Let’s Tackle Tech Together

Do you often feel overwhelmed by technology? You're not alone!

In this special episode, I chat with Roy and Liath of Person Centered Tech, who will share with you some really cool ways to streamline your tech.

In This Episode, You'll Discover:

  • How to make your practice practically bomb-proof
  • How to protect against unforeseen events, including being audited
  • What is The PCT Way and how it can revolutionize your practice

Helpful Resources:

The PCT Way

Click for full episode transcript

Uriah Welcome to the Productive Therapist Podcast. I'm super stoked to have Roy and Liath from Person Centered Tech joining us. Welcome to the show!

Roy Thank you. Good to be here. Yes.

Uriah I feel like we just talked, but that's because I was on your podcast! So much fun. So I have to ask you one thing; we’re going to kind of have a free-floating conversation and talk about some things that you have coming up that I'm excited to hear about that I actually don't know very much about, which is cool. A little bit of a reveal, if you will! And I want to ask you about this: you must have changed the headline on your website sometime in the last couple of months because I looked at it today, and I was like, Oh, that's good! So the headline on your website on the home page says, ‘Let's tackle tech together.' That's just so good, like it's alliteration. And it's short. It's just good marketing right there! I was curious. How does that tie into your mission at Person Centered Tech with what you do?

Roy Well, that's right. ‘Unpack the one-liner,’ right?! It is a good lesson in making those one-liners. So our primary focus is on things related to tech and mental health. So we have a lot of training about tele-therapy. We have a lot of help with tele therapy, also a lot of materials and trainings for HIPAA compliance. Right? But specifically for HIPAA security. So we're super focused on how mental health professionals can use tech, both just to get basic needs met, but also get advanced needs or greater needs met.

Uriah Sure.

Roy And very importantly, it's together because it's all very integrated. Person Centered tech is not just a bunch of courses. We do Office Hours every week, and that's kind of the centerpiece of everything.

Uriah That's one of the things I love about what you do is it's very much like done with you, I guess, is a way to say it, right?

Roy Yeah.

Uriah And that tagline - it’s just good marketing, but it's reflective of your sort of collaborative approach of helping the process be less stressful and making sure that the therapists that you support don't have to tackle this on their own or have to figure it out on their own, because that is very stressful. So I just love that.

Liath We’re glad to hear that resonates because I think that conveys part of what is a core component of what really has emerged as The PCT Way as a system for making your whole practice work and how to utilize and leverage tech as a means of doing that. But in a way that isn't anxiety-inducing, that doesn't cause compliance issues. And so much of that does occur through relational support and working collaboratively.

Uriah I love that. I'm curious the answer to this question because I don't know. And you all have been doing this for at least ten years, I think you said before, right

Roy Yes.

Uriah So where did the name Person Centered Tech come from? I like that, too. What's the origin of that? 

Roy I'm glad you like it. Well, I was trying to figure out what to name my little thing that I was doing - because I thought it was a little thing I was doing. It wasn't really a company, right? It was just me. And then I added my friend Brian, and later we found Liath, and now it's like eight people. But the idea there was just like I realized I really needed to go ahead and lean into doing some kind of consultancy to help people because I had just started practicing, and it was immediate. When you're a tech nerd, it's really hard to escape being a tech nerd. People will suck you back in.

Uriah So true!

Roy Yeah. And so I really just wanted a name that combined elements of what people think of in mental health practice and in tech. I originally was going to go for The Tech Buddha, especially cos I’ve got the big belly, I can be like, The Tech Buddha! The thing is a bunch of other people go by that handle. 

Uriah Really?

Roy Yeah. There's like, a whole bunch of people that call themselves The Tech Buddha.

Uriah Because that's not mental health focus really so much. It's more like Guru of Tech.

Roy And they're also like, IT people. And I'm like, no, that's not really what I'm doing. But either way, the name's taken. So I was like, well, what's something else? And I was like, person-centered is a thing we all know. It's very foundational.

Uriah That was my reality Association.

Roy And so Person Centered Tech. And there's a sort of like, little juxtaposition, like, feels like opposites, but isn't really.

