Best Way to Contact Jonathan:
call – (210)739-1421
Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes, and business success, with today’s most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.
Saul Marquez: And welcome back to the podcast. Saul Marquez here and I have an outstanding guest for you today. His name is Dr. Jonathan Larson. He’s the CEO and Founder at MedSpoke. MedSpoke is a physician centric health tech company focused on solving health care credentialing. a lot of issues going on here, John’s going to get into those a lot of things that you may find surprising or just say yeah you know what I’m definitely going through that. But the cool thing is that at the end of it there’s a great solution. He uses his contemporaneous tech like block chain to get these things happening. Jon is a West Point graduate who became a board certified emergency medicine physician after service as an Army officer. So Jon thanks for your service my friend. He then went back to business school to get an MBA and learn the business of healthcare as a medical director at Aetna. So definitely some education there in the payer space. He’s very well rounded, from there Jon left to devote his entire time and resources to MedSpoke where he is right now and it’s a pleasure to have John the podcast that tell us about his stories and the great work that he’s doing at MedSpoke. So Jon welcome.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Thanks for having me Saul.
Saul Marquez: It’s a pleasure sir. So tell me what did I miss in your intro that maybe you want to share with listeners?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: It was very complete. I mean I think part of my history and the diversity of my exposure and experience in health care really led me to where I am today and it gave me the tools and experience to get here. So I did my emergency medicine training up at the University of California Davis and took my first job out of residency and there were things that I knew about the industry I knew there was a shortage of physicians. That’s only getting worse. I knew that physicians were burning out. So I fought, getting my first job would just be seamless and easy. But what I found was a marketplace that didn’t make it easy. I mean I was calling around hospitals. I knew there were open positions I just didn’t know where they were. So that was kind of my first exposure to healthcare staffing and how we hired doctors and get them in those positions. So I spent my first year as an attending physician at a hospital and then from that point kind of my the entrepreneurial side of me wanted to see what else is out there. And so I basically became a free agent and I credentialed at six different facilities and made myself available basically to the highest bidder and said if you have a position that you need to build in crunch time I’m happy to do that but this is my price. And so just by doing that freeing myself up I tripled my income. But the problem in the bottleneck to getting into that job was the problem that we’re focused on at MedSpoke it’s a credentialing piece. It’s a paper based fact based six month process just to credential to work somewhere. So after doing that six times I was like card less like we’ve got to do there’s a better way there’s gotta be a better way. But the other dynamic of it was everyone was asking for the same information in a different form whether it was the hospital, the state licensing board, or the health insurance company. They all wanted my DEA number my license number you know where I went to school diploma all the personal and professional history my my entire personal professional history. But they wanted it on their form. So we’d take about six to eight hours to fill out this 40 page credentialing packet. And there’s just no no synergies in those systems no overlap no communication. And I wasn’t getting paid to spend the six to eight hours to fill out paperwork for a hospital that needed me desperately. So that was my first exposure to healthcare staffing and really wherever there’s problems there’s opportunities. And this was just an area that I saw for the sustainability of healthcare. We’ve got to do a better job of optimizing the workforce we have now because you just can’t turn on a spigot and churn out a position that takes about seven years to get trained and ready to be an attending. So we and my passion to I’m seeing healthcare go in this direction of access you know accessible healthcare.
Saul Marquez: Yes.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: And so our mission statement is make health care accessible to all by making health care professionals accessible to all. One licensing, credentialing, enrollment event at a time.
Saul Marquez: Love it love it love the mission. So when you when you shifted from being an emergency physician you went into staffing so you basically were helping hospitals find the doctors when they were in a pinch.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Yes. And it was more just kind of my it was just me like…
Saul Marquez: So you were offering your services to them when they werent there.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Yes.
Saul Marquez: Okay. Got it.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Yes. So yeah I was. I just wanted to see what else was out there and I knew that in any position in today’s market gets multiple emails, cold text, cold calls from recruiters because especially in this market in Texas there’s such a huge supply demand mismatch the supply of physicians is extremely low the demand is through the roof and so I would keep getting these calls and in what you find with these recruiters are so desperate to fill that shift that slot because if they don’t they’re in danger of losing the contract they have at the hospital to stop their emergency department. There are some crazy stories where you know I was working in one place and I had a recruiter say “hey find somebody to work there I’ll pay that guy whatever you want” I think it ended up being like three thousand dollars just for that guy to take the shift and then they paid me a premium hourly rate and a bonus on top of that to go to this other hospital to fill this shift. And the crazy thing about it it was all the same company, all the same staffing company and recruiters within this company competing to get positions in different slots. It’s just chaos. But yeah I was doing that on my own because I do have always had an entrepreneurial edge and just interested in seeing how can I utilize my training to optimize and maximize my compensation.
