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[00:00:00] Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

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Hey everybody, welcome back. Glad to have y’all. I am excited to be talking about my topic today because I’m reviewing the 2022 Group Practice Owners Summit Conference. The reason I’m excited is because this is the first time that [00:01:00] the conference has occurred in person since 2019. Back then, it was one of my favorite conferences, and that held true this time this year as well.

I’ll give you a little spoiler. I thought it was incredible, but I will share my thoughts on in-person events in general, the return to in-person events, the conference production and vibe, and the content of the conference, of course. So if you’re a group practice owner, there’s a lot to be heard here. Solo practice owners, maybe not so much, but I’m sure you’ll be able to take some nuggets from the content.

Without further ado, let’s have a discussion about the 2022 Group Practice Owners Summit.

[00:02:00]All right, getting started here. First things first, it has been a long time since I’ve attended an in-person event. Summer of 2019 to be exact. My last in-person event was this conference. I attended this conference right after attending the 2019 AACN Conference as both of them were in Chicago that year. A lot of Chicago time. So, it’s been a while.

I was excited to get back to this conference. I think I have said before that of all the people in the world, at least from a business standpoint, the folks at this conference understand my life better than any others. Group practice owners are my people.

[00:03:00] So going into this conference, it’s interesting, events like this are a double-edged sword for me because I’m a classic introvert who gets my energy from being alone, but at the same time, I love connecting with folks, talking about business, and developing relationships. And yet it does take a lot out of me and a need to rest afterward. I’m guessing that many of you are the same way, but I think at least in this case, it’s just been too long without having this kind of energy, at least for me.

So like I said, these are my people. And it was so energizing to be around a group of people who just get it. They get the ins and outs of running a practice; maybe not the ins and outs of running a testing practice specifically, but group practice ownership is a rollercoaster and a unique experience in and of itself. So all in all, big fan of this [00:04:00] particular in-person event.

As a side note, this is also a big driver for my somewhat renewed commitment to leading mastermind groups because I found over time that we just crave connection with others who understand our businesses and by extension our lives, and reflecting on just this conference and the general vibe in our society right now, I’m looking forward to more in-person events in the future. We’ll hope to be planning… Actually, I’m going to take hope out of it. I will be a testing psychologist event for summer, 2023.

All right, let’s move on. Let’s go to the production and the vibe of the conference.

I really loved this. I’ve been to events that were more rustic, more metropolitan, and everything in between. Between those two, I [00:05:00] am a metropolitan person. I like a nice somewhat upscale, luxurious hotel with good food and drinks nearby. Convenience is pretty key for me.

This place did not disappoint. It was held at the Loews Hotel near the Chicago O’Hare airport. Production was great. The conference ran smoothly. Sessions were on time. There was a restaurant right there in the hotels. It was convenient for lunch and meetups. They utilized a conference app called Whova, which allows for discussion, meetup groups, conversation, and competition. They gamify participation in the conference. So folks who answer questions and attend sessions and so forth, get points. There was a leaderboard- a [00:06:00] nice little element to the whole experience.

The only complaint I think with the production of the event was the pace. There were several sessions each day, which was great for learning; there was a ton of information, but not so good for downtime and processing. So that was one thing that I took away from this. I would like a little more spaciousness in my events.

As an added bonus for me in terms of location and convenience, this hotel was right by a nice running trail that went by the river, which was also nearby. So even though it was in the city next to the airport, it was a very short walk to get onto a fairly wooded trail that made it feel like you were out of the city.

Now let’s talk about content.

The content was so good. I took a lot away from this [00:07:00] conference. I’m going to give some highlights. I attended a lot of sessions. So this is going to be a quick and dirty version of the content. There’s no way I could summarize all of these presentations, but I’m going to pick out a few key nuggets and hit you with some quotes and things that I took away that stuck with me.

The first one was the keynote presentation from Donald Miller. Anybody who’s listened to the podcast or been in any of my mastermind groups or consulting, you know that I love Don Miller’s work. He wrote Building a StoryBrand. His keynote was a nice summary of the StoryBrand material with some new stuff thrown in.

StoryBrand Framework is a marketing framework. If you haven’t read the book, Building a StoryBrand, it’s a great book. I recommend it often for folks looking to figure out ways [00:08:00] to craft their websites, their taglines, their copy, elevator pitch, and all that stuff.

Here are just a few things that stood out from his presentation. I was pleasantly surprised because I’ve read this book many times. I’ve read all of his books at least once. And I thought that it might be old news, but there’s plenty of gems, plenty of new content. So here are just a few things.

One thing he said was you have 8 seconds to catch people’s attention on your website or during a conversation. If you’re not catching people’s attention within 8 seconds, you’re lost.

