Dr. Scott, a member of our Practice Accelerator program, recently executed a blockbuster patient education movie night that made a massive impact on her practice and the local functional medicine movement.
How did she do it?
Tune in today and discover:
- The details of how she put on a blockbuster, practice-changing movie night that attracted key CEOs to her practice and the local functional medicine movement, including:
- How she selected the right movie for the right audience (this is key)
- How she attracted experts for a panel discussion
- Which venue she used
- And how she marketed it to attract over 80 participants and high-level business owners
- Why CEOs and business owners are so interested in events like this, and how it can impact your practice and local movement
- How the Functional Forum book and the Functional Forum helped Dr. Scott transform her business from a high-overhead insurance-based model to a lean, profitable cash-based micropractice
- How she re-branded her practice using the simple tech-strategies taught in the Practice Accelerator and the help of the accountability groups
As Dr. Scott’s story proves, a simple movie night can have an incredible ripple effect on a single practice and the functional medicine movement as a whole…when done right.
Resources Mentioned in this podcast:
Functional Forum Practice Accelerator
Free Online Marketing Training from Functional Forum (Eventbrite Webinar)
Announcer: Welcome to the Functional Forum Podcast, the place health professionals come to hear from innovators and agitators leading the charge. We cover the latest clinical breakthroughs in health technology, as well as practical tools to help transform your practice and the health of your community. Now here’s your host, James Maskell.
James Maskell: Hello and welcome to the podcast. This week we hear from Dr. Tara Scott. She is an OB/GYN from Akron, Ohio, and a member of our Practice Accelerator. This is part of our Success Leaves Clues series and when you listen to this, you’ll understand why. Dr. Scott has built a really successful practice. She’s been hit up to be the director of a new integrated center in a local hospital, but recently she put on a movie night, and it had some spectacular results. This is exactly the reason why we’re targeting employers. This is exactly the reason why we’ve built a community of world changing physician entrepