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Hey everyone. Welcome back. Good to be here, as always. I’m excited to have a return guest with me today.
Dr. Michael Docktor is the co-founder & CEO of Dock Health, a HIPAA-compliant workflow automation and collaboration platform built for healthcare. Mike and Dock Health came out [00:01:00] of Boston Children’s Hospital where he was a practicing gastroenterologist and he’s driven several transformations as the former Clinical Director of Innovation and Director of Clinical Mobile Solutions. He has over 10 years of experience in clinical practice and digital innovation and has been at the forefront of the design and implementation of health technology.
So as I said, Mike is back. If you didn’t catch the first episode, we talked all about Dock Health and what it is. Today, we are talking a little bit more in detail about lessons that Mike and his team have learned over the years as they’ve built the software and worked with hundreds of healthcare practices on task management and automation.
He has a unique perspective on these topics and we dive into some of the things that he thinks make a successful practice, [00:02:00] some of the consistent or most useful automation that might benefit any practice, and generally, just the landscape of automation and task management and things that we can do to make our lives easier. So this is for any of you out there who are struggling to keep track of all the tasks in your practice. I think there’s a lot to enjoy and take away from this episode.
As always, if you are looking for support in your practice and you’d like to join a group of psychologists and get some group coaching and accountability, you can check out The Testing Psychologist mastermind groups at www.thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting.
All right, let’s jump to my conversation with Dr. Michael Docktor.
Mike, welcome back to the podcast.
Dr. Mike: Thank you for having me. Great to see you again.
Dr. Sharp: Likewise. This is always a cool conversation to be able to come back after two years or maybe more from our first conversation. I’m really eager to hear what’s been going on in your world and some reflections you might have about this whole task management business having been at it for a while. So welcome. Thanks for coming back again.
Dr. Mike: It’s always fun and lots of lessons learned. So looking forward to re-exploring and going from there.
Dr. Sharp: Cool. Well, my typical question to lead off is always why is this important? Why spend your time doing what you do? I know you answered that the first time around, [00:04:00] but I’m sure there are plenty of folks who maybe didn’t hear that episode. I’d love to both get your original why and then see if there’s anything that has changed over the years or intensified as you’ve been doing this.
Dr. Mike: Thank you. So to just rewind and remind folks if they haven’t heard, they should listen to the first one, it was so good. I’m a gastroenterologist. I’ve been working at Boston Children’s for the last 15 years and I spent a lot of time as a clinician there but also working in innovation and informatics there.
I got to see how the rest of the world works in some regard. I got to see the tools and the technologies that other industries were using. And frankly, it was quite jealous as a clinician that we didn’t have the right tools. I think fundamentally, that was the light bulb moment.
I was like, wow, there are these great tools. And specifically, tools like Asana, Monday, which didn’t exist at the [00:05:00] time, or a tool called Wunderlist, which is basically a to-do list that I manage. You probably remember from the initial podcast, I was managing my shopping list with my wife, and I put something on the list and she saw it. And when she was at the store and checked it off, I knew that she got it and it was like, holy cow, we’re closing the loop. This is amazing. I need this for patient care.
And that was the inception 5+ years ago. I was like, we just need a way to be more accountable as a care team, and I need a way to ensure that I’m managing all the administrative things that are part of my superlative patient care, and we didn’t have that. We were using email and Post-it notes and Excel files and the inbox of our EHR, which was almost like rewinding what email functionality was like. So not very helpful, needless to say.
And so lessons learned and [00:06:00] what has happened in the 3.5 years since we spun out a company at Boston Children’s and a global pandemic happened, a banking crisis happened, physician and clinician burnout has only escalated and it’s the echo chamber of the world right now.
We’ve just learned that the need is greater now than it ever was. There is this newfound excitement and adoption of technology to solve the woes of medicine and a lot of a type and some of it’s real. I believe we’re on to something really exciting. And that’s fundamentally helping care teams, broadly speaking, clinical and administrative people do the work that’s important to ensure great patient care and automate as much of that as possible and codify as much of that as possible and create the accountability and visibility that’s needed to ensure that we’re working together as a team, our patients are well [00:07:00] cared for, our clients are well cared for and we’re checking all the boxes and we’re not relying on the patient to check in with us and see how that thing is going.
I always joke internally like the difference between a primary care practice, that’s your run-of-the-mill versus a concierge practice is that someone at the concierge practice is working really hard to ensure all those things are done on behalf of the patient, as opposed to generally speaking, the patient being handed off those tools, do this referral, call this thing and call in your prescription refill and ensure that you have this prior authorization done.
We want to bring that concierge model to everyone. We want to be able to help everyone get the care that they deserve and help the team do the work that they want to get done on behalf of their patients as efficiently [00:08:00] and collaborative way as possible.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. There’s a lot to unpack there. I want to say from the start, I feel like this is such a cool concept and it is crazy to me that it hasn’t existed up until 3.5 years ago. You’ve hit on something that is really valuable to a lot of folks. The statement that stood out to me from everything you said was bringing concierge capability to every practice. I’ve never really thought of it that way, but that really resonates.
Everybody is more overwhelmed these days including our clients or patients. So if we can take things off their plate, that’s a huge service to them, especially if it’s less effort for our part.
Dr. Mike: That’s one of the lessons learned in the world in the two years since we’ve last connected. We’re now helping hundreds of practices and [00:09:00] organizations and thousands of customers. And we’ve learned a lot about, well, fundamentally, what makes a good practice or organization run.
I think of the concierge model. And again, direct primary care is another example on that. I don’t want to say that you have to charge patients lots of money in a concierge model to get quality care but fundamentally, that money spent in a concierge model is generally going to help manage the administrative burden on behalf of the patient, to give them a great experience, to give them the Ritz-Carlton white-glove experience that we all want as patients and not everyone can afford.
A lot of times it’s a technology solution that I believe we can help organizations with that to allow them to provide the best care that they want while not having to [00:10:00] spend tons of money to hire more staff and everyone wins in the end.
Dr. Sharp: Right. Let’s back up just for a second. We’re anchoring around this concierge concept. So we hear about concierge medicine a lot. I don’t know that there’s a real equivalent in the mental health world or as much of a movement. So tell me, how would you define concierge? What is a concierge practice as far as you’re seeing?
Dr. Mike: Oh, man, I hope I don’t get myself into trouble here. In general, I see and again, I’m thinking more as the average consumer here and not wearing my physician hat, concierge model of care is generally speaking, you pay a membership fee, whether it’s monthly or annual and you get better access to your provider, and you get again, someone managing the annoyances that often fall through the cracks, which is where less than optimal patient care happens.
And so you’re at least [00:11:00] in the generic sense, this is generally something that people pay for. It’s generally expensive and it’s for folks who want better experience, not that necessarily the providers are any better but the experience is better. We’ve boiled it down to that experience is because the practice is maniacally focused on ensuring a great experience for the patient by doing all the things that need to get done.
Unfortunately, those are the things that we often as I was a non-concierge provider at Boston’s Children’s Hospital but I always want to provide that concierge-level care. For me, then it would fell upon me to manage all this, to do this for my patients. And it’s simply untenable. It’s just not something that you can do.
I’m sure you can echo the same sentiment but how do you do that? How do you scale yourself? How do you scale your team? [00:12:00] How do you automate as much of these things as possible? And so again, it’s taking from the consumer tech world in these other industries and bring that into health care where it’s needed so desperately.
We’re just trying to help the team get organized around what are the things that we do for this patient. Who’s accountable for those things? And then how can we automate as much of that as possible? So we’re not adding work for people and providers and care teams but we’re using technology to manage that stuff.
Dr. Sharp: Well, I think at this point is probably safe to say that people are super interested in what we’re talking about; automating and saving work and technology and so forth. And you have this super unique perspective.
Actually, I’m very jealous that you have gotten this, not only birds of you, but you’ve been down in the trenches with so many practices; medical, mental health, big, small. That you [00:13:00] have, I’d imagine, a pretty interesting perspective on essentially what makes a well-run practice: the habits, the technology, the systems. I’d love to transition to some of those, I guess you’d say, lessons that you’ve learned over the years like what are well-functioning practices doing? Maybe we start there.
Dr. Mike: Yeah, happy to. There’s certainly lots of elements but I think one thing that has really become super clear to me as someone who again, I went to medical school, I didn’t go to business school, and where I’m learning, clinicians generally speaking, don’t have an operational mindset. They don’t have the task management mindset. I think because of that, it’s really hard to run a lean business.