Saul Marquez: Love that. Now kudos to you Jon and so talk to us about how you guys are creating results now by doing things differently.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Sure. Sure. So and you know I think any company pivots at some point and so MedSpoke’s original vision was to be the platform that directly connected medical professionals from positions to nurses to opportunities. There’s a huge healthcare staffing industry and recruiters who get paid a premium just for matching medical professionals to jobs. But there’s not a there’s not transparency to see where are the jobs and where are the medical professionals. And so we wanted to build a platform like a two sided marketplace to directly connect to the medical professional to the opportunity. So that’s where we first went and built a platform. But what we found was there’s about twenty two hundred different boutique to large health care staffing firms out there and matching. And there’s some innovative companies doing the matching. But once you match you still have this six to eight month process of credentialing to even get into that job. So to me we weren’t really solving the problem if we didn’t crack the credentialing nut so we pivoted to focus on the three things that every medical professional and health care organization has to do when they hire the first thing a physician has to do is get licensed in the state where they want to work. Then they have to get credentialed with the employer whether it’s a hospital or urgent care company or telemedicine company. And third usually this is put on the group or the employer then then that position has to get credentialed with the health insurance company what we call enrollment. So we pivoted to focus and and as I mentioned earlier each of those entities when they go through the licensing credentialing or for enrollment they’re asking for the same information in a different form. And so what we built was a single repository for all your credentials and we’re talking everything from personal history pictures and passports. You have to a social security card your DEA all the way through your work history, hospital affiliations, and certificates, licenses, everywhere you’re licensed. And so we built that repository but then we built in expiration notifications because part of the complication complexity of this is you have to keep that stuff up to date. So you have me and some physicians most physicians have you know 10 to 15 expirables that are expiring not on the same date but throughout the year. So we have expiration notifications you know continuing medical education tracking that and being able to share that is another component of it. So we have a CMU feature as well. And then another part of this there’s lots of repositories out there to store information where med spoke differentiated itself is now you can share it in a form that any hospital or state licensing board or health insurance company will accept it because we just use their forms. So we have a mapping technology where you scan the form into the system and on our end we map the data and that’s how we pull the information from the MedSpoke platform and put it on the form exactly where it belongs. But the medical professional may just have to manage your MedSpoke account. And so if they want to get credentialed or licensed somewhere if we don’t have the form in our system we scan, it map it, and then that pulls our data so they don’t have to because some of these applications you’re filling out your first name last name 10 to 12 times you’re signing 10 to 12 times and you’re putting the same information you put on an application. You know just a month ago. And so…
Saul Marquez: That’s annoying.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Oh yeah. And when I worked at those six different places I was recreating and reclaiming all that information and just putting it on there form and it was a complete waste of time. And so our vision is a physician should only have to collate this information once in their career and then update it when things expire. Take a picture of your new DEA update the expiration date. But then you never have to reclaim that data ever again.
Saul Marquez: So you guys are removing obstacles, making it eas,y and you’re like a dashboard that helps them stay current.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Yes. And you know the industry is changing and seeing a lot of telemedicine companies come up. I mean the Tele docs and American wells that they day have been around but now we have a new generation of telemedicine coming into the marketplace. When you look at companies like HIMS out of the Bay Area Hazel health serious and the blueberry pediatrics and all these very innovative companies that are focusing on a very specific problem like Hazel health school based urgent care you know kind of where schools don’t have nurses or health care in the school in very focused as well and also Hey Doctor as well where they’re treating urinary tract infections and things where you traditionally have to go to an office or God forbid go to a hospital based emergency room and wait three to four hours. So we’re giving physicians mobility and flexibility with those positions but then they have to get credentialed and feisty. So we’re seeing historically physicians would be license and you know maybe maybe two to three states. Now we’re seeing physicians getting license in 20 to 50 states. One of our clients they’re getting every one of their physicians license in all 50 states. That’s where health care is going because in telemedicine, you know if a patient calls in from Florida and I’m not licensed there I can’t treat them.
Saul Marquez: Right.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: So it’s part of their ability to scale and grow and compete against the Tele Docs and American Wells by having physicians license in all 50 states. So in order to keep all that information up to date because every and every state has their own thing you know every state has well we have the CMU requirement if you want to renew your license and in the dates when they renew our totally often and you just can’t track it all as a busy physician. So we have our platform but I also want to emphasize MedSpoke is an end to end solution. So we have the technology but we also have service on top of that where these customers and most of our sales right now are B2B, business to business, but we’re seeing more and more of the B2B2C sale when physicians you know leave that group go somewhere else where they come to us and say med spoke has all my information. Can you get me license in these four states and get me credentialed with this new employer. So it’s a very sticky solution because once you’re on if you have any credentialing, licensing, or enrollment needs, we’re first in mind for our customers minds.
Saul Marquez: Now very cool very cool. So can you share with us a time when you had a setback Jon and what you learned from it?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: God how much time do we have? Oh goodness. Oh goodness so many of them. I mean what…
Saul Marquez: The one that strikes you as most the biggest lesson that you got?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Man, to me there is no magic formula for success to build. I mean there’s certain fundamentals but you know my mantra is just we never quit. And we keep learning whether it’s from from our customers from each other from the team. So there’s yeah there’s been a lot of setbacks and I’m kind of getting a little boastful talking about it but just thinking about you know where we’ve come. And there was one setback. You know we had we had security in our first large hospital client in the relationship. Every organization you won internal champions but oftentimes you always have to watch for the Sabbath tours. And so we had a Sabbath tour that really saw MedSpoke our technology our service as replacing her. And so it was just an up where she was an upwards battle and you know I believe you kill with kindness. I mean we did to me we did everything within our power everything. And ultimately like we just got the call one day like you know we’re no longer using MedSpoke. And actually there’s it was handled like just for. She just so unprofessionally by them. There wasn’t a discussion there. There was just one day had this email that went out to all their staff like we are no longer using MedSpoke it was a dark morning. But that that was what really in the timing of it was perfect because licensing was because we were getting more traction there and it wasn’t within a week that we got basically our marquee client and we had to shift our resources because that hospital was taking a lot of time and a lot of resources out of us because we were doing everything to please actually this one Sabbath tour and we never were going to but man I mean it was a dark day and it’s like you know we lost our our biggest hospital client at the time but it’s like you curl up in the corner and and quit or you just hey this is what can we you know that morning and I just got the time to go you know what can we learn from this? What are the lessons? And then let’s move on we’re solving big problems for big health care organizations. So we we never quit and we keep learning.
Saul Marquez: So the timing was perfect. And what would you say that one thing after your team meeting was like the thing that shines as the lesson?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Well let’s see it was a constant reminder you know. You got to be nimble. You never quit. You keep learning. But I mean the thing about it was as early on as possible, you have to identify that Sabbath tour and you have to put processes in place. And I’m like an apostle of process because process takes any of those Sabbath tours out of it because if you set the expectation up front “hey this is how we’re going to do it because part of the problem was this one Sabbath tour kept moving the target.” They’re like “Well you didn’t do this. Well we never talk like that’s not in the contract that’s not part of our services.” And so what we didn’t do the due diligence up front…
Saul Marquez: Got it.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: An early document to process document the expectations. Who’s responsible for what. And so that really opened it up for a Sabbath tour to just really make us look bad because she kept putting in these moving targets that were never talked about and never part of our services. And you know there were senior leadership that just kind of deferred to this gal another disappointing part of that relationship. But to me it’s I set the expectations up front. Document process, did buy in from both organizations. So that was probably one of the biggest lessons and and yet as we’ve done you know and we’ve learned you know putting contracts in place over time and that’s that’s a recurring theme. You just got to upfront just talk through some have some hard conversations upfront and get that process in place because then there’s no there’s not that opportunity to sabotage. And it really takes the emotion out of it because it’s like “well this is the process we agreed upon if we want to change it. Let’s talk about that we can change it.” So I’m huge on process and documentation of that.
Saul Marquez: What a great great lesson shared there Jon. Appreciate that. How about the other side of the coin on this. What’s one of the proudest leadership experiences you’ve had to date?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Man. Goodness. I think you know it’s just in a small company as you’re building and getting traction. You know to me it’s just I mean I’m just seeing the dedication of people man, you’re getting me all emotional again Saul. You know whatever I talk about my team that’s what I get really emotional and to see people who are willing to really put aside you know they could be making a whole hell of a lot more money than they’re making at MedSpoke. But they’re you know every day just working together, collaborating, getting over, rising above like petty differences in personalities to work towards a common mission. So to me you know just seeing people show up and give their best every day is just inspiring to me and just seeing a lot of the lessons that I talk about and just seeing those at work and doing what we’re doing because we’re tackling a big problem in a big way and it really takes that team to be focused to work together, to never quit, keep learning.
