Leveraging Unique Abilities — Full Transcript

How the skill set of startup founders can make or break a business.

Key takeaways from this episode of StartUp Health NOW can be found here.

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Steve Krein: [0:05] Hello. Welcome to another episode of StartUp Health NOW, the weekly show celebrating the healthcare transformers and change makers reimagining healthcare. My name is Steven Krein.

[0:12] On today’s episode, we’re going to sit down with Reed Mollins, the Co‑Founder of doctor.com, that is reimagining how doctors use the Internet to grow their practice. This is going to be a great episode.

[0:22] [intro music]

Steve: [1:01] Welcome back to StartUp Health Now, we’re sitting down with Reed Mollins, the Co‑Founder of doctor.com. Welcome to the show Reed.

Reed Mollins: [1:06] Thanks. Good to be here.

Steve: [1:07] It’s great to have you here. It’s been great to have spent the last several years working with you, Gary and Andrei and building doctor.com. For the listeners let’s learn a little bit about doctor.com and how it got started, and really what drove you guys to focus on this area of healthcare.

Reed: [1:23] Sure. Doctor.com’s goal is really to give healthcare providers the means to control their reputation and presence online. When you go to medical school, it turns out that you don’t learn anything about Internet marketing.

[1:38] As Internet marketers and technologists, we saw an opportunity to enter the healthcare space and use all of our experiences to help the healthcare providers deal with some of these challenges that they never really faced before.

[1:51] In this space the change is really fast. You really need a dedicated team thinking about what the healthcare provider needs in terms of representing their accurate data everywhere, in terms of dealing with reviews which we consider like the digital word of mouth, it’s kind of changing the space, and really give them control over some of these aspects that they really never learned much about.

Steve: [2:13] We’re going to dig in a little bit more to that. I want to kind of go back a little bit on how doctor.com got started by you guys, because besides the name, what brought you guys together and a little bit of related to the development of it.

Reed: [2:25] Andrei and I have been friends since childhood. He’s been more from the technology background and I have been more inside the sales and business management side.

[2:34] We got back together in our twenties to form Practice Brain, everything of an EMR for specific physical therapy. Learning about the physical therapy space, we started by building out their website, handling their online appointment request and then started dealing with their data around the web and we just kind of went down the chain from there, handling the way the actual clinical workflow started to operate.

[3:03] And in that scene, sort of space of time we met Gary Mllin, who is the owner of the domain, and runs World Media Group and we saw an opportunity to have this kind of 1 + 1 = 3 experience to take the doctor directory from doctor.com and some of the deeper functionalities we’ve developed at Practice Brain. And really come up with one unified solution for the health care provider.

Steve: [3:24] How much has the idea changed from the three of you coming together, to start this to actually today?

Reed: [3:33] It certainly has changed. As we’ve realized, that there are a lot of people who are fighting those clinical challenges and there’s not a lot of people successfully fighting the reputation management challenges. We focused more and more on those as our kind of specific differentiator.

Steve: [3:50] OK let’s talk about doctor.com. How does it work? How do you, whether you are a physician or a consumer, or maybe even a hospital, how would they interact with doctor.com.

Reed: [4:01] Sure. We’re kind of interesting, because we have a lot of stakeholders that come at us from a lot of different angles. For the health care provider, what we end up doing with them, is taking their accurate information, and syndicating it all across the web, and taking the accurate information.

[4:18] [laughs]

[4:18] [crosstalk]

Steve: [4:18] You say accurate information. Let’s talk about that. Dig in there. Dig in there a little bit.

Reed: [4:22] I will back up another quick second. One more things that we realized is that doctors have a tendency to change their practices, move, change their phone number, go from one practice to another, decide to work at the hospital then leave the hospital. Any health care provider listening to this knows that they have probably, they’ve had this experience.

[4:38] And what this leaves behind is this dirty trail of data. You know there’s hundreds of websites that are pulling from the NPI database, that are pulling from the business listings, and they have the tendency to do those one‑time dumps, and so any healthcare provider will have five, six, seven addresses as you look across the various websites, one of which.

[4:58] [crosstalk]

Steve: [4:59] When you do a Google search there and so you take their accurate data, once you’ve figured out which one is accurate.

Reed: [5:06] Directly from them.

Steve: [5:07] Directly from them, and then you’re syndicating it out, so that everybody either replaces it or at least you call out who’s got the accurate data.

[5:13] [crosstalk]

Reed: [5:14] Single point of entry. We offer the health care provider one single place instead of spending days and weeks claiming all these, we give them one single spot.

Steve: [5:21] What sites does these get syndicated out to?