Uriah Friendly tech. Once upon a time - in 2011 or so - I was creating little workshops for people, for therapists in my area. And I went and spoke at a couple of conferences on internet marketing for therapists, back in the day, trying to teach people about SEO and meta tags and stuff that they didn't want to know about! And I remember printing out some business cards for this conference for CAMF, which is the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist. And I thought I was really cute. And I called myself The Tech Therapist, right? Like, ‘therapy for your tech’ or something like that. That didn't go anywhere from there. But then later, a reincarnation of Uriah, The Tech Therapist is back!

Roy Right on. Rob Reinhardt has also used that.

Uriah Is that right?

Roy Yeah.

Uriah That makes sense.

Roy I like Tech Counselor, myself.

Uriah I like it. So I'm super curious to hear about The PCT Way and what you have been working on behind the scenes and anything you want to share with my audience.

Roy Yeah, I would love to. We've been working real hard behind the scenes on that! People who followed us before know that when you follow us, you start to learn a particular kind of method of doing things. And that method of doing things has been extraordinarily helpful to a lot of people. My favorite quote is from someone in the middle of 2020 - we’re talking about how, basically, March 15 of 2020, was this huge weekend. It's like, everyone needs to be doing teletherapy this weekend!

Uriah Oh, my gosh, yes!

Roy We call that at the time ‘banana season’ because it was just so bananas in our area. And of course, you're talking about how everyone was like, I suddenly have to turn everything around and do things I don't understand. And it's really frustrating. And, like, there's so much unknown. And someone a couple of months later basically told us they're like, ‘Because I've been following PCT this whole time, it was actually really easy; I just made a couple of changes to my website, and I was fine. I had everything.’ And that's The PCT Way, except more formalized. So basically, we're like, the one thing is we have all these things we do for people, but we didn't really have a way of combining them together, or showing how they put together. So we developed The PCT Way, which is a system of basically making your practice work.

Uriah I love it. And prior to March 15, 2020, you had some focus on teletherapy, but is it more of a focus now, would you say?

Roy It spiked in focus. And I think it went back to largely the same. But I think our focus on teletherapy mirrors the industry's focus on teletherapy. So it is higher, but it has kind of skewed towards just like thinking about tech and existing with tech. The compliance and tele therapy all kind of at the same time.

Uriah It's all in the same bubble, if you will.

Liath Yeah, I think that at this point in time, we have evolved to a point where teletherapy is just a component of practice and a means of delivery. But it isn't this great demarcater of ‘are you a tele therapy practice or a traditional practice?’ That distinction is gone and something that we had been saying so much as people came to us with a tremendous amount of anxiety around making the shift to teletherapy was sort of this idea that being a teletherapist meant that suddenly HIPAA applied or had more real consequences than it previously did or did without teletherapy. And so what we would say in response is if you have your foundational components of just effective tech utilization that is approached through a risk management security lens and framework, then it's just one additional component. It isn't a whole new process or undertake.

Uriah That's perfect. So if I was to follow The PCT Way - and I'm considering signing up for whatever the charter documents are - will I also be ready for the virtual reality future?

Roy Yeah.

Uriah It's sort of a joke, but it's actually not a joke, right.

Roy Of course. 100%. Well, I don't know - I have a lot of thoughts about that. Maybe that's another podcast, right?!

Uriah That would be an interesting one, I think.

Roy Yeah. Okay. Sorry. Uriah sidetracked me!

Uriah ‘I was talking about artificial intelligence, Roy!’

Roy Okay. Yes, though. That's the thing, The PCT Way, because we took basically all these frameworks and all these lists and things we have, and we just made a system out of it. And the idea is to make sure that it's a system where you just kind of step on the first step and then you take the next step, and then you take the next step and you find yourself in a place where suddenly you've got a very robust, very almost anti-fragile kind of way of running a practice. I was really hesitant to use the word anti-fragile, because if someone actually studies that term can argue with me on it! But I have arguments for why it is that if someone wants to argue, I'd be happy to do so, because The PCT Way is very specifically a way of setting up and managing your practice. Very tech-focused, but it's all related to tech in some way or another, I should say, actually, but it's centered around tech because modern practice is. Not because we love tech.

Uriah Because modern practice just by the nature of the time we live in.

Roy Right. Exactly. Right. And that's why it works that way. The PCT Way is centered around that and is specifically designed in a way that helps to ensure that you have very little fragility in your practice. So your practice is not going to be washed over by the next version of whatever the COVID pandemic is; you’ll probably be able to flex. In general, the only kind of thing that will probably make the PCT fail is like total apocalypse, total collapse of society or something.

Uriah And then we'll go back to in-person.

Liath The Internet cease to exist and we couldn't access cloud system problems, right.

Roy Yeah.

Uriah Walking Dead kind of stuff.

Roy Yes. We're just in-person, but we're quiet because Walking Dead - very sound-sensitive. So like, you see, The PCT Way would be like, okay, so we have to do online therapy because zombies are sound-sensitive. So we're going to talk about how we do that, because that's what PCT does: just follow what the field is doing and what they need right there.

Uriah So it will prepare you for any eventuality, right?

Roy Yeah. And I was always really hesitant to say that, but I actually after a lot of talking to Liath about it and others and I just sort of feel confident I can say that. And ‘luckily’ we had COVID to test it.

Uriah It's taking the best out of the worst-case situations there. Yeah, I like that. So you're saying it's a step-by-step system that prepares and equips your practice to be - I’ve never heard the term before, but anti-fragile and I would guess also, not audit-proof, but something along those lines of...

Roy Not audit-proof. But here's, actually why I responded to you that way. I'm not going, ‘Oh, well, we're not auto proof. We're not going to do that.’ The PCT Way will actually prepare you to be audit-resistant. It will. But the reason I say this because I'm actually not worried about you getting audited. That's the thing. Depending on what you are, some of you really big group practices, maybe. But all historical indicators and everything that indicates happening in the future says that one thing I really don't want our people spending cortisol on is the idea of audits. That's not the realistic thing. That's not what happened.

Uriah What do you think is the best motivation, then for people to kind of get on board with The PCT Way or something similar to that?

Roy Well, The PCT Way, HIPAA compliance is just one thing it does. It's like the beauty of this. There are lots of other people who do this, right? They're like, ‘We'll design your tech stack, we'll help you figure out your systems.’ You do that, right? You kind of provide a service that does that. I think the beauty there is that all of us have noticed how vital that is. We're all going for it, right? So I think it's good for our field to see, Hey, people who spend a lot of time thinking about this, they're really focused on this. Maybe you should be, too, which I think is super important. The thing we do because we have this heavy background in HIPAA, when we give you your recipe and we tell you and we give you your forms and we say, ‘Okay, for you, this is the way you're going to want to manage, say, texting with clients because you're seeing clients of a low SES, so you actually really need to use on secure texting. And here's the way you do that to be HIPAA compliant. Our system is going to talk to you about that. And that's how you're going to do it. That's how you're going to set up things.’ What we tell you will consistently and reliably actually work out to be accurate, like it will stay HIPAA compliant and ethical. And if something about the framework changes, that's why it's an active service. It's not just like a book or selling you.

Liath Right. It’s basically a means of meeting practice needs, whatever those identified needs are operationally, functionally, internally, for your team management support and for meeting clients where they are, to be able to meet those needs in a cost-effective, functional way that is also consistently HIPAA-compliant. And by ‘consistently HIPAA compliant’, we don't mean that it's a product that makes you compliant, we mean that is consistent with your compliance activities, and that the solutions that get identified through implementing and utilizing The PCT Way are congruent with HIPAA compliance as a process.

Roy If you actually want to get HIPAA compliant, the PCA will take you there. But it's like the last two of the five steps. 

Uriah Okay. Interesting. I feel like, as we're talking about this, I need, like, a visual, like, I want, like, a CandyLand board that guides me through, like…

Roy Oh my God, we have one! This is an audio-only podcast, right?

Uriah It is.

Roy Because you just did, like, a little thing with your hand. We have that! It has that shape!

Uriah Oh perfect. I learned about this recently. I took an amazing course called Tribe, and it basically teaches you how to create a membership community, all kinds of different membership communities. But they say one of the important things is to give people what they call a Success Path, which is just a visual and like a step by step process to know how you get from step one to step five and what success looks like. So that's very cool to hear that you have that because I want to see it because I'm visual.

Roy Oh, cool. Yeah. We will send you right to it, man

Uriah That's fantastic. Because for some reason, it's the way my brain works. I love frameworks. And so a business framework and a step by step procedure just makes me happy. I guess that's the productivity guru in me.

Roy Also, as a therapist, I think the thing that makes us more interesting than a friendly or a good friend who will listen to you is how we're building these frameworks and conceptualizing in our head as we listen and think about what you're doing..

