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[00:00:00]Dr. Sharp: Hello everyone. Welcome to the Testing Psychologist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Many of y’all know that I have been using TherapyNotes as our practice EHR for over 10 years now. I’ve looked at others and I keep coming back to TherapyNotes because they do it all. If you’re interested in an EHR for your practice, you can get two free months of TherapyNotes by going to thetestingpsychologist.com/therapynotes and enter the code “testing”.

This episode is brought to you by PAR.

The new PAR training platform is now available and is the new home for PARtalks webinars, as well as on-demand learning and product training. Learn more at parinc.com\resources\par-training.

All right, everyone. Welcome back to the [00:01:00] podcast. Glad to be here with you as always. And I’m excited to talk with my guests today, Tory Krone and Madeline Larsen.

Tory and Madeline are cousins and co-founders of PracticeVital, a new software startup dedicated to more data-driven group practice management. We love data, right?

Tory is a licensed clinical therapist with nearly 15 years of experience as a therapist and in leadership positions in all levels of care. She is also the founder and managing director of a group practice based in Chicago. Madeline recently left her 15-year career in advertising to spearhead PracticeVital’s design and marketing efforts. Both their husbands — Brendan, a technology consultant, and Tom, a software engineer in the startup space — round out PracticeVital’s founding team.

There are some cool aspects to this business, not the least of which is the fact that it’s a family business, and we talk about that during the podcast, what that’s like, and how it [00:02:00] came about within their family.

We talk a lot about PracticeVital and how it can help practices, primarily group practices, could be a small group practice all the way up to a much larger group practice, but we talk about data in general and why it’s important to measure data and metrics in our practices. We talk about how to use that data to coach our clinicians know when to hire and many more things. And, of course, we talk about how PracticeVital can help testing practices specifically.

So if you have ever heard anyone recommend that you need to have a “dashboard” for your practice, and maybe even you tried to build one, maybe you tried to buy one and implement it or if you just started to wrap your mind around the concept of tracking “KPIs” in your practice, this is the episode for you.

We use PracticeVital in our practice, and it [00:03:00] has been a game changer in terms of tracking metrics that are important to us. So I hope that you take a lot away from this conversation.

I’ll also add that if you do a demo with PracticeVital and sign up, you can use the promo code in the show notes to get $30 off your first month with PracticeVital. So make sure to check that out as well.

Now, if you are a practice owner and you would like some support on the business side of things, whether it’s growing, scaling, or refining your testing practice, I would love to chat with you and perhaps give you some of that support. So you can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting and sign up for a pre-consulting call to see if it’s a good fit.

All right, let’s go to my conversation with Tory Krone and Madeline Larson from PracticeVital.

[00:04:00] Tory, Madeline, welcome to the podcast.

Tory: Thank you. Thanks so much for having us.

Madeline: Hi there.

Dr. Sharp: Hey, I’m so glad to have y’all. I love software and technology and anytime I can have a more in-depth conversation with software folks, especially here in our field, that’s an exciting moment for me. So, I’m looking forward to talking through the software that you all put together and how it can be helpful for us, but maybe we start just with introductions as usual when I have multiple folks on to give the audience a little opportunity to orient to your voices and who you are. So, introduce yourselves, say who you are, and what you do within PracticeVital.

Tory, do you want to go first?

Tory: Sure. I’m Tory Krone. I am a practice [00:05:00] owner in Chicago. I have a midsize practice and I’m one of the co-founders of PracticeVital.

Madeline: Hello. I’m Madeline Larson. Great to see you. We’re happy to join you today. I am the lead for our marketing and design efforts with PracticeVital. I have a career in marketing and marketing strategy and have leaned into the design aspect of this product as we’ve set forth in the last six months or so.

Dr. Sharp: So does that mean you are responsible for the aesthetic of PracticeVital?

Madeline: That’s correct.

Dr. Sharp: Well, I’ll give you a huge kudos right off the bat. I think most people are like this, but I feel like I’m particularly keyed into the aesthetics of any software and it captured my attention right away. Nice work.

Madeline: Thank you. I’m a big believer in how design can not only persuade people to lean [00:06:00] in but also help inform and drive a story or a narrative. So I appreciate that and continue to try to bring that to what we offer to customers in PracticeVital.

Dr. Sharp: That’s fantastic. Let’s see. 

Tory: I don’t think Madeline mentioned that she’s the co-founder as well. So probably I’m going to have to share that.

Madeline: Yes.

Dr. Sharp: That’s important. That might be a good place to start actually because y’all have maybe somewhat of a unique story with the founding of the company and how all this came about. So maybe we start there. I’d love to share with the audience how PracticeVital started.