It’s hard to run an organization, as often clinician owners, it’s hard to run an operationally efficient organization and understand [00:14:00] things like the SOP, standard operating procedures. These are things that, I didn’t learn that in medical school. I hear that a lot when I talk to practices and practice managers in particular, the good ones that really get it, and the more sophisticated organizations, we’re helping medicine providers that provide care for thousands of customers around the world.
Those are operationally efficient machines and what makes the difference between them and single provider, solo practitioner is they’ve got knowledge of that research. They have people thinking about these things and I have people establishing their standard operating procedures in their best practices, and they’re organized around their processes.
And so what we help practices, clinicians, organizations do is provide the infrastructure and the platform upon which they can put their standard operating procedures that are best practices that can live and breathe and be accessible to everyone. So that if this is our [00:15:00] process for, let’s just say, onboarding a new patient, because everyone hopefully needs to do that.
I’ll use the word patient and client interchangeably here, because I know generally speaking, in your world they’re clients, in my world, the patients but members, clients, all the same. Bring them into the practice or the organization or onboarding them as we talk about in software terms. That’s essential to the business, whether it comes as a referral or it’s just a new patient coming in off the street.
These are fundamental requirement of an organization and just putting the structure around that process like, how do we want this to go? What is the ideal picture of that process look like? How do we make it as seamless and easy for the end user, for the customer or the patient? How do we make it as automated as possible for our team? How do we make it as highly reliable as possible so that something doesn’t sit in the in [00:16:00] basket for a week until we get back to a patient and they wonder like, do they think we’re a bunch of jokers. Like we’re not showing them our best self. So to me that is a common workflow.
To get back to the question, fundamentally, it’s organizations that really well define their processes, their best practices, who’s responsible for what. And so what we can do is help create that workflow. Here’s the onboarding process. Here are the 10 steps we do each and every time. Step 1 is always defined by the, let’s just say the scheduling team is doing step 1 and the clinician is doing step 2 and so you define what are the steps? Who are the people responsible? What’s the data that we need to collect around that process?
And what we’ve gotten really good at since the time that, probably the last book, is we integrate with a lot of the systems that matter to clinical teams, whether that’s electronic health records, it’s their CRMs [00:17:00] or their customer relationship management tools, their email solutions, their RingCentral stuff.
We try and weave it all together so that we can move data from one system to the next and automate as much of that flow to take what was otherwise a highly manual, highly unreliable process that takes time and effort and usually human to a highly automated, highly reliable and ideally really efficient and quick process. So it’s great on the patient side because they see this really slick process and it’s great on the care team side because they’re doing the stuff that’s important.
One of those 10 steps is call the patient, have a conversation, establish a rapport and schedule the visit. But there’s a lot of nonsense, for lack of a better word, in between. It’s sending emails or have them fill out a form and it’s making sure the form is completed and it’s making sure the HIPAA thing was signed.
It’s all these things that can be automated [00:18:00] now. And so that’s really where our focus is in trying to define the processes and automate as much of it as possible.
Dr. Sharp: I think that’s super cool. You’re speaking my language. I talk with my consultant clients so much about not doing the work that they aren’t supposed to be doing, and none of us are getting paid or were trained to send emails and monitor signatures and all that kind of stuff. These are the tasks that should be automated.
You said something interesting a minute ago that I wanted to follow up on a little bit, which is, you said that the most successful organizations that you found have embodied this idea of efficiency. I’m trying to think how you phrase it, or they think in terms of systems or they have someone who is thinking in terms of systems.
I’m just curious, [00:19:00] from your experience, is that something that you feel like people can learn or is that a temperamental thing or do people have to go higher? How does somebody go from, let’s just say like hey, I’m a solo practitioner, I’m overwhelmed, to thinking and systems and even wrapping their mind around an idea like this?
Dr. Mike: First of all, it’d be nice for us all to have like, I will one day be spending a lot of time focusing on training our clinicians for the task management mindset and the operational pieces of running an organization that we simply, it’s just not part of our education. But I think this is stuff that isn’t magical. This is stuff that people just need to understand that it ought to be part of running a thoughtful, efficient organization where you want to provide the best care for your [00:20:00] patients, clients, et cetera.
So to me, it is that task management mindset but it’s that organizational, operationally efficient mindset. There’s formal training. There’s many books that have been dedicated to this concept. But I think it is at its core, it’s just sitting down with your team and understanding like, well, how can we do this better? How can we bring in some technology to make this process?