Uriah Definitely. What you're talking about makes me think about it just seems like there's a growing interest among therapists and especially folks who have group practices, of course, because of the necessity, but to create efficient systems for all the different aspects of the practice, to regain sanity as well as to just make life easy and make sure that the operation is moving smoothly. And just like, we're not trained in marketing and business in grad school. We don't know, like, operations! We don't know about this stuff, right? So we're trying to learn about it. And I just recently read Kacey Compton's book Fix This Next For Healthcare Providers. Fantastic. A lot of systems kind of stuff in there, right?

Roy Yeah.

Uriah So I think between Person Centered Tech and Productive Therapist and other like-minded organizations, the more we can equip the therapist to get that on board. Obviously, the clients that they serve are going to benefit from that as well as everybody inside of the organization.

Roy Yes.

Uriah Double thumbs up.

Roy Yeah. That's actually a huge…My thing…this is, for me, a big thing that it's been of why I really want to create something that people feel they can just step into and it takes them through, is because even after ten years, after ten years of doing something, you still keep seeing the same problems to solve. And you're like, why the same problems to solve?? Well, it's a whole, like just constantly meeting therapists, whether it's a group and how they're running or a solo practitioner who have only kind of halfway developed how they, say, communicate with clients and they're frustrated with it. But the problem is to get better, they need to either have someone tell them exactly what to do or research it. And when they ask colleagues to tell them exactly what to do, they get ten different answers, or they'll get all these answers, and then they go, like, find an article on our side that indicates that that answer is not HIPAA compliant.

Uriah Oh, my goodness!

Roy Yeah. Right. And I just had a lot of conversations with colleagues who are literally crying because they're so pushed and pulled by all this activity. And they're just like, I don't know what to do; I don't know who to trust. Or I'll just meet people who are like, oh, yeah, I absolutely never text the clients. But the problem is now I have this client for whom that's a significant barrier to care. What do I do? How do I do something that replaces texting? And I'm like, Why don't you text with them? And they're like, But I can't text with them according to this thing. Well, okay, what I'm going to do is I'm going to teach you how you can text with them.

Uriah They think they have their bases covered but it's really just because they don't opt in for certain things.

Roy Yeah. Well, it's just like they'll start hearing all of their colleagues talking about texting, like most of them are just saying, Just text with them, don't think about it. And this person is clearly not someone who feels comfortable doing that. And then others say, Oh, no, texting is not HIPAA compliant, which is, as you know, one of my pet peeves to refer to a product that's compliant or not. And that's the problem. And they go, well, that means clearly, I just cannot text. No, you can - you just need to understand the process. You need to understand how texting fits in. 

Uriah Right.

Roy And so the thing is that means that client hasn't been getting that. Like, this whole time, their clients have not been getting this form of connection. There's a lot of times when colleagues are like, I don't text the clients, and that actually is just how they want to do it. That's why they don't text the clients.

Uriah Just a personal boundary.

Roy Right. Exactly. And that's fine. I usually assume that's what they mean when they say that. Yeah. Cool. Right on. And they're like, Oh, man, like, it's so bad because the things I'm missing or the difficulties I'm having with these clients. And I'm like, Wait, so you do want to text you just think you can’t?

Uriah It seems to me that's a big part of that is just having the right information.

Roy Exactly.

Uriah Because you're right. That a lot of us think we know; a lot of us who are trained therapists, and we understand some things about HIPAA - just enough to be dangerous, right?

Roy Yeah. Right.

Uriah But solid, consistent information it seems to me it's hard to really distribute to everybody, but it's so nuanced as I know, from listening to your podcast and participating in your programs that you have to kind of commit some time and energy to really wrap your mind around what it really is, right?

Roy Yeah. That's right. And not everyone has the time or energy for that.

Liath And I think at this point in time, in particular, that providers and practice owners, especially group practice owners and leaders, there is enough kind of cognitive overhead and emotional burden that people don't want to have to devote all this time and energy and expense to finding the things that are the solutions to their identified needs. They want things to be efficient and cost effective and meet those identified needs and not create a bunch of cumbersome processes or cause great stress because maybe they get the functionality they want and need, but it's not something that really fits with risk management and security compliance needs. So that's why we want to create or have created the system that is a means for meeting each of those needs in a way that's congruent and accessible where you can enter the path wherever your current need is and tackle that like, it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing process, which is I think what can sometimes be a barrier for engaging this way of practice leadership or practice management.