Another thing he said was, associate your product and services with the survival of your customer. So this plays on the evolutionary theory of energy conservation and expenditure. People invest in things that they think will help them survive and thrive. And so, linking our product, which is our assessment [00:09:00] or therapy, if you’re doing therapy, linking that with the survival of your customer.

Help people understand what their lives could look like if they buy your product. In our case, this might look like something like you could have peace of mind. Your home could be peaceful. You might feel like a good parent again, things like that.

Those are just a few takeaways from his presentation. The theme from the StoryBrand framework is that you need to tell people what you do very simply in a way that makes it feel like life and death if they were to choose your product or not. So really playing to your customers’ basic needs, fears, survival instinct, that sort of thing.

The next presentation I went to was from Julie Herres at Green Oak Accounting. The one thing that I took away from this [00:10:00] presentation was that she recommended that you only give bonuses for truly exceeding expectations. I think a lot of us get caught up in the idea that we have to give bonuses to our employees. That’s the norm in other businesses. Christmas bonus and so forth. Julie said, only give bonuses for those employees who are truly exceeding expectations.

The next presentation I went to was from Lindsay Keisman. Lindsay is a leadership development coach. A great person. Here are a few things that I took away from her presentation.

She said organizational change happens slowly. This was a great reminder for me. I think as leaders, we can get wrapped up in our heads and think that just because we decided something, it’s going to happen immediately. Maybe that’s just me. Hopefully not. This is a good reminder [00:11:00] to remember that does not play out in real life. Organizational change happens slowly.

Another thing that she said was as group practice owners, we are leading future leaders. Our job as group practice owners is to take care of our clinicians and our staff with the possibility that any of them could become future leaders in our practice. And so, leading by example is incredibly important.

The last thing that I took away from Lindsay’s presentation was that the team does not have the same perspective as the leader does. So you have to make your intentions and expectations extra clear. I’m going to talk about this principle in a future episode actually on negotiating skills for clinicians. But one of the errors that we make when we’re talking with someone is assuming that they think the same way we do. [00:12:00] Lindsay reemphasized that that is not true. So we have to do the extra work to put ourselves inside our employees’ minds and recognize they don’t have the same perspective as we do, which means we have to be extra clear with our intentions.

Now, the next presentation I went to was great. It was from Nathalie Edmond who is a cultural, accountability, and diversity coach and educator.

I forgot to mention. Links to all of these individuals, their businesses, and resources will be in the show notes. So you can check them out. They all offer fantastic services.

Nathalie talked about striving for accountable spaces versus safe or brave spaces. I thought that was an interesting distinction. She’s talking about the vibe or the culture we’re trying to create in our practices. She said to strive for accountable spaces versus safe or brave spaces. So [00:13:00] spaces where folks can have conversations, not necessarily just a space where people feel safe.

A random fact, she leaned on the term Latine as the community-driven term for those folks. She reinforced that the word Hispanic was created by Nixon as a political move. And the term LatinX is a little bit fraught within the community. So she emphasized the use of Latine. I’m not saying I’m behind that or not, but that was a point that she made pretty clearly and feels strongly about.

We’ve worked a lot in our practice on DEI Principles, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Nathalie reemphasizes, I keep wanting to say reemphasized. [00:14:00] Nathalie included the term belonging in that equation as well: diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging which is related to her idea of calling people in versus calling people out on their work in the diversity and accountability space. 

I love that. Now that’s easy for me to say because I’m typically someone who might get called out as a relatively privileged white man. So I want to own that, but her idea of calling people in feels much more inclusive and less intimidating than calling people out when they’re trying to do their work.

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The last point that I wanted to highlight from her presentation is she talked a lot about matching your practice to the area demographics. So if you live in a predominantly white area, don’t get stuck on creating a “diverse” staff. Just focus on calling white people in to do their work. I think a lot of us get wrapped up in, Oh, I would like to have a diverse staff. I want to hire people of color. That is fantastic. And if you live in an area where that is challenging, you might be spinning your wheels and wasting time a bit rather than focusing the energy on, like she said, calling white people in and supporting them in doing that work.

The next presentation I want to talk [00:16:00] about is Niki Ramirez from HR Answers. I love Niki. I met her for the first time at the meet and greet at this conference. There are few individuals who I can think of who are as genuine, down-to-earth, grounded, and kind as Niki was right from the beginning. She runs an HR company that helps practices like ours. I have heard plenty of good reviews about them in Facebook groups over the years.

Two things that stood out from Niki’s presentation.