Reed: [5:24] Right now we are syndicating out to Vitals, Health Line, Your Doctor, Ask; if you’re a chiropractor, Chiropractor.com; if you’re a dentist at DentalPlans.com, we have inked deals with Wellness, Doc Spot, US News, and there’s a few others I…

[5:40] [crosstalk]

Steve: [5:41] You’re pretty close to a pretty large footprint here. Do you talk about the numbers of how many…?

[5:46] [crosstalk]

Reed: [5:46] Sure. On any given month, there’s between 50 and 70 million patients, who go across aspects of our network that we control.

Steve: [5:55] OK. That’s related to their basic contact information data. It goes a little bit deeper. What else? Reviews and there’s other aspects.

Reed: [6:03] Yeah. It’s not just that net consistency, name, address, phone number stuff. There’s also some of the optimization stuff, nicely written bios, photos, where you went to school, what insurances you accept currently. The insurance one is a killer, because people will find that they will change the insurances they accept rapidly. That is a really important search of vector for patients.

[6:27] We take that information, instead of making them do that in a million different places. They just work with their account manager. Tell them once, and we handle all the rest. It’s the photos. It’s the rich content, those bios and some of those aspects. The reviews also go out candidly to a more limited subset.

[6:44] There’re certain players in this network for whom consumer reviews are still too new and scary, specifically like a US News is very clinical. They, right now, are not syndicating the consumer reviews they’re after. We’re working towards that, as the marketplace started to realize that the consumer review is legitimate. That’s an important vector.

Steve: [7:08] Are you selling these services to doctors? Can they buy them a la carte, or is it one kind of package that you’re offering them?

Reed: [7:18] We have a few packages. We found that doctors fall into these two camps. They are either interested in reputation management and correcting their information, getting more reviews, getting those reviews out there, or they’re more interested in the LeadJen and getting more patients, bringing more people in the door directly. We have two packages at different prices for each of those factors.

Steve: [7:41] How do you differentiate? If I’m a physician, and I’m looking through the opportunity of working with doctor.com and having you not only syndicate my correct information, but also power my listings. What are the options look like? How are you different in what they might look at, whether dividers or other companies, even that partners with you, or they might look like competitors of yours? How do you differentiate yourself from anybody else?

[8:10] [crosstalk]

Reed: [8:11] We see ourselves as duet for UService. That is one of the core differentiators. You could conceivably go out to each member of the network, claim your profile, and maybe for a future listing, or get a chance to list some of your information there. You have to deal with each one of those entities separately.

[8:28] You have to pay each one of those entities separately. You have to do all the work. We give you an opportunity to have this one single conversation and point of contact. We deal with all of those entities on your behalf.

Steve: [8:40] Working upstream here, when I want to go even a little bit deeper than that with you, what can I do ‑‑ as a physician ‑‑ and what other kinds of services do you offer the physicians?

Reed: [8:51] The core part is this information’s indication. We put a review hub in your office.

[8:59] [crosstalk]

Steve: [9:00] Explain that one.

Reed: [9:01] Physical device called the “Review Hub,” it’s specific just to you. It sits on your front desk. As a patient finishes their appointment, they go to the front desk to finish. Office manager, front desk manager says, “How was your appointment with Dr. Krein today?” You go, “It was great.”

[9:16] They go, “That’s cool. We would really appreciate if you wrote a review.” With this physical device and office, we’re taking doctors. We’re getting two reviews a year, and that getting an average of five reviews a week.

Steve: [9:27] You’re encouraging the doctors to get the reviews online. How’s that business grown? When did you start that, about a year ago?

Reed: [9:36] Yeah, about a year ago.

Steve: [9:37] What does it look like today?

Reed: [9:38] Hundreds of devices out there, collecting thousands, tens of thousands reviews. That is the fastest growing part of our business, because that’s what patients want to see. Patients want to know when they’re going to come see you that other patients have had good experiences there. There are some amazing statistics.

[9:56] The one I saw most recently is seven out of 10 people who are given a referral are going to Google to read reviews about the doctor before they go. They’re going to go Google your name. They’re going to read all the reviews they can find, and ask before they go with a referral.

Steve: [10:13] This is actually empowering a lot of the marketing, visibility and reputation management of the physicians. Have a review of doctor.com, three years from now, what is doctor.com look like? How do you think this evolves from today to 2018?

[10:29] [crosstalk]

Reed: [10:29] That’s a great question. 2018 is pretty far. We see ourselves as the glue that holds together the many stakeholders who are ‑‑ existing ‑‑ in the healthcare space, from the doctors to the group practices, hospitals, insurance companies, other doctor directories and to the tech companies.