It’s hitting the whiteboard. It’s going back and saying, well, what is the user experience for our customers or our patients? How do we make that better on our side too, the clinician and administrative side? And so that operational mindset, that task management mindset, obviously, there’s so much for us to focus on when we run a practice.
I never was a practice owner, but now I’ve talked to enough so I feel like [00:21:00] I have scars on my back too. I think this isn’t magic, in that it takes time. So I don’t want to sit here on a podcast and tell your members and your community that like, oh, yeah, Dock Health, we’re going to magically fix it all.
It takes an investment just like everything but the investments pay dividends. The investment here is, let’s sit down and define our process. Let’s sit down and actually say as an organization, we’re going to use this tool and we’re going to all use it because the power, it’s not fun to collaborate by yourself.
So a task management tool using it for yourself, it’s not so sticky. I’ve done that for myself to do list. It’s not very helpful. When you’re collaborating and you’re communicating, there’s a flywheel that develops there. There’s a mindset that [00:22:00] we as an organization say, okay, we’re going to do this, really helps to have leadership that says, okay, folks, we’re doing this. That’s part of the task management operational mindset too.
Again, I think it’s being willing to put in the time and effort to define your processes, to gather the team, to push it because there is some inertia to overcome when that, change management is tough. I talked about this a little bit. Getting people to change the way that they do things, even as they know it’s inefficient, it’s still really tough. It’s tough, even as the champion, like okay, guys, we can do this.
Ultimately, the end goal is to make a more productive system and process where everyone wins and ultimately, you get time back. At the end of the day, I want to get home and see my kids, and I want to get to my kids’ soccer practice or whatever it may be. This whole clinician burnout, it’s not just the clinicians, [00:23:00] it’s the administrative people in health care too, we all just want to do really great work and go home or do whatever brings us joy.
And if we can be more operationally efficient as an organization, we can achieve all that. We can be more efficient in our work. We can reduce costs and improve care and ultimately get home or do whatever it is that brings us joy.
Dr. Sharp: It’s a great idea. I think a lot of people can get on board with that. Let’s go back to this whole idea of efficiencies and things that you’ve learned. My audience is pretty mixed. There are some folks who are solo. There are many folks who run larger practices or have a few employees. Are there threads that you’ve seen that run through even larger practices to smaller practices? You mentioned onboarding new clients, are there [00:24:00] other top areas of efficiency or systems that you found are great, low-hanging fruit to automate?
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Dr. Mike: Yeah, I think fundamentally, wherever there is a process that happens with high frequency, that has many players that are part of it and where that collaboration and knowledge of where processes at, fundamentally, that’s the ideal use case for us and so certainly new patient onboarding is the most common use case for all the reasons I mentioned earlier.
It’s fundamental to an organization. It’s frequently a high frequency. It’s high touch. It involves a lot of systems. And so again, when we work with arguably a larger customer that’s got a lot of technology and maybe even has their own technology team to support this, we can automate that whole process.
It’s weaving together multiple systems. It’s an EHR. It’s [00:26:00] a CRM. It’s a telephony solution. It’s a form tool. It’s another system. It’s a Gmail or Google Calendar Integration too. So those can be really complicated, but fundamentally, it’s the processes I just mentioned. So onboarding, referrals, prescription refill requests.
For a national telemedicine provider, we are their inbox for any inbound message. So something that used to be an email that would come in and have to be triaged, that’s now coming in as a task assigned to the right team with a due date assigned to it and even something we call escalation rules so that if that thing isn’t answered within X amount of time, it will bubble up to the medical director in 24 hours, whatever their best practices are around that process.[00:27:00] Fundamentally, it’s the e-facts are in basket for an organization whether it’s a refill line or it’s a referral line or it’s other stuff that comes in that omnichannel stuff that an organization has to manage. Those are, I would say, the most common but really it could be any administrative process that we’re trying to clean up.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s fantastic. I haven’t really conceptualized it as, I don’t know, the way you describe it, it’s almost like a Zendesk sort of thing, like a ticket system to some degree where you’re handling all the inbound inquiries. That’s…
Dr. Mike: Yeah, very much so. For those that know what Zendesk is, which is a small slice of life but yeah, for a lot of organizations, we’re very much functioning in that capacity where [00:28:00] what would otherwise be considered a ticket, in this case, is a referral request to the ticket or a patient needs a callback or the fax came in.
