:49:00] need more resources on this piece of our practice because it should take three days since I’m taking seven days. Now we can show all that.
Dr. Sharp: I love the data you’ve got. That catches my interest right off the bat.
So, where are y’all headed in the future? It’s already a full-featured piece of software, but what’s on the horizon? What are you working on?
Dr. Mike: I think the focus in the short term is really integration and automation. It’s really increasingly making the product more valuable to the users whether it’s integrating with the HRS or just integrating with folks who talk about different forms that they’re using that they want to kick off workflows. So for us, it’s what are the triggering events that can kick off a workflow that brings a team together on working on a process and be more structured and thoughtful about it.
I agree and thank you. It’s [00:50:00] already a solid foundation but I think for us, it’s just making it easier to bring more and more of the ecosystem into Dock and allow us to be the hub for all this stuff a practice needs to manage a lot of the stuff that again is the other half of health care that no one’s really been thinking about today.
Dr. Sharp: Right. That’s exciting. I’ve enjoyed this conversation. And just personally, I love talking about this stuff and dreaming about technology and how that might help us. So this was an easy one for me.
Dr. Mike: Right there with you.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s great. This is the direction we’re headed. I always say, get on board now and figure it out as early as you can because this is where we’re going.
Dr. Mike: Yes, 100%.
Dr. Sharp: Well, Mike, thanks so much for talking through all these ideas and your story and the software that you’ve got going on. It’s pretty [00:51:00] exciting. I really appreciate it. I hope people are taking away some gems from this one.
Dr. Mike: I sure hope so. And thank you for the opportunity. As we mentioned, it is the early days of this concept in healthcare. So I appreciate you helping us get the word out and an opportunity to explain some of this. It’s been great.
Dr. Mike: Sure. We need to hear it. All right. Thank you.
Dr. Mike: Have a good one. Thank you.
Dr. Sharp: All right, y’all thanks so much for listening as always. I hope that you took a lot away from this conversation. This software is pretty amazing from the experience that I’ve had with it so far. It’s frankly, in the early stages and I’m excited to see what comes from this point because it is already pretty comprehensive and super helpful in our practice.
Again, if you want to get the built-in workflows that I have designed for Dock Health, you can go to [00:52:00] dock.health/the-testing-psychologist and you’ll get a free trial and a demo to walk through everything. And again, those built-in workflows that I developed specifically for testing.
All right. Hope you enjoyed this one. Stay tuned, subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any upcoming episodes and I’ll look forward to talking with you next time.
The information in this podcast and on the Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is [00:53:00] intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.