[10:50] We want to be the single point of entry to collect the healthcare provider’s information, and make sure that everybody at least has those basics, who works where and what they do, and enable all those various stakeholders to be better. We want to see ourselves as the way that the health care provider can control their presence in the ecosystem simply and easily. To that end, we are talking to CMS.

Steve: [11:15] The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Reed: [11:16] The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who powers the MPI project. It was effectively the government sponsored version of this project that started in 1999. Because our data is better than theirs in many cases we are trying to figure out how we can help the federal government be better at what they are trying to do around this, this sort of core basic project. We want to be the glue that sits in the background and holds together these many silos.

Steve: [11:40] Very cool. I want to shift over to a little bit more entrepreneur kind of chat.

Reed: [11:44] Sure, yeah.

Steve: [11:46] Because building this is not a one man show. You have got a team. You guys have navigated through an environment where in real time we are watching the entire industry get disrupted. We are seeing people who used to not care about the Internet and technology and all this stuff now have to care, physicians, hospitals, other stakeholders. What are some of the challenges you guys have faced that you either have overcome or are still dealing with? Because I want to draw a little color to the other side, it is called the backstage of doctor, doctor.

Reed: [12:25] We came out of a few different entrepreneurial areas in different industries. One of the things that I wasn’t prepared for in the healthcare space is the level of regulation sitting on top of everything. I am not a particularly buttoned‑up guy, but this is a very buttoned‑up kind of industry. There are these mammoth organizations that are slow to change and slow to change for good reason.

[12:51] If you were making a photo sharing app and your servers go down people don’t get to share their pictures. If you have a clinical workflow application and it goes down, there are people whose lives are at risk.

[13:02] The industry understandably has a lot of caution around it. Figuring out the best ways to navigate some of these more cautious stakeholders has been a really interesting experience. My other friends who are in other startups wear hoodies all the time. I can’t do that.

Steve: [13:16] A little jealous? [laughs]

Reed: [13:17] Yeah, I am a little jealous. This has been a learning experience, getting a chance to be inside this industry which is very staid and old school and being a part of its reinvigoration has been a really exciting. Those challenges have been very real. At the end of the day, if you look backstage at a doctor you will see the same things you see backstage in almost any entrepreneurial adventure.

[13:44] On the way over I was thinking about entrepreneurialism. There are a few little clichÈs that came to mind as being really true. You don’t go to war with the army you want, you go to war with the army you have. Marines make do, these kinds of things are really true. I am not from the military. I have a lot of respect for the military, I am not from there.

[14:03] But I am from the restaurant business. As a teenager and the early 20s I worked in a lot of kitchens and I cook all the time. When you go home to make dinner you just have what you have in the kitchen and you have to figure it out. This is the core of entrepreneurialism, what can I produce with what I have around me? What is the best way to utilize what I have got? What is the best process to use?

Steve: [14:24] The capabilities, yeah.

Reed: [14:26] We have combined all of the various teammates we have been able to bring to the table and have learned from each of them and built a business with the army that we have. That has been the most fun part, I think.

Steve: [14:39] Let’s talk about you, Gary and Andrei. How do you divide and conquer? What is your unique ability? What is Andrei’s? What is Gary’s? How do you make that mix? I am always proud of my partnership with Unity and have found that it is very unique to be able to have co‑founders and partners that really synch well by focusing on their own unique abilities to contribute to the overall team. Obviously as you build around those unique abilities and you expand that to the 5, 10, 15, 20 30 people beyond the core, if it is good core, it reverberates really well. If it is bad, it doesn’t. How do you guys mix and match there, a little bit?

Reed: [15:18] That is a good question. I am very operationally minded. It is my special ability to look at both the technological and human process around trying to get something done. We have a vision for how we want it, what we want to happen. We don’t know how it is going to work. Being able to get into the nitty‑gritty and just figure it out day‑to‑day and iterate and evolve that process that is the special skill set that I bring to the table.

[15:44] Gary is a Harvard MBA with two exits under his belt and has had tens of thousands of employees and has this big, 100,000 foot view of where we are in the industry, how we interact with other businesses and is the most skilled deal maker I have ever seen. His ability to bring compromise to the table to people that you wouldn’t even think could be compromise‑able is truly remarkable.

[16:09] Andrei is above all else, is the smartest workhorse I have ever been near. If there is a problem that needs to be tackled, he is a fighter and he just gets it done. He brings lots of technological savvy and technological understanding to that.