Saul Marquez: And love that Jon. Yeah. Sounds like you’re very proud of your team. So shout out to the MedSpoke team they had a very proud leader on the line here. Definitely. What sets apart organizations is the people and the leadership. So kudos Jon for that connection you have with them. Tell us about an exciting project that you’re working on today?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Let’s see. Goodness. Well there’s man. Many of those I mean I think right now we’re one of the biggest is really building now an e-commerce piece of our site to give individual physicians the ability to come to MedSpoke as the one stop shop for all their credentialing licensing or enrollment needs. And really any process that that is included in those shows like that because some organizations will come to the position and say “hey you need to send us an NPDB self query.” And most physicians are like “What the hell is that?” And so you know.
Saul Marquez: What is that?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: So it’s a National Practitioner Data Bank query where it’s really up to you go to a specific site and it provides documentation of any like malpractice reports that have been reported to this National Practitioner Data Bank. It also has any actions against your license. And there’s a lot of those components you know whether in American in the AMA American Medical Association physician profile, notaries are a big part of this process how to get fingerprinted for certain states and all the how do I get license verification. And so we’re building out an e-commerce site where we can do all of that for the position where they just they’re able to pay for it right there and get any of those services done. So we vertically integrated like you know online notaries, virtual notaries, Texas just pass legislation over the summer that allows for that and just anything and even if they have questions where we want physicians and medical professionals to know that MedSpoke’s on their side and they’re willing to do whatever is needed to help them get licensed credentialed or enrolled because that gives them the mobility and flexibility and to me sustainability of a career that this generation of physicians wants.
Saul Marquez: Love that such a great focus and I mean anything we could do to make it easier for the already stressed physicians and even for those new physicians getting into it. So kudos to you and your team Jon. It’s exciting work.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: It is. Thank you.
Saul Marquez: Yes. So. All right Jon. Getting close to the end here. Let’s pretend you and I are building a healthcare leadership course on what it takes to be successful in medicine. It’s the one on one of Dr. Jon Larson. And so I’ve got four questions for you lightning round style followed by a book you recommend to the listeners. You ready?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Oh cool. Okay. Yeah let’s do it.
Saul Marquez: All right. What’s one way to improve health care outcomes the best way?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Collaboration.
Saul Marquez: What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Know your limits Know your limits and seek help if you get to those limits. It’s Okay to say I don’t know.
Saul Marquez: Love that. How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Outcomes for customers.
Saul Marquez: What is one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Communication.
Saul Marquez: And you know Jon I actually today this morning I decided I was going to add one to this.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Oh.
Saul Marquez: So the fifth one and I’m going to start doing these more. So folks if you’re listening, get ready because moving forward there’s going to be five lightning round questions instead of four. What is your number one success habit?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Focus. And one of those habits is every day getting out my legal pad writing down my top priorities for the day and regardless of what happens that day getting doing my best to get through it and if I don’t that’s all right. But what what was left undone is at the top of the list the next day you know cause fires come up all the time. I really think just that habit of writing things down. So when your head’s like all over the place you’d be like “All right. That’s the next task got to hit that.”
Saul Marquez: Love that. Jon what book would you recommend to the listeners as part of the syllabus?
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Wow so many anything by Malcolm Gladwell but I would say Drive by Daniel Pink incredible lessons on what truly motivates people because it’s not money.
Saul Marquez: Brilliant folks if you want to get the link to the book, a link to MedSpoke’s company which is medspoke.com an entire transcript of our conversation and the syllabus that we just created for you just go to outcomesrocket.health/medspoke and you’ll find it there. Jon this has been fun. Before I conclude I love if you could just share a closing thought and then the best place where the listeners could get in touch with you.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Sure. The final thought is for all those entrepreneurs out there, never quit. Keep learning and it’s easy to quit but you’re gonna have dark times you’re gonna have dark valleys. But just just never quit. And in terms of how you can contact me feel free to call (210)739-1421 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saul Marquez: Outstanding Jon. So if your physician or if you’re a provider who wanted to accelerate this credentialing process. Definitely reach out to Jon. If you’re an entrepreneur or anybody else in the health space just looking to collaborate. Definitely a bright mind and healthcare that you would want to connect with then. So Jon really appreciate you sharing that method of contact. And thanks for sharing your story today.
Dr. Jonathan Larson: Thanks lots Saul, appreciate your time.
Thanks for listening to the Outcomes rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration, and so much more.
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