Fundamentally those are tasks with patient context or client context and the metadata around that, due dates, assignments and we’ve gotten pretty slick on how we can automate a lot of those assignments and the rules around that and the downstream tasks that might get triggered when one thing happens and there’s stuff as part of a flow that you’ve already defined that might also need to be triggered. So it can get complicated but again, it boils back down to what are our processes and what among these can we really define well and automate.
Dr. Sharp: Right. Well, and of course, I’ve talked before and we work together on these workflows for testing, the whole testing process, which has lots of steps and things that fall through the [00:29:00] cracks. It’s not referral management necessarily but it is just keeping track of all those things we have to do as part of our day to day practice.
I think about hooking people up with referrals or community resources and things like that after the process. It’s just interesting, I’m a pretty systems-minded person, and even during our conversation, I find my mind is wandering to like what else could we systemize in our practice. I’m living into that idea of thinking in a systems way, and I hope clinicians are starting to do the same thing.
Dr. Mike: Yeah, again, it’s tough. This isn’t what our brains typically think of as clinicians but in order to try to run efficient machines or practices, it certainly helps to have that mindset, or at least [00:30:00] spend a little bit of time thinking about that, or have someone whether it’s a consultant or a practice manager or someone bring in that structure because it can be super helpful.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. We talked about change management and getting people to adopt new behaviors, which is so challenging sometimes, including myself, I’m such a routined creature. I’m curious what other hurdles you’ve found to people implementing new software like this? What’s hard about it? And then the other side, how do you support people through that and get them to the other side?
Dr. Mike: It’s tough, man. I don’t know, I feel like we need another podcast on just change because that fundamentally, is the biggest barrier to entry for us. And the biggest friction point is people don’t like their cheese moved. People don’t like new stuff [00:31:00] even if they are well aware that what they’re doing is not particularly productive or efficient.
I think a lot of what we do is spend time and we have now a whole customer success professional services team which is led by a 10-year mental health practice manager. So she has incredible knowledge and insight on how practices run and the administrative challenges that we can support.
A lot of it is just doing that initial discovery of like, what is your problem? Where is the pain? Where do we need to apply our solution to help stop the bleeding, so to speak? Where is the need greatest? And that’s usually a good place for us to start.
To answer your question somewhat indirectly, I think the first part is understanding the needs of the organization and starting small because it’s [00:32:00] hard to go all in and like we’re going to solve every problem you have and become this administrative hub that we hope become for you. But going from 0 to 60 is tough. And so starting small and ensuring that the organization gets it and importantly sees the value as quickly as possible.
It’s hard for people to do another thing. The biggest pushback we hear in health care is like, my doctors don’t want another thing to do. And certainly as a physician myself, I never wanted to do another thing. I had enough stuff to do.
So we always have that in our minds, is how do we get people to feel the value as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t feel like they’re doing another thing but we’re actually making life easier for them? I always describe the phenomenon, I’m sure I’ve talked about this on the last podcast, that Friday afternoon phenomenon of leaving [00:33:00] work and just feeling like, oh, darn, I know I forgot to do something and someone’s going to call on Monday angry or some patient of mine is going to end up in the emergency room because I forgot to refill their really important prescription.
And so having a task management mindset and having a collaboration platform across your organization, I know exactly what needs to be done. I know who’s responsible for it. And sometimes it’s me and I’ll hold myself accountable to that but then sometimes other people and that worry of like, where’s this thing at? Has the loop enclosed? That can go away.
So I think it is, again, sorry, I tend to ramble here, but I think it is fundamentally understanding where the problems are, helping folks solve it, get to that value as quickly as possible so that they can feel it and then continue to reinforce it so that it’s okay. And then we just nailed your patient onboarding process.
And you’re [00:34:00] seeing that that thing just got 10X more efficient and everyone’s happy, let’s now tackle the next project, and let’s do refill request or let’s do prior authorizations. Let’s do something else that’s really painful. Again, what we’re hoping to do is build that administrative hub that really gets rid of a lot of this stuff.
Posted notes, not a great way to collaboratively manage care. Email, maybe, reply all emails, to me, not the best way to be accountable to things. And so we’re trying to replace these systems over time. Again, that’s where we’ve been most successful is just really having that leadership that says, okay, folks, we’re doing this and then chipping away at the processes so that over time you become the hub for all of this.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. So it was then, I just want to clarify for folks that what’s the, is the intent with Dock to replace [00:35:00] email, EHR, Google Workspace or is it more of a living alongside and integrating, what’s the vision here?