Tory: Sure. It starts with me and my practice. In 2023, it was a rough year. I know a lot of people had a rough time as practice owners in 2023. I went out on maternity leave. I had my 3rd baby in 5 years. My whole family got COVID four months in. There was just a lot [00:07:00] going on. I needed to simplify and it felt a lot like I just can’t have this practice run without me. I thought it would but the reality was that there weren’t the systems in place, but beyond systems, I think I didn’t have the data to know how things were going without me there running it day to day.

I always had a feeling of how things were but not the data that I needed to know when I was stepping away that things were still running efficiently and that the practice was healthy. It felt like it was out of control. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t have a grasp on it.

Dr. Sharp: It’s a terrible feeling.

Tory: Yeah. I think a lot of it was just the empathy that Madeline and Tom, two of our co-founders, had for me and my experience. They are family members, so it’s me, my husband, and the two of them that are all co-founders. It was over dinner a few different times, we went on a trip together and I was [00:08:00] lamenting some of these things about my practice. I think we were all trying to figure out how to solve the problem for me.

And so it started with my husband and Tom building a dashboard. I kept hearing about this dashboard concept. I had not had one. I had some Google spreadsheets. They were not very sophisticated and they started to build it and it took off. It was way beyond what I could have imagined.

Tom’s background is a software engineer. He’s an MIT grad and very adept at that. He had the time. He had just finished a project after about 10 years. And then my husband was in technology and consulting and was working for Deloitte and then Cisco. And so, it was like, all our backgrounds are very synergistic and they complement each other.

So they started to build the dashboard and [00:09:00] then we realized everybody needs access to this. This is not something that we should be recreating the wheel for every time. It feels like everybody has their version of a different dashboard. Everybody is building their own, but it’s not efficient. There are courses you can take to learn how to build a dashboard, but then it’s still in Google Sheets, and it just felt so inefficient. So that’s the origin. We’re pretty recent. We’re still within the first year of our company, and it has felt like there’s such a need for this.

Dr. Sharp: I totally agree. It’s remarkable how far it’s come along. Full disclosure, maybe the audience is reading between the lines, but we use PracticeVital in our practice. I’ve been struck by how sophisticated it looks like I alluded to earlier, but also the functionality is really good. It’s impressive that y’all come that far [00:10:00] in such a short period of time.

This whole family dynamic family aspect to it is compelling to me. I also have a family business off to the side. We’re navigating some of those dynamics. I’m just curious to look behind the curtain a little bit. Can y’all think back to, I don’t know what the moment was, but when or who said it, but like how you move from that, hey, this seems like a great idea to we’re putting money in the bank and we’re going to go for it. Can you talk through that process?

Madeline: It was this, Tory mentioned over dinner one afternoon. We had our kids all running around. There are 5 kids amongst the 4 of us and we were saying, you know what, there’s actually something here. There was this light bulb moment of, okay, wait a second. This is solving a really specific problem for [00:11:00] Tory, but what we’re hearing and what she is elaborating on in terms of her colleagues and her Facebook groups and what she’s talking about with other people in the industry, it’s something that might be worth building into a product and into a company.

We said the words out loud, and then we were like, well, wait a sec, we could really do this. That’s when it started to become a reality. And it just like, like Tory said, the stars aligned in terms of where we all were in our careers and our lives and our families that it made sense to try something and take this leap of faith together.

With Tory’s incredible industry knowledge and connections, we were able to put some faith into making a concerted effort as a group to see where that could go. It’s been astounding and challenging in so many ways, but also really exhilarating for us to wear a lot of hats and try things in a totally different and new way and format working together.

It’s a new [00:12:00] experience for all of us working with family and friends, but I think we’ve got such complementary skills and that yin yang of art and science coming together in an interesting way to build a tool that’s analytically and mathematically sound and accurate based on the data that we’re extracting from EHR platforms.

But how do you do that in a way that translates to people who aren’t necessarily analytical or aren’t mathematical in nature and want to be able to understand and digest this data, but oftentimes don’t consider themselves numbers people and want information that they can find and glean insight from quickly, but then put that into action in a meaningful way in their practice, instead of leaning into these spreadsheets upon spreadsheets around spreadsheets to try to interpret that on a regular basis.

So, part of our mission was bringing together that art and science to build something that feels accessible to people regardless of where your skill sets lie in terms of interpreting data.

[00:13:00] Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Self-confession. I think probably like a lot of folks spent, I don’t know, I had one of those business retreats, work retreats, went away for like a week to work on my business. I swear I spent three solid days trying to build a dashboard. I’m pretty tech-savvy. I was going into it, I thought pretty prepared, and I could not pull this off. It was hard. It was clunky and it never ended up working super well.

I’m just validating this whole demand, I suppose. I think a lot of people have maybe had that experience and this solves a pretty important problem or several problems for a lot of us as practice owners.

Tory: Sure. And I think we wanted the clinicians to be able to see their data in a way that’s accessible for them as well. And it just doesn’t translate to send them numbers from a spreadsheet. It doesn’t feel real, and it has taken the emotion out of it. The back and [00:14:00] forth where clinicians can say, well, that piece of data is because somebody was on vacation or my retention is low because of XYZ.

I think being able to see their numbers week by week in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing and makes sense to them is super useful in terms of being empowering and also motivating to make changes. A lot of times it’s, they don’t know what they don’t know. And so if they don’t have access to their own information, how can they make improvements?

Dr. Sharp: Right. It makes me think of all that research around spending money and eating and calorie intake. People tend to wildly misestimate both of those things. We found that that’s the same with our practice. People think they have a good idea of how many hours or how many cancellations or how many clients are returning and it’s [00:15:00] not always accurate. And so, being able to measure that is pretty important.

Madeline: Yeah, we’ve recently hit on that metaphor a little bit with your wearable health device or your Fitbit. It’s still a new technology where you think you’re exercising daily or you’re getting your steps in, but suddenly when you have that information readily available, the unlock can be huge and not in a daunting way, but actually in an empowering way where you know a little bit more about what your behavior is on a daily basis to make healthy lifestyle decisions with your wearable.

It’s the same thing with PracticeVital where just having access and visibility into something that’s running automatically for you, you don’t have to do that heavy lift each time, but since it’s humming in the background, you can check in and feel a little bit more confident, a little bit more empowered in the decisions you’re making and just know that you’re comfortable because you have that information readily available. So I think there’s some parallels there.

[00:16:00] Dr. Sharp: Sure. I know we’re going to get into the real specifics of the software here pretty quickly, but people like to hear about struggle, right? So I’m going to ask one more personal-ish question. I’m curious, in this whole startup phase, over the last year or so, what one, or two of the most challenging moments have been as y’all are bringing this to market and trying to get it out to as many people as possible.

Madeline: I’ll take a crack at that. I alluded to it earlier. It’s that art and science coming together. And so much of that is trying to bridge the world of analytical thinking, software, and technical creation process with the world that Tory and I come from, which is much more of that artistic, emotionally based experience. How do you as a group of 4 communicate and work together and solve [00:17:00] problems effectively bridging those worlds?

So I think it’s been both the opportunity, but also the challenge is finding ways to break ground with those two worlds coming together and finding solutions as a team.

Dr. Sharp: That’s fair. Tory, you’ll add anything to that or you’re like, Nope, that’s exactly right. 

Tory: Oh, yeah. I’m just laughing because that’s the biggest thing that comes up for us. To your point earlier about working with family or your question about it, I think it’s reassuring and comforting to work with family because you know that even if you run into these challenges you are stuck with each other and that you’re going to keep being family and you’re still going to respect each other at the end of the day and be close.

And so we’ve had to learn how to work around each other’s work styles and personalities. The way that Tom works is so different from the way I work and we both acknowledge that. We have all these systems. I have no idea what it took to begin a technology [00:18:00] startup. It is so much more work and so much more complicated than I could have ever imagined. We’ve got all kinds of software to even manage our projects in our pipeline of what work we’re doing and then putting in feature requests and trying to validate whether that makes sense.

And the way that we go about that is very different. I want to have a discussion because I’m a relational person. And so I’m like, let’s just jump on and have a chat about what we should build next. For Tom and Brendan, it’s very much, no, we need to do it based on what it’s becoming based on people’s feedback and we need to have a very systematic process around that. I think we balance each other well.

Dr. Sharp: Right. I don’t know about y’all. We have a joke. My wife is also a therapist. And so, we’re friends with a lot of [00:19:00] therapists and psychologists here in the area, but we have this joke, there is that stereotypical partnership of therapist and engineer. And that seems super common in our friend group and among other mental health folks that I know. This is just a thing that you work through. I feel like this is classic, I don’t know if you’d call it disagreement or maybe just friction that we work through in this kind of thing.

Tory: Yeah. Well, I’m a couple’s therapist, and I think in some ways working with my husband, some people are like, I could never do that, but I think it’s almost brought us closer in certain ways because we have so much content all the time. I know what he’s doing day to day and he knows what I’m doing versus the past, we’d get to dinner, and it would be like, how’d you spend your day? And it was too cumbersome to try and fill each other in. It’s nice. We’re never not working now. I think that’s the problem is you bring your laptop to dinner and then after dinner, our kids go to bed and [00:20:00] we’re back at it trying to solve the next issue, but it’s been fun too.

Dr. Sharp: I appreciate you diving into some of that. Like I said, it’s very relatable. Our family business is also a software business. And so all these things, I’m just nodding and agreeing.

Tory: One more thing I’ll add as a challenge is every practice does things differently, you’d imagine that and there are some things we all want to know about cancellation data, but the way we all code cancellations is very different. We all want retention data, but some practices want to track 7 sessions as retained and some want to practice want to track more.

And so, every day we have requests for minor changes, and we want to make it work for every practice. So then we’ll tweak one thing, but then it might change something for someone else.

And so we’re trying to always figure out what’s in the best interest of the most people, and how can we also be the leaders in establishing [00:21:00] the industry norms and the standards, and then set criteria that work for the practices and streamline it for the most number of people. So that’s a big challenge for us.

Dr. Sharp: I believe it. I don’t know if you’ve run into this, but we have had to cross that bridge, we’re wrestling with this decision of how much do we not “dictate” what people should do, but set the tone or provide guidance versus following our customers leads, right? And we found that a lot of folks want more guidance than we would have expected. There’s a lot of ambiguity about how to do a lot of things in our field.

Tory: Totally. And that’s a big part of our mission too. Everybody says they want the data, but then it’s how do I use the data?

And that’s the number one question. I do a coaching call with everyone after we on board as I did with you all. [00:22:00] And the first question almost everybody asks is, okay, now we have the data. This is awesome. What do I do with it? It’s interesting because you think everyone knows, but I think everyone also wants to know what is everyone else doing with it.

We’ve come across so many additional ways to use the data now from our customers. And so I think that’s been fun too, is now we can educate more people and give more of that information based on what our customers have been telling us.

Dr. Sharp: Right. That’s like by doing the work and talking with all these folks, it’s furthering your business. That’s fantastic.

We’ve dipped into the functionality of PracticeVital here a few times now, but let me zoom out real quick. I’ve talked in the intro about what y’all do and what this software does, but I would love to just hear from y’all, how would you describe this to someone who may be interested?

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They make billing, scheduling, note-taking, and telehealth, all incredibly easy. They also offer custom forms that you can send through the portal. For all the prescribers out there, TherapyNotes is proudly offering e prescribe as well. And maybe the most important thing for me is that they have live telephone support seven days a week so you can talk to a real person in a timely manner.

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Let’s take a break to hear from our featured partner.

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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Madeline: Sure. We’re proud to say we believe it’s the first ever fully automated [00:25:00] dashboard experience that’s pulling in data from your EHR and displaying and articulating the key performance indicators or metrics that are most valuable for your practice to make everyday decisions. So if you will, you’ll see within the platform an overview slide for each of your clinicians and those key performance indicators that help to make informed decisions about their performance and whether or not you need to hire, take on more clinicians, perhaps make different compensation decisions and so forth.

And we feel like first and foremost, this tool can be a coaching companion for how you manage your team and clinicians in terms of sitting down with them on a regular basis, or as Tory said, share those via email even to help people feel clarity, transparency and accountability to what you as a full practice are orienting around in terms of goals.

[00:26:00] Just to get a bit more specific, some of the key metrics that we’re tracking are how many active clients do you have? What is the average weekly session that you’re currently operating against and how does that compare to your goal for what you’re setting forth within your expectations for the practice? What is your retention rate and your churn rate? Churn is something we’re defining as, how often are your intakes not making it past that fourth session. Are you churning through intakes a little bit more frequently? And then cancel rate, as Tory also mentioned, that’s another core one that’s built into the tool to understand at what rate are we seeing cancellations come through and specifically those that are non-billable that you might be losing revenue against.

We’ve tried to offer a nice breadth, but also depth within the tool. So you can see at first blush what the overall metrics look like but then dive into a bit more of a nuanced take if you want to dissect that by a certain time frame or [00:27:00] a certain interval or see all of your clinicians lined up side by side comparatively to one another over the course of time, you can kind of play around with a few of our report features to see more of that big picture view.

Dr. Sharp: This is great. The numbers that y’all are pulling, at least in my experience, are numbers that might exist somewhere in the EHR, but it’s very hard to access and kind of clunky or like you’re exporting spreadsheets and then running some kind of macro to it. It’s hard to find a lot of this data. The automated part is so attractive too. We just get it easily. And it looks great.

Tory: Yeah. I was talking to a practice owner this morning for a demo and she was saying that they spend 10 hours a month tracking retention and trying to figure it out, and then they get stuck with, well, if it’s 7 or 8 sessions, then do we stop counting two months before [00:28:00] and that’s what we run into too is building the software. But now that we’ve got it, we do that automatically for you. So there’s no more trying to calculate those numbers.

Dr. Sharp: Right.

Tory: And all of the EHRs fall short in terms of their reporting, and now I get why because there is so much customization and our tool customizes a lot of the data for each practice including tracking units now for testing, which is largely because of you Dr. Jeremy. Being able to do that is important.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. I know people are listening and they’re probably thinking, well, my clinicians don’t deal with churn rate necessarily if you’re just doing testing and the practice. I get that. I think that the folks out there, certainly anyone who’s running a practice with therapists, it’s a no [00:29:00] brainer. All the metrics that you just mentioned, are the things that we’re concerned with. It’s like, how often are people counseling, and are clinicians reaching their weekly hours? And are we churning through intakes too fast? All those things.

These are all very important therapist metrics, but like you alluded, we are using this for testing too, and it’s been super helpful in that regard. I would love to talk a little bit about the testing side of things and how y’all are integrating some of that into the software. And if you even guess that that would be a thing that you would have to integrate into the software when you started, maybe we start there. Did you ever think you would be working with testing practices?

Tory: I don’t even think it dawned on us to start because I don’t do testing. It’s not part of my world. I also didn’t know that so many big practices have testing as a component. The people I [00:30:00] refer to, at least around me who do testing are solo practitioners. For whatever reason, it wasn’t in my wheelhouse and it came about, I think you weren’t the first practice that had it. There’s a practice in Texas that was very early on with us who did bring that up and we thought, Oh gosh, what is this going to entail? This is a fun challenge.

So we’re still trying to refine it and figure out how to continue to add things that will be useful specifically for testing folks, but now we have a lot of practices who are also doing testing, and a lot of them have therapists and testing psychologists on their teams. But I think counting the units has been helpful. Like we said, there’s no other software that’s telling you in a simple way, this is how many units you’ve had and displaying that for you. So, just in the time saving and the efficiency, that alone, I think is a big useful part of it.

[00:31:00] Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I just want to double-click on that. That’s a problem that we’ve had since we started is getting some accurate count of how many units people are billing on their evaluations. We have an idea of what they’re supposed to be billing, what the average should be, and so forth, but it was always really tough. Like I said, it’s this cumbersome spreadsheet, exporting, counting manually kind of thing. And now it just appears in our PracticeVital dashboard, which is fantastic.

Tory: Yeah. I will say, the only other place I know that compiled data for you in terms of session counts or anything is Green Oak. I know that they don’t scale their sessions in terms of what you give credit to your clinicians for even outside of testing. And so, we’ve scaled the data. Each CPT code is whatever number weighted that you want to give it. [00:32:00] So if your intake is, if your 90791s you give someone 1.2 hours of credit or your 90832 is 0. 5 typically, I think that’s been useful to people to have that accurate number about their weekly sessions without having to count all that up themselves.

Dr. Sharp: Right. We were celebrating when we found out that y’all could do it because we work with half-hour units. In every single evaluation we do, there’s a significant portion that is half-hour units. And when y’all came back, we’re like, oh, yeah, we can do that. This is incredible to finally get an accurate picture of all the units that we’re working with.

Tory: Yeah. Being a practice owner is so hard and I think that that’s a big part of our whole mission here is to make things easier on practice owners. I think it’s a really [00:33:00] hard time to be a practice owner, and we’re competing against all kinds of other, I mean, the better helps out there, all the people going into solo practice. I believe in the group practice model and the ability. I think we’re better and stronger clinicians if we’re part of a team and part of a group, and I want to see us survive, but I think a lot of people are going off into solo practice or a lot of practices are closing their doors at this point because they have not been able to make it work with the amount of workload that’s involved in being a practice owner.

So, a big part of our mission here is to make things easier, make it more efficient, make it easier to digest the data, and take that part of it off of your plate so you know how you’re doing.

Dr. Sharp: That’s well said. I’m sure y’all have run into this, but talk about this a lot, just the skill set for being a leader or a [00:34:00] practice owner is way different than being a psychologist or clinician, and we get stuck a lot, at least, I have a lot of people we talked to, and being nice, and assuming people are doing what they’re supposed to do. The data makes it clear whether folks are reaching their goals or not, or if we even have goals. I don’t know. You tell me if that’s a part of this process for y’all? As you’re onboarding people, are you finding that some practice owners don’t even really have their minds wrapped around the concept of goals each week or what should their clinicians be doing? What am I even supposed to be measuring here? That kind of thing?

Tory: 100%. To go back to myself, I was trying to be the flexible practice owner for a long time. It’s pretty ironic because now I’m checking the productivity of clinicians all over the country, and yet I had no productivity [00:35:00] standard within my own practice until about a year ago. I just thought everyone would get their jobs done and we’ll make it work, but I didn’t know if we were making ends meet at that point. I was trying to be flexible and what I found out is people want accountability. People want to know how they’re doing. 

I had an exit interview with one clinician, and I was shocked because this was the first I was hearing of it. She gave me the feedback that she wanted more feedback throughout her whole time working with me. She’s like, I wanted to know if I was doing well, if I was hitting expectations, if you thought I was doing well.

And honestly, I had a feeling that she was a good clinician, but I really didn’t know. I think that’s what makes our job so tricky is we’re behind closed doors, you have a sense but you’re not in the sessions with people and you don’t really know how things are. So, I think that we need this data in order to know.

[00:36:00] So I think that being the flexible practice owner who doesn’t have the goals in mind or the standards is not always what people need and what is going to make the practice thrive in general.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Do you find that you’re working with many solo practitioners or is it primarily groups?

Madeline: Just groups at this time. Given the nature of that comparative component within the tool, we don’t yet have the same level of value for a solo practice.

Dr. Sharp: I just wondered about that. You mentioned the coaching and accountability components earlier and how that’s built into the process. Can you speak to maybe themes is the right word, themes that are coming up in these calls with folks, areas that a lot of practice owners seem to [00:37:00] struggle or need the most support. Anything in that ballpark, like for folks who are listening and they’re thinking, Oh, gosh, accountability sounds great. I’d love to be tracking more hours. I don’t know how or where to start. Anything in that ballpark, I think might be helpful.

Tory: I think that there’s a number of key themes that we’re seeing. I think a lot of it depends on the practice size. We’re finding that really large practices, we have some practices that are 60 and above clinicians, they have different goals in mind and different needs for this data than the practice of 5. And we do have practices of 5 and several of 10-20 and 20-30.

So, I think a lot of it depends, but one thing we’ve encouraged people to do is to ask their clinicians to set goals based on the data that they’re seeing. So if they’re having a conversation with their clinicians, share the data and then have them set a [00:38:00] goal of their own based on the data. And then check in 3 months later or 1 month later and see how they’re moving or progressing toward that goal.

I think that’s empowering for the clinician too. And it’s also a lot more about how we want to manage as clinicians, I think asking for feedback and not just telling people, this is your next goal. I think that’s one way that a lot of people are starting to use it.

Madeline: I think there’s also, to build on that, a degree of accountability. We’re empowering the clinicians to take in their own case caseloads, right? When you start to look at how many active clients you have on a 60-day basis, what their rebooking rate looks like, and what their cancel rate looks like, when you see those numbers side by side, you get to tell a really interesting story together on, where are we may be struggling or where do we need to lean in and have specific strategic conversations for where [00:39:00] you can reengage your clients or have a bit more thorough communication track back and forth to get them coming in or following through on certain things.

So I think that accountability, but also empowering them to make really specific communication decisions with their roster of clients can be really helpful as well.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I love that. And just to bring it back to the to the testing realm as well, simply having some sense of the work that we are doing, I think is so important, and the investment, the time that we’re spending, and all the hours that we’re putting in that may not get accounted for, I think, can be telling for us as well. So it’s just that meta-process I think of being aware of what we’re doing and knowing that we have to track it, right?

I work with a lot of testing practice owners who are like, I don’t know how many [00:40:00] evals I did last month or last year. I don’t know what my target is. I don’t know why I should be thinking about this. Anyway, I love data.

Tory: Yeah. And I think we’re all facing so many similar challenges to your earlier question like hiring the right people and how do I know that I am hiring the right people for my practice. Someone can interview well and they’re not somebody who can retain clients. How do I compensate my clinicians? How do I make a plan around that? What kinds of information do I use in a performance improvement plan? All of those things can be… We can solve those things using this data.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I did want to go back to one thing you said that made me think, you mentioned that it can help guide hiring decisions or knowing when to hire. Is that right? And if so, I’m curious how you are predicting that from the data that you [00:41:00] have.

Madeline: Yeah, I think when you start to, again, tell that story of how many clinicians are meeting or exceeding their weekly session goals, you start to see that utilization number come to life and how much you’re either overbooking and potentially burning out certain clinicians that are far exceeding what they’re setting out to do, or maybe you’re taking on more than you even realized as opposed to where, on the other side of the spectrum, there’s oftentimes clinicians not taking on as many.

I think that starts to help you make a more informed decision of, are we at full capacity as a group. Can we continue to take on more clients in the team that we have currently, or are we ready to look at the finances and see if we can afford to bring on another clinician because our team is strapped in full and we need to protect that sense of burnout and preserve people’s times in a way that we’re not taking advantage of and making sure that we’re hiring at a time when we feel [00:42:00] like it’s not just right for the team on an emotional level and burnout level, but also financially, can we make that choice when we start to compare it against our bigger picture?

