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March 25th, 2019

Ep 03: Drug Rehab CEO's Laissez-Faire Business Strategies with Charles Davis

This week on The Practice Manager Podcast, drug rehab marketing consultant Charles Davis discusses business strategies for the behavioral health and addiction treatment industry and how he built one of the largest audiences of addiction treatment professionals in the nation through the use of SEO, branding, and social media marketing.

His drug rehab marketing strategies produced a social media following of over 150,000 addiction professionals and individuals seeking information on treatment. He has the most addiction and behavioral health professional level one connections on LinkedIn with 23,000. His main social media focus has been on LinkedIn and Facebook. These are the two largest mediums that drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers should be focusing on.

Charles also creates and hosts successful addiction treatment conferences nationally (14 total in 2018) that have included senators, district attorneys, CEOs, executives, attorneys, and drug and alcohol treatment industry business thought leaders.

Listen to the podcast to learn how Charles used social media to get off-the-charts marketing results for his clients, and how you can too!
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The transcript appears below but some highlights from our conversation with Charles include:

  • The behavioral health and addiction treatment industry have seen huge regulation restrictions and laws come into place that make it very difficult for owners to continue operating with the same strategy as before.
  • Charles feels drug rehab centers need to become better educated and more agile to stay ahead of their competition.
  • He built one of the largest addiction professional audiences in the nation with 30,000 addiction behavior health level 1 connections and 12 addiction professional groups with 50,000 members on Linkedin.
  • He saw that the treatment centers did not have an education in web marketing using short-term solutions to their long-term problems.
  • Charles began focusing on SEO and he started holding conferences for executives and C-level professionals educating them on business and marketing practices and given them proven strategies they can implement.
  • You can publish great content and not get in front of your target audience. So he suggests connecting on social media with as many people as you can in your target audience.
  • He feels to effectively get reach on an article it'll take a whole day to push that article out.
  • He recommends treatment centers establish strong relationships with their clients and get them comfortable with their counselors so they stay with them long term.
  • There are 14,000 treatment centers across US and a majority of them are leaving money on the table; either they don't know it or they're just not focused enough on going after it.
  • He suggests treatment centers look for an integrated, all-in-one EHR and billing solution from one single vendor because in the long run, centers will save a tremendous amount of money in time, staff, and in realized revenue.
  • Because of the difficulty in getting paid, he feels billing is the key area on which treatment centers should focus. 

Resources from this episode: 

Transcript

The following is an excerpted transcript of our ADS Practice Manager Podcast Episode 3. The transcript has been edited to make it more readable.

Sebastian Rusk (Host): Welcome to the Advanced Data Systems’ practice manager broadcast experience with key interviews along with tips and highlights of the latest trends in healthcare technology for your practice. And now here's your host Carlos Izquierdo.

Carlos Izquierdo (ADS): Welcome to episode three of The Practice Manager Podcast. Today’s episode is called "Drug Rehab CEO's Laissez-faire Business Strategies with Charles Davis". Charles is the CEO of Behavioral Health Network Resources. Before we jump into this, I want to ask him about “laissez-faire.” What is does it mean?  

Charles Davis (Guest): Laissez-faire basically it means operating in a “business as usual” approach with no governmental involvement at all. The irony is that our industry, the behavioral health and addiction treatment industry, has had huge governmental regulation restrictions and laws that came into place making it very difficult for operators to continue operating with the same successful strategies they’ve been employing for years. It’s a $40 billion a year industry with money flowing like water and now everything is tightening down so you have to get smarter, you have to get faster, and you have to get more educated on the business and marketing sides. Some CEO’s are getting it and some are not. The ones that are not getting it are the ones that are closing, and there are a tremendous amount of centers closing. There are also some new ones opening up, so being better educated and being faster and more agile than your competition is key to surviving in the behavior health industry today.

Carlos: Understood and I think it's fair to say that in any industry in general, but especially in healthcare across the board, most specialties are seeing these changes, but let's take a step back. So, tell us a little bit about yourself. How do you know so much about this space?

Charles: I kind of evolved like almost everyone in this industry. I didn’t set out to be in it but you get here by sage or whatever you might call it.

My degree is in marketing from the University of Buffalo (NY). I worked for the two largest newspapers in South Florida as an edition executive for over 13 years and both papers, the Internet just totally took over. Some newspapers were losing $20 million dollars a month to web marketing. So I had to make a transition over to another industry.

I came across a company by the name of West Journal Training which had Counselor Magazine, one of the leading magazines in the addiction space. They signed me on to be Marketing Director for that magazine. After about two or three weeks they switched me over to the Conference Division. They’d hold very high-end clinical conferences so I had the opportunity to tour across United States. I got educated very quickly on the clinical side and while in that process there were so many holes that I saw in this industry and one of them was getting referrals from other treatment centers. There are only so many referrals to go around, so when I first started Behavior Health Network Resources my goal was to help connect treatment centers’ outreach professionals with the hard-to-reach referrals.

I'm talking to EAPs, I'm talking the attorneys, I'm talking to private clinicians. They were relying on other treatment centers about referrals. I’d be at these other conferences and that’s all they do. So what we did is we focused on building one of the largest addiction professional audiences in the nation. To give you an example on LinkedIn we have 30,000 addiction behavior health level 1 connections, we own 12 addiction professional groups on LinkedIn with 50,000 members. On LinkedIn we’re running three profiles with 15,000 friends and we’re looking at about 40 groups now with 150,000 members and those are professionals and individuals seeking treatment, so you know we did that for about six months and we did very, very well at it.

But there were other gaping holes that I was going after and one of them was web marketing, again because I saw that the treatment centers did not have the education in web marketing, they didn't understand web marketing, they wanted short-term solutions to their long-term problems and they relied on paying for calls and paying Google to be on page 1 with a paid ad. So we started to switch over in SEO and then because we know where the problems are, thought we'd start holding conferences for executives and C-level professionals educating them on business and marketing practices and give them proven strategies that they can implement.

Carlos: This would be on the marketing practices that you mentioned. 

Charles: Correct, we held 15 conferences in Florida and California. We've sold out 13 of the 15 we usually have between 150 and 200 attendees at each event. Most of them are high-level executives.

Carlos: Earlier you mentioned Level 1 connections on LinkedIn. What does that mean for those out there that don't really work on LinkedIn much and what do you recommend?  

Charles: Absolutely, I started my whole business on LinkedIn. A level 1 connection means they've expected to be your connection like where on Facebook they've expected to be your friend. So once that happens, they see all of your activity. You just have to know what activity and where to put it to get it in front of them all the time. Let's say I post an article and it goes to 30,000 boards.

However, only 5% of those people might be online at that time to see it. One of the tricks to Linkedin is you have to go back in and re-share that post three times a day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening because once you re-share it, it goes back up to the top of their board (view).

Carlos: That's a great tip because I think a lot of people just share something once and expect it to go viral but that’s not how it works.

Charles: Well not just sharing it in general. We own 12 groups there and belong to over 75 groups so we also share in the groups. To effectively get reach on an article it'll take a whole day to push that article out. However, between the hundred or so groups you're looking at 250,000 members so now by 30,000 turned in the 250,000. So, it's all about making sure the content gets in front of them. You can have great content and not get in front of your target audience. So the other suggestion is connect with as many people as you can that are your target audience, somebody that could potentially use your service, because the more connections you have, the better off you get to because it's a numbers game. It’s only a fraction are going to see anything at any given time.

Carlos: And you just mentioned that we need to share many times. So on our side as professionals we’re searching for different solutions, we’re searching for different things. On the other side, the patients are searching for different treatments or different ways to solve their problems. If you're not there when they're looking for you then they’ll go somewhere else, so I can see that.

Before we jump into that, I think it's a good opportunity right now to find out how we can connect with Charles Davis on LinkedIn. So Charles, what's easiest way to find you on LinkedIn?

Charles: All anyone has to do is search Charles Davis on LinkedIn and I'll be at the top of the list. My SEO on LinkedIn and outside of LinkedIn is phenomenal. My LinkedIn profile actually ranks for key terms also on Google. So if you Google “drug rehab marketing consultant” I'll be on page 1 of Google. And if you Google “Charles Davis” in LinkedIn you’re going to find me.

Carlos: So find Charles Davis on LinkedIn and connect with him. For me, I got lucky that my last name is “Izquierdo” so just search “Carlos Izquierdo” and you'll find me as well.

So, you mentioned patient experience and patient engagement, what should people be doing for their offices to manage these two main things?

Charles: I can speak for the addiction treatment segment of the space. Addiction is a complicated disease and there's no quick fix. The general public has this perception that you know you can fix addiction in 30, 60, or 90 days and that’s simply not the case it’s a behavioral health issue. It's an issue that rewires the reward system in the brain.

It takes counseling, guidance, and dedication to be in recovery. And once you're in recovery, you never fully recover either, you know, it's a life-long disease so they have to stay on track all the time. The only way to do that is when these treatment centers establish a relationship to get them comfortable with their counselors to stay with them long term because that's going to increase the patient experience. If they're close to relapsing, they’ll want to be where they're most comfortable.  

Carlos: It takes a lot for the person to just come to grips that he or she needs rehab; that they have an addiction. And then on top of that we know the doctors and clinicians need to make it easy for patients to be able to connect with them. If the person already took that leap and said “I need this treatment” and then they can’t get a hold of someone, I completely see that.

Charles: And another thing is that general practitioners really aren't experienced in addiction. They really don't have the education or the skill so you know that somebody comes in and they're in pain, the doctors very quickly prescribe pain medication not knowing that this person has an addiction issue and that pain medication could trigger that addiction and get them to relapse. So they have to ask more involved questions to their clients and once they get a hint that there's an addiction issue get them into the care of a treatment center, a private counselor somewhere else because it's out of their scope.

Carlos: Understood.

Charles: And that would help build relationships, you know, between the them and the addiction care professionals, so in the end it's the person who wins.

Carlos: Got it.

We were talking earlier and I think this all comes back to what are these doctors doing? How are they connecting? How are they engaging with these patients? And what does their time look like? It came up during our conversation when we talked about practice management, revenue cycle, which is what Advanced Data Systems does.  

Should the provider be spending their time and focusing on the billing, the coding and all these things? Instead, should they be really focusing on the patient experience and on the engagement having all the staff doing that. Would you agree that that if we can repurpose some of the staff members and really focus on patient experience I think you would agree that will grow the practice while helping people change their lives for the better. 

Charles: I agree, especially in the behavioral health space, a lot of them are trying to do billing in-house and they don't have the resources. They might have somebody who thinks they're very well educated on billing and running it, however, billing is a complicated process. In our industry, it seems they're always looking for the quickest route, and the quickest route is that we have these six billing codes that we’re going to use, and this is how we’re going to get paid by insurance companies.

Well, there are so many other things that are being left unbilled and thrown to the side and then written off. We’re actually holding a series of addiction executive conferences right now trying to educate them that they're leaving 20 to 30% on the table.

Carlos: Wow!

Charles: As I said, there are 14,000 treatment centers across United States and a majority of them are leaving that much money on the table and either they don't know it or they're just not focused enough on it to go after it.

Carlos: And sometimes depending on your volume, even something as simple as two, three, four dollars but you’re just not submitting that one code. If you're helping 1,000 patients a month, at four dollars each you’re leaving $4000 a month on the table.

Charles, we just did an episode with Isaiah Leach from ADS’ MedicsRCM Revenue Cycle Management Team and he mentioned the whole cycle…everything from start to finish and how the revenue cycle team on-boards clients including what they do and what they take care of. There's a lot to it. It's not just submitting claims.

That there are five things that can happen to a claim:  either you get paid and it's good to go, you get paid incorrectly, it gets denied, or it gets lost in the payer’s system, or it just didn’t get submitted. So the easy part of billing is submitting 100 claims and being paid correctly on those claims. If it was like that we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But that’s why we’re having the conversation because that almost never happens.