Dr. Mike: That’s a really good question. First and foremost, we are not a clinical system so we’re not going to be replacing EHR. The clinical system, the EHR, we consider the source of truth. That’s where you’re going to document, do bill and prescribe and schedule and do all that stuff. What the EHR most glaringly is missing is an administrative supportive layer or administrative hub. And so we think of ourselves as this left and right hand that seamlessly work together, the two halves of health care that comes together with Dock.
So Dock has, because we typically integrate with a lot of the EHRs, we have insight into who is the patient, we have insight into the orders and events that are occurring and we can trigger automatically a lot of the administrative work that is downstream of that. So an order is placed or prescription is placed or a visit is booked, we can then trigger the [00:36:00] flow that says, okay, these are the 10 things that need to happen before that patient comes in for that visit that’s just been booked.
For us, we sit alongside the EHR and in collaboration with it. And the same is true of these other systems. So we think of it like a hub and spoke model where Dock is the hub, EHR is the spoke or an element that we connect to and integrate with. Google workspaces, we can trigger emails and we can listen for emails and we can create tasks based on calendar events in Google Calendar. And can trigger workflows based on a form that could fill that, Typeform or Jotform, and we can trigger emails to be sent out through SendGrid.
Anyway, we have an ecosystem of integrations and corresponding automations that we try and bring it all together and be that connective tissue for practices. It’s new. Previous to Dock, there wasn’t a tool that brought this all [00:37:00] together. So that’s where we’re plotting new ground here but we’re trying to make organizations more efficient by weaving that stuff together instead of very broken siloed process, that is usually how healthcare works.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Going back to the change management thing, I was just considering my own journey and process. I feel like the idea of even just having another software to log into, it can sometimes be enough of a barrier to be like, I don’t want to add another thing. I hear that a lot from my consulting clients too, like how many pieces of software?
These integrations seem crucial to me. I don’t have to tell you that but the fact that you can integrate with other software and have things happen automatically without necessarily laboriously logging into and spending a bunch of time [00:38:00] is…
Dr. Mike: Yeah, just to reiterate that that is key. I think a lot of our learnings over the last few years it’s just like, it’s not just, of course, if you haven’t defined the process and put some structure on that, then the integrations and automation don’t matter but the integrations, automation are what make it sticky and would show people the value.
Unfortunately, we’re limited in our resources. We can’t integrate with everything because a lot of technologies don’t have open API’s where we can connect to it or we’re still arelatively early-stage startup and so we don’t have endless resources to do all these integrations but we’ve got lots and that list continues to grow.
Our hope, to answer your question from previous, I don’t think we’re going to replace email but I certainly think that email is not a great place to do collaborative patient care and coordinating care with reply all emails. So email is a great example of where we can [00:39:00] dramatically reduce the volume and remove the patient coordination efforts that are happening over email should be done on a system like Dock where there’s accountability, visibility, and audit trail, and patient context, all that.
Certainly the things like fax, even e-Fax, those are things that can come through Dock. So there’s lots of these tools that we look to replace. We’re not quite there where we can replace it all but I think it’s collaboratively working with the tools that folks are using is how we’ve generally approached it.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, definitely. I’m good. I know there are a lot of folks out there in bigger practices or with leadership teams and things like that are probably thinking, hey, that sounds great. We’ve got some systems, let’s figure out how to take it to the next level.
I also know there are a lot of solo practitioners out there who might be trying to do this on their own or working with a VA or an in-office assistant or something like that. [00:40:00] How do y’all help those folks along or is it really targeted towards solo folks as well? I’m curious what it looks like for smaller…
Dr. Mike: That’s a great question. I would say that we help organizations of all shapes and sizes. I would say we owe a debt of gratitude to small mental health practices upon which we built our business, particularly during the pandemic when there was just a lot of people putting up a shingle and needed a system to help get organized and we were there for them and we learned a lot in that process.
Virtual assistants are a key piece of a lot of that, particularly in mental health, I find. The challenge I see, and you may be able to speak to this better than I can but the challenge is you want to be able to know what the virtual assistant needs to work on and have the visibility when those things are done [00:41:00] and to the extent that you can automate a lot of that by, if this thing happens, this kicks off the workflow and the virtual assistant is now responsible for all those tasks and I have visibility into when he or she has done with those things.