Uriah If it feels too intimidating, most people will run away. And or focus on something else. I like what you just shared there. So I have two follow up questions: number one, how do the folks listening to this podcast know if this is right for them? I think I know the answer to that one! And then number two, how did they get more information about this?

Roy Well, number one, the flowchart is, are you a mental health professional or the owner of the practice of mental health professionals in private practice? Yes - for you. No - might be for you. Check it out, see if it is right - it might still be for you. Certainly the trainings are still valuable to you, if not the actual system itself. How they get to it is like, you just go to personcenteredtech.com. And The PCT Way is the whole system. The actual products are like, you actually don't need to buy anything to start on the way. But basically once you get past, once you've really done the first step, you'll start realizing, Okay, there’s a reason there's a product here. You'll start utilizing it to get your needs met.

Liath Right. And the primary service or product that is the means for getting The PCT Way system is called Practice Care, and there's a version of Practice Care that's for solo providers, and then a parallel but specific version for group practices as well that serves all of the different team members within a group practice.

Uriah I like it.

Roy There's a super cool feature for groups. It's not that we don't care about solo practitioners, it’s just that you don't need this thing. Practice owners do need this thing. This actually is just from signing up; this is one of those things you don't have to buy to start with The Way. But basically you can get your whole team signed up on Person Centered Tech with you as a team. And then you can assign trainings to your team, and it will automatically track and send them reminders and give you a history of training assignment tasks, and generally also, actually, it's not just training, it’s basically HIPAA compliance tasks. So you do buy the trainings, of course, but just assign them, including, if you have a group Practice Care, you can then also assign your people to go run their own personal devices through the device security center and register their devices, which is an aspect of what's called Bring Your Own Device. And of course, you can also use the exact same thing for just the devices that the practice owns. And solo providers, of course, can…

Uriah That's really cool. I like that.

Roy Yeah, but solo providers don't need to be assigning tasks to people, so we don't have that for that.

Liath No. Although I potentially foresee a time when we might have a solo provider who signs up as a team of one because they want to assign themselves things. 

Roy Oh, yeah. That's true! I could see that because it sends them reminders. Right?

Uriah I guess. And maybe possibly solar providers who have some sort of a team, which it could be like a virtual assistant, for example. 

Roy Tell me more about that, Uriah - have you heard of this virtual assistant?…

Uriah They're in the Cloud!

Liath Love the Cloud!

Uriah So I'm realizing that I need to figure out where I am on this map of yours and figure out where my practice needs to go next. So I'm going to follow through with that and figure out what I need to do next. And I do have a team that I can delegate to because I don't enjoy some of this stuff. I enjoy the tech part, but some of the other things not so much. So yes, point me where to go to tell other people in my team how to get us further, right?

Liath Yeah, I absolutely will. I also happen to know - because I know all things within our company! - that you have done step four in The PCT Way.

Uriah Yes. How many steps are there?

Liath Five.

Uriah Okay, good. That sounds like I already made progress!

Roy Yeah, you're very far along.

Uriah But what I didn't tell you is that I didn't implement everything I learned in step four, so…! 

Roy That's okay. That’s step five.

Liath That's step five.

Uriah Okay, good. Excellent.

Liath So I can get you all hooked up with step five.

Uriah You know, I'm the person that if there's an online course or anything in life where you check boxes and completion is a thing, I want to go to 100%. I mean, not every Zelda video game I've ever played have I finished at 100%, but many things. I don't know. I just threw a video game reference in there for some reason!

Roy Yeah, right.

Liath That's very appropriate, because I think the gamification and that sense of actually accomplishing and working your way towards a culmination of a whole journey and getting your gold star or…our old business manager to talk about that a lot.

Uriah Is that right?

Liath Documented compliance isn't just enough of a reward for engaging this arduous process. People need their gold star, too, and they need their gold star at key milestones.

Uriah It's true - to keep you going, you need to feel like you're making progress and you're accomplishing things, and you're reaching the goal. Yeah, that's good. Well, I appreciate having you on the podcast. I don't know. I'm sure we'll have a round two and a round three because we have lots more to talk about, but I appreciate you sharing this, and I'm excited to get this out to my audience and spread the good news of The PCT Way

Roy All right. Thanks, Uriah!

Uriah Have a good day.

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