[16:29] It is funny watching him go from being a core technologist to learning to be the CEO. It has been an interesting experience of watching somebody who always had a great set of skills and understanding of people. Going from being a product guy to being the CEO means he always has the products at heart, even when he is cranking through the P and L. He is still thinking about the product, the product implications of the P and L, the product implications of human resources. Watching that bent on him is really fascinating.

Steve: [17:04] Taking that and turning it into what lessons you have learned. For the listeners, you are an active member of the Startup Health Community, a Healthcare Transformer. Several times you have come with lessons learned we call tales from the trenches. You come with your list of lessons learned about a particular part of your business that I think has been incredibly helpful to a lot of the other health care transformers.

[17:28] As you know, learning lessons, you’re learning all the time. Things you think you screw up are where the biggest lessons are. What are two or three of the biggest lessons you have learned over the last few years from an entrepreneur’s standpoint?

Reed: [17:45] Sure. The most important thing is that you need to have market validation. It is always the desire of every organization to build the thing that they think is cool and to spend all their time building amazing product. But it turns out that you really need to market validate first.

[18:01] We are a very intense sales organization because just talking to VCs or just talking to other technologists or just reading the news you may think that something might be interesting for someone and it might be a perfect fit. But if you can’t convince customers that they are going to pay for it, then it is not worth it.

Steve: [18:18] What did you think was going to work and didn’t?

Reed: [18:22] That is a really good question. I had always thought that appointment reminders, ways to reduce that no‑show count, were going to be the linchpin in the whole thing. It turns out that it is a much harder project to sell, when you sit down. We tried to sell everything under the sun in health care products. It turns out that the thing that they are really interested in is getting new patients to the door and their reputation online.

[18:48] It turns out their reputation online is a more important facet because it is more than just getting patients in the door and their reputation online. It turns out their reputation online is actually a more important facet because it’s more than just getting patients in the door. Reputation online is getting your return patients to come back to you.

[18:58] Reputation online is becoming a thought leader in this space. Reputation online is making the most out of the patients you already got on that referral basis. As we have honed in more and more on what is sellable, it turns out that, that is the most important facet.

Steve: [19:14] What else? What other lessons learned?

Reed: [19:17] When you work with organizations who are vendors, one of the things that I end of doing is, I’m kind of a de facto COO, sort of my operational head from a co‑founder status, is that when you’re trying to pick vendors and work with them their size in the marketplace is not respective to the skills that they are going to bring to the table.

Steve: [laughs] [19:34]

Reed: [19:35] As we’ve had some terrible experiences with some really core technologies that we thought were tested in the market and worked well. Don’t listen to the sales guys. Try to get a PM on the phone before you ever…

[19:48] [crosstalk]

Steve: [19:48] PM?

Reed: [19:49] Product manager. If you’re going to pick a new phone system for example, do not just sign a three year contract. You have to get a chance to talk to the PM’s. Who are going to do the integrations with you, because even if the sales guys knows, they are not going to tell you where the warts are.

[20:05] But the product managers will, because they kind of have to. And really do your diligence before you commit any kind of new technology. Because those core technologies are going to be really important.

[20:19] Other lessons learned, do it the hard way when it comes to your internal data management. Do not cut any corners around your technical debt early, because they will come back to bite you.

Steve: [20:35] Give me an example.

Reed: [20:38] For us, some of the technical debt came around physician data. Physician data is incredibly dirty, there’s a lot of places you can get it online. You can get from the NPI for free.

[20:50] But the data is not clean. And if you don’t take the time or find a vendor or a digital API to help you with it, you’re going to end up with a situation where there is, doctors that are dead that are in your system, doctors that retired 10 years ago that are in your system, multiple different ways.

[21:07] You’d be surprised.

Steve: [21:08] Home phone numbers?

[21:09] [laughs]

Reed: [21:09] Home phone numbers. You’d be surprised on how many different ways an office manager can type 675 Madison Avenue, 3rd floor. There’s like 20 million iterations of that. And when you get dirty data, you’ll have 20 million different data points that are really all the same place.

[21:26] When you try to do really good, clean work on top of it you’re going to have some challenges. It’s best to figure out how to get clean data right from the jump.

Steve: [21:35] Taking all those lessons, you know you’re going to continue on learning a lot more, what do you think the whole market, the market is completely being re‑imagined by entrepreneurs all over the world. We know that health care transformers coming out that would work around rethinking how we can remove the friction, how we can improve outcomes, how we can lower costs.

[21:57] What are you most excited about the next decade? And what is happening right now. What is your vision of the future for health care.