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Have you run into any…

Tory: Another thing…

Dr. Sharp: Sorry, go ahead, Tory.

Tory: I was just going to say, if your newest clinician is at 70% of capacity or their utilization is 70% of their capacity, then that’s when we would recommend that you take on the next hire. It’s a kind of benchmark.

Dr. Sharp: That’s great. I love benchmarks.

I wanted to pivot actually to data visualization because this is interesting to me and I think is super interesting to our audience because as testing folks, we are often trying to find ways to visualize data in a legible, understandable, yet beautiful way. And y’all seem to have captured that with the [00:43:00] session data that we’ve been talking about.

I’m just curious. Maybe this is for you, Madeline, like that process you went through to figure out how we visualize this data. What are the principles that we’re utilizing here? We can go as granular as you want as far as colors, shapes or font. I’m so curious about the data visualization process and how you settled on the ultimate design.

Madeline: Oh, I love that question. That’s great. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a practice owner. I come from a world of design and marketing, but one of my truest mantras in my career has been the power of making sense of a mess, and that can apply to any industry in any field.

I think certain fundamental design principles allow you to make sense of the mess, whether that’s in software, whether that’s in any industry really, and I think simple color palettes and [00:44:00] intuitive color palettes help with that. Same with a font that’s visually interesting and appealing and legible and readable. Pairing those together with numbers in a way that tells stories.

I think that’s part of what I’ve tried to bring in partnership with Tom, our engineer, is the way you tell that story with numbers that feel accessible, approachable, digestible in a way that’s not going to overwhelm or turn off, but also give you that invitation to lean in and learn more.

In our tool, we use red, yellow, and green quite a bit as that very fundamental, intuitive, instant barometer for meeting, exceeding, or falling short of a certain threshold or benchmark and that’s the starting point. So we hope that you can go into our tool and at first blush, get a quick sense of like, oh, wow, this person’s thriving.

They’ve got a lot of green going on in their quick card here. This person maybe let me, let me dissect this a bit. They’ve got some red and [00:45:00] yellow. Okay. I got to lean in there. That should be the starting point is as simple as that.

And then visually, I think you know, there’s certain primary colors and shapes that I think mean certain things to people always. So using the dial or the circle as a means of showing progress towards a whole is again something that’s pretty universally understood and can be that bridge to understanding numbers in a way that maybe isn’t always intuitive for some people.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. One of the things that jumps out, is the red, yellow, and green is super intuitive, right? I’ve seen it done in ways that where it’s, I don’t know if it’s too bright or what, but it’s a little muted in your software, more of a, I don’t know if I’m saying the wrong thing, but like earth tone almost, but it’s muted and that goes a long way toward lessening the harshness, I suppose.

Madeline: Totally. We played around with [00:46:00] some different color palettes and very quickly red, yellow, and green could be too intimidating or aggressive, right? How do you humanize it a bit or bring it a little bit of an organic feel when numbers can be so inorganic? I think part of our choices was to add a little bit of that approachability with colors that aren’t too electric or polarizing if you will. I think like that. I’m a visual person and it can be very subtle, but I think some of those choices were very intentional.

Dr. Sharp: Yes. Well, and you used the word intimidating that triggered the previous question that I forgot which is how folks have responded. Have you run into any practice owners or I guess clinicians communicating through their practice owners that they are intimidated by this whole measurement data setup where it’s almost like somebody is now watching over them? Have you run into any of that?

[00:47:00] Madeline: It’s been really interesting to hear. One specific feature that we added after we originally launched the current version of this product, one specific feature was the download feature; being able to download the cards of each clinician to then more easily share them out to your to your team.

What was so interesting was so many customers were eager for that feature. And then there was always that 2nd comment that was like, Ooh, but am I going to upset people or is this going to be culturally hard for us to adapt to? And I think very quickly, we were able to help and work through that with customers to show how data can be a great neutralizer in otherwise very emotionally charged conversations from a coaching standpoint, whereby grounding a conversation in this data, you can bring down the assumptions or the hunches or the things that you’re just operating on [00:48:00] gut instinct, right?

Instead say, here’s the reality. Let’s start here and then have a really meaningful conversation around it. And I think that’s been something that some customers have found a little bit worrisome, but we’re very quick to see the value in the long term for bringing this in culturally to their organization and doing it in a way that actually can benefit people’s understanding and transparency rather than feeling intimidating.

Dr. Sharp: I love that.