That’s magic. We work with lots of virtual assistants individually and organizationally because I’d like to think Dock is the perfect tool that provides accountability and visibility between different organizations. A lot of this can happen in the background but that lack of visibility as of the owner is where a lot of the stress and anxiety lives, is like did that thing actually happen? How long are these things taking? Who’s got the hot potato now sort of thing?
Dr. Sharp: Definitely.
Dr. Mike: Yeah, VAs are a great use [00:42:00] case for where this can be helpful. I will say, a solo practitioner, as I had mentioned earlier, it’s hard to collaborate with yourself but that’s an organization that might need to go a little bit heavier on the automation because there’s a lot to do if you’re managing both the clinical and the administrative stuff in your practice but that’s an example where I think there’s a lot of time and effort that needs to be spent upfront to have those dividends pay off because you have to establish the systems and connect them on that. It takes time.
Dr. Sharp: True. I appreciate you talking through that. As you’re describing it in the smaller setting and VAs and assistants and knowing when things are done, the phrase trust machine came into my mind and I was like, yeah, that’s really interesting. I think that is a big problem with assistants and staff is that we have trust issues [00:43:00] in knowing when things happen or don’t happen and we’re always second guessing and it’s like almost as much cognitive load to worry about that stuff than it is to just do it ourselves. And so to have something like this, like trust machine. It’s like build trust.
Dr. Mike: I love that. Just to double-click on that. It’s not for lack of trust in the individual, but it’s a lack of insight visibility, and accountability into a process. Fundamentally, this was founded because I needed a trust machine with my team; my admin, and my nurse and how do we work better together?
And it’s not that I trusted them implicitly, but I never have like an auditor. I never had visibility into like, did they actually do that? Was that complete? Am I responsible for something? Should I be trusted? When is it my turn to do that step and what might be a long and [00:44:00] complicated process?
And so part of what I think we can provide organizations is that visibility, accountability, and for lack of a better word, an easier way to delegate responsibility. Like how do I create a workflow and launch that? And just now my team’s responsible for that. I don’t have to pick up the phone and call and track it down and check on it a week later and check on it two weeks later. Delegation is easier in a collaboration platform.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I’m with you. It’s such a cool thing. It’s exciting to come back and hear everything that y’all been working on the ways that you’ve grown and the reflections and things that you’ve learned over the years because what helps you helps us. I appreciate your time.
I will say this for folks, I have found that this is one of those things that’s [00:45:00] hard to describe and hard to bring to life unless you see it and make it super concrete. So this is my encouragement to any of y’all listening. If this sounds interesting, go hit the demo, which will be linked in the show notes, and sign up and actually do a demonstration so you can see what this looks like because it feels a little abstract, task management, automation, and this and that, but I think when you see it in action, that’s where the magic happens. So that’s just an endorsement to at least check it out and see what it looks like.
Dr. Mike: Thank you. I would tend to agree with you. It is difficult to speak to it in the abstract and it does sound magical when you hear about it. I was like, how is this feel? I do think particularly when you see your processes, a lot of what we do is we’ll take people’s flows or their processes and just created the Dock in real-time and it takes 2 minutes and then they go, wow. Okay. Now I can imagine what [00:46:00] that would look like for me and my team.
And then, of course, just to be open and honest, it takes some time to work with us to define the process, to integrate it with your systems but the value in the end is much more efficient organizations, happier employees, happier customers or patients/clients. Ultimately, to go back all the way to the beginning, that was what the mission was all about. That was where I was like, I’m going to leave my full-time job as a clinician to try and solve this problem. I would imagine everyone else seems to have this problem too.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Well, I think you’re onto something. That’s for sure. I appreciate your time, Mike. I am amazed that we went this entire time. We didn’t mention AI once. We are not going to go down that rabbit hole, but maybe that’s another podcast.
Dr. Mike: This may be the first podcast that hasn’t mentioned AI.
Dr. Sharp: Yeah, we’ll save that.
Dr. Mike: Looking forward to the [00:47:00] next one on AI change management. Maybe we’ll make some progress there between now and then.
Dr. Sharp: I love it. All right, well, thanks. It’s good to talk to you as always.
Dr. Mike: You too. Thanks, Jeremy, if you will.
Dr. Sharp: 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 or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
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; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot [00:48:00] 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 professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here and [00:49:00] 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.