Reed: [22:06] For me, personally I am thinking about why healthcare is important. I think a lot of it is around quality transparency. There’s a lot of talk about cost transparency. And I think that would end up coming first or in tandem.

[22:19] But I think quality transparency is really important and is going to be a little more challenging to get to. But there’s a lot of amazing organizations that are working towards it. And we see ourselves kind of being a part of this wave.

[22:30] We are not talking about clinical quality, we are talking about the patient experience side. But when you can decide which doctor you can go to because there’s this all claims databases that are being formed, there’s a lot of all state, all claims oriented form that are cranking through claims data, looking for quality based on the standard methodologies.

[22:51] Like saying that this guys does this many knee operations, his knee operations end in this clinical outcomes. And then you combine with the patient’s clinical data. This doctor worked with me through this kind of experience and their office was great and the people you referred me to we’re wonderful.

[23:07] My physical therapist was great. And combining both the clinical claim side and the patient experience side, I think we’re going to end up with a situation where every stakeholder, the hospitals that are hiring doctors, the patients that are choosing doctors, the technology companies that are trying to come to some deeper understandings only have access to this one wide non [inaudible 23:51] load dataset that contains both clinical and patient side quality information.

Steve: [23:35] You’re talking about the democratization of, this has been available to the people who have connections and sit within a couple of phone calls and being able to find those doctors, but what you are talking about is making that available in the world.

Reed: [23:47] Exactly. Because right now, I think one of the things that is happening are great doctors who are having a hard time getting patients in the door. If we wake up every day with a mission, it’s to identify and find those great doctors, and make sure that the patients can find them and that it isn’t just like this old boy’s network of handful of providers in their hometown who just refer everybody to each other.

[24:08] We can give the new doctors, the better doctors, the doctors that are not great marketers, the opportunity to engage with those patients.

Steve: [24:15] Fantastic. We’re going to lighten it a little bit to finish it up. What tools do you use to manage your day, to manage your company? What’s on your iPhone? What’s on your desktop?

Reed: [24:26] I’m a hard‑core google head. I find that you can, nothing about Apple, but if you can commit to an ecosystem, you will find vast benefits. On an Android phone, we run our business through Google Apps.

[24:41] On my personal side I use Google Voice. We’re starting to work with switch codes as a phone provider. Google Calendar, Slack looks really nicely in Google Apps.

Steve: [24:52] Loving Slack?

Reed: [24:54] I love Google Slack. Slack is amazing.

[24:55] [laughs]

Reed: [24:56] We’re really proud of our disbursed team. And Slack has given us the communication backbone to really make sure that, if you ever had a conversation with somebody, you can just go search it and find it later. It’s amazing.

[25:09] I just upgraded to the new Surface Pro 3 which I’m a huge fan of. I don’t carry around a piece of paper when I go and take notes in meetings anymore. It has the best pen, so I can take written notes, instead of typing my notes in the middle of meetings which always feels weird. I don’t like that feeling. I write my notes to a…

[25:26] [crosstalk]

Steve: [25:26] Pro‑3 is an electronic pen?

Reed: [25:28] Surface Pro‑3 is a.

[25:29] [crosstalk]

Steve: [25:29] Oh Surface Pro ‑3. You’re full on non‑Apple stuff.

Reed: [25:33] Yeah and again it’s not a judgement on them particularly, it’s more about ecosystem. You know if you can commit to an ecosystem, they’ll be vast benefits that kind of come out…

Steve: [25:43] Even though it’s Microsoft.

Reed: [25:45] Even if it is a Microsoft product. And you know I’m wearing Windows.

Steve: [25:50] You got your Slack, you got you Google Apps, you got your Surface Pro‑3, what do you use to manage all your projects, how do you guys communicate the tasks and priorities and things like that?

Reed: [26:03] We have Fabricator for that sort for the development team and I’m a Google Keep guy for my personal, what my to‑do lists are.

Steve: [26:14] Very cool. Alright! We’ll this has been great. I always appreciate spending time with you. I always love your lessons learned and your tales from the trenches is always the highly rated part of our Summits every time we have you on there.

[26:27] Thanks for being an active part of the Start‑up Health Community and being a kick ass health care transformer, and Andrei, you and Gary are just doing fantastic work so, excited to both watch and help you guys grow doctor.com in the years ahead we know you’re going to help transform health care.

Reed: [26:42] Thanks a lot! Thanks a lot for having me.

Steve: [26:44] Well thanks for joining us in today’s episode on Startup Health Now. You can find today’s episode and all the episodes of Startup Health Now at StartUpHealth.com/now

[26:52] Have a great day…