Tory: I’ll piggyback off that a little bit. I think every single practice owner that I’ve met with has mentioned the fear of initially sharing this with their team. How is this going to come across? Is it going to feel punitive? I want to retain my employees. I want them to feel good about their jobs.

And so again, I think a lot of it’s about coaching clinicians to not be so afraid of data and to let them know that this is a win, win, win for the practice overall. It’s a win for the practice manager who can more clearly and easily pull information. [00:49:00] It’s a win for the clinician because they can be empowered to make changes.

They can also track their own data against their own goals. They can know how they’re doing as a therapist and whether their clients are meeting the outcomes that they want them to meet. If they’re not retaining clients, then their clients aren’t succeeding. I think any clinician would probably say, I want that. I want my clients to succeed. So we need data to know whether that’s happening.

And then, of course, it’s a win for the practice owner to be able to get a holistic picture of what’s happening. And the client wins too, because then we’re tracking whether or not they’re meeting what they came into treatment for.

Dr. Sharp: Right. I’m on board with everything you’re saying. It’s that makes me think of that phrase, what gets measured gets managed, right? And if we’re not measuring, then what are we really doing? I don’t know. As practice owners, what are we working [00:50:00] toward? What are our clinicians working toward? Those guidelines and guardrails and concrete goals just help everyone, I think.

Tory: Right. It can just be a framework. So you have a data point to start with in your supervision. Otherwise, in the past, I would just show up and say, hey, do you have anything you want to work on today? And they’d maybe bring a case that we talk about. Sometimes not even. But this way we can say like, hey, it looks like the cancellations have gotten higher. Do you have a sense of what’s going on? And then let’s talk through that.

If your churn rate is high, the first thing I want to look at is whether or not we’re matching the right clients with you. And maybe the clients that we’ve been giving you are out of your skill set or not your area of expertise or the clients that you even enjoy working with as much. And so they’re not sticking around. Let’s make changes based on that information. And that’s so useful for clinicians too in preventing their burnout, making them feel more satisfied in their work. We [00:51:00] don’t feel good if we’re losing clients all the time. 

Dr. Sharp: Of course not. I love what y’all said a little bit earlier about using it to gauge clinician burnout and making sure because we have some high performers too who are consistently over their hours. It just gives a data point to check in and say like, Hey, you’ve been doing a lot of hours. Are you doing okay? And do we need to dial this back? Again, just more of a window into how people are doing, which I love. 

Tory: Exactly. You can offer support and you can also offer accolades. I think we don’t get a lot of that like kudos in our field saying like, hey, your retention rate’s going up. What kind of changes have you been making? Are you aware of anything you’re doing differently with your clients? It’s really great. Being able to acknowledge those things that people are doing well.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. Well, I know we’ve talked about many things, lots of different aspects of this whole business, but I wonder if [00:52:00] you have some idea, anything you can share around what’s next, what you’re shooting for, targets, future?

Madeline: Sure. I’ll speak to it maybe more in the immediate sense. We’re currently going through a round of focus groups, talking to various customers about their experience with the product, and trying to learn as much as we can about pain points, problems, opportunity areas, and things people love and want to see more of.

We’re working on the next iteration of the product, growing it a bit, offering a bit more depth and breadth in terms of core metrics and how you can delve into those as well as areas that can be more easily and readily adjusted on your end to change the session goals and start dates and whatnot on your own. So, we’re tinkering with the product in a way that we think is going to be informed by our customer feedback and propelled to that next level of value for customers.

[00:53:00] I won’t speak more specifically because we’re still collecting information, but we hope to continue to build ourselves out as that practice owners’ companion, as their software companion that can serve many needs, but be their source of confidence and comfort in understanding the health of their practice and the health of their clinicians’ performance on a regular basis.

So that’s at the core of what we’re doing, and we think we have a long road map to continue to do that and blow that out further and further. And we’re continuing to learn about the industry needs as we go. It’s a broad spectrum of players involved in this landscape right now.

Obviously, technology is influencing this industry as it is influencing our whole society right now in major ways. And I think to be a small part of that, hopefully for the better for practice owners, specifically group practice owners is really [00:54:00] special for us to be a part of right now.

Dr. Sharp: Well said. I’m excited to see where y’all go. If this is where we’re at less than a year in, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. It’s really exciting to think about where it might end up. So thank you all for coming on. This is fantastic. Thanks for talking about your family, your business, and what you’ve learned from practices. I really appreciate it.

Tory: Thank you so much for having us. This was a lot of fun. Thanks.

Madeline: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you, Dr. Jeremy.

Dr. Sharp: That’s a good note to end on. Do you hear that everybody? Dr. Jeremy.

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 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 [00:55:00] 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 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.

[00:56:00] The information contained 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 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 an expertise that fits your needs.

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