She’s talked about giving people feed-forward instead of feedback. Now, this is just a little semantic trick to get your mind thinking about the future impact of your words versus looking backward. So she emphasized doing a feed-forward approach with the hope that someone can grow [00:17:00] into this material that you’re feeding them, these thoughts that you’re giving them.

She talked about sharing your own mistakes for interviewing. We typically ask something like, tell me about a tough clinical situation or tell me about a mistake you may have made and how you’ve handled it. She advised to share a mistake that you have made as well during that interviewing process to help normalize making mistakes and connect with your interviewee.

The last point that I wanted to highlight from her presentation was the difference between behavior and performance and the impact on a performance improvement plan.

In the past, I’ve always thought if someone is not doing well, then you give a warning, you put them on a Performance Improvement Plan or a PIP, and then you go from there. They either change or they don’t, [00:18:00] and that’s how you handle that. But she made the distinction between behavior versus performance.

Behavior is a will issue, not a skill issue, by which she meant, behavior is the way someone is. It’s the can versus the should, that sort of dynamic. And so if someone has a behavior issue or a will issue, you would not do a performance improvement plan, because theoretically, that’s not something that could be improved. It’s that can’t versus won’t kind of thing.

Contrasting that is performance. Performance is a skill issue, not a will issue. And in that case, [00:19:00] Performance Improvement Plan is more appropriate because it’s easier to measure the outcome when it’s a skill being measured. So interesting takeaway from there.

The last presentation came from Ken Clark. For those of you who don’t know Ken Clark, he is a mega practice owner in Arkansas and Texas. Think probably upwards of 250 employees, maybe 20 locations, something wild like that.

Ken is the guy that I go to when I need coaching now at this point in my practice reaching almost 50 employees. He’s one of the few folks who are running one of these mega practices. He’s also got a background in financial management and analysis and is a therapist himself. He’s got a lot of skills that he brings to the table.

His presentation was great. It was also [00:20:00] terrifying. He did a presentation called something like 10 Factors That Are Going to Influence Our Field over the Next Five Years. And there’s way too much to take away from this and summarize, but here are a few things.

He presented the idea that Artificial Intelligence is likely going to be auditing our notes in the near future. This is a short leap from where we’re at now. The implication here is that AI is going to audit our notes and make near-instantaneous decisions about approving or rejecting claims based on CPT coding and the content of the note. I don’t know how likely this is to impact testing specifically, but it will have a direct impact on therapy notes.

He also talked about telemedicine competition. We have been insulated from this with testing, but it is coming. You may have seen the company [00:21:00] Parallel. Parallel is a company that’s offering testing over telehealth primarily, it is venture capital-backed and something to look out for.

Another point that he made on the flip side is that venture capital is pulling out of mental health at this point. So companies like BetterHelp and Talkspace, all of the venture capital that was flowing around buying practices over the last 2 to 3 years, it’s starting to dry up. So companies like BetterHelp and Talkspace are not turning a profit. That can’t go on forever. Some venture capital firms are starting to see that and pull the money out, which is good for us. That is good for us. That means that we’re in less danger of being bought by venture capital.

However, mental health services are coming in places like Walmart, CVS and [00:22:00] Amazon. They’re already testing mental health. Again, testing is a little bit insulated. It’s not typical run-of-the-mill mental health services, but it’s coming. I’m sure folks are looking at it and trying to figure out a way to offer it cheaply and more efficiently.

Another piece of emphasis that is very applicable to us is the principle of interoperability, which means EHRs that talk to, or link to big hospital EHRs. So with the open records not mandate, but open records guidelines that are coming, it’s going to be helpful to have an EHR that talks to big hospital EHRs and has connections there where folks can view their records in one place.

He also talked about the upcoming likely recession. [00:23:00] Private pay practices may take a hit as money dries up and folks get a little more cautious about what they’re spending and cut out luxury spending. It goes back to that principle that I talked about earlier from Donald Miller in tying our products to survival of the individual. Only when it’s a survival choice will people pay money for it.

Ken lastly emphasized that the only Key Performance Indicator KPI, you’d probably hear that term thrown around, that we should care about is profitability. Period. We can mess with other numbers, but the only one that matters in your practice is profitability.

In closing, tons of good information at this conference. I loved it. I took a lot away from it. I have revisited these notes many times and will be using them to make decisions in my practice. And [00:24:00] I can’t wait for the next one. Met some fantastic people and look forward to connecting again.

So, I hope you enjoy this as always and be thinking about what conferences you might want to attend in the coming year, including a potential Testing Psychologist event in summer 2023.

All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes. So make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcast.

And if you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist Mastermind Groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development, [00:25:00] beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework. We have accountability. We have support. We have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website are intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for [00:26:00] 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.

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