Charles: It seems payers are doing whatever they can to deny claims or stall paying for so long that treatment centers just say “the heck with it” so there's a huge chunk of revenue sitting there which only increases with new claims piling on. If you have a billing company or software that can capture those claims, you stand to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As a treatment center owner you know that's the point. We’re trying to educate executives on this because things are getting tight, operating cash is getting tight, and you get to a certain point where you're not going to recover and you’re going to close your doors. So billing is the key area for them to be looking at, that's for sure.

Carlos: Absolutely and I think another point that I read is the importance a single platform system. Advanced Data Systems has that for both electronic health records and the practice management software so when you have something that needs to connect to one, you can log into, get everything done and just code easily and not deal with two different vendors. I think that's a tremendous advantage in not having to deal with two different companies.

Charles: You know a lot of treatment centers have struggled once they’ve signed on with an EHR company and then they didn't look far enough in the future and then they’re running into the problems you spoke of. So, changing an EHR for treatment center is a big deal, it affects everybody in the organization so they're very reluctant to do it.

However, you can only put so many pieces together that won't fit and then you're going to start to lose stuff. So it's really beneficial for them to get one system that’s an integrated solution. In the long run they're going to save a tremendous amount of money and time. I mean it’s huge dollars. They have to understand how big the process is, it's not a short-term solution that's for sure.

Carlos: Absolutely, it's not something that should even be considered a short-term solution. Seeing more patients and you’re getting paid less. You need automation to counteract that and make the most of your claims, not the least.

Charles:  Exactly.  

Carlos: Alright, I think it's been it's been a great show. There’s a lot more that we can dive deep into in future episodes. What is the conference you mentioned earlier?  

Charles: It’s the Addiction Executive EMP Conference on April 30th (2019) in Riviera Beach, Florida. It's a one-day event from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Our events feature five executive analysts who we interview in front of the entire audience then turn over the whole event to the audience to ask questions about their pain points in their operating procedures. It really becomes a mastermind class of more than 150 C suite executives trying to solve problems. It's been a great series for us.

Carlos: Anyone listening should feel free to visit www.adsc.com and go to the “events” page from the “resources” tab for our current list of events which includes the one Charles just mentioned.

Charles: At the event addiction professionals will receive awards in various categories such as 2018’s Best Treatment Center, Best Clinical Director, Best Marketing Director, and Best Outreach Person. It’s great that Advanced Data Systems is sponsoring that luncheon, so I really want to say thank you to ADS on behalf of all of our addiction behavior health professionals.

Carlos: We appreciate being able to do it. I’m looking forward to being there as well since I’m based in Miami.

Charles: That's great love to have you.

Carlos: Alright, so I guess that's a wrap. This is episode three of the Practice Manager Podcast. Please like our page and follow our podcasts. You can also find Charles on LinkedIn as he mentioned, and visit www.behavioralhealthnetworkresources.com.

Charles: Correct or just Google BHNR and I’ll be within the top six listings. 

Carlos: Perfect. Thank you, Charles for joining us today.

Charles: Thank you. Have a great tomorrow.

Sebastian:  We appreciate you joining this episode of the ADS Practice Manager Podcast. If you haven't done so already make sure to sign up as an ADS podcast subscriber in order to be notified on upcoming broadcasts. And if you feel so inclined please leave us a review!

About Advanced Data Systems Corporation

Since 1977, Advanced Data Systems Corporation (ADS) has been a leading provider of mobile Electronic Health Records and Practice Management automation for multiple specialties. We have specific systems for Behavioral Health and Laboratories as well as MedicsRIS for radiology. Our MedicsRCM is ideal if revenue cycle management is preferred.

Tens of thousands of providers and system operators rely on solutions from ADS to help them derive maximized revenue with extraordinary efficiency while optimizing the patient’s experience enabling them to stay connected using their iPads, iPhones and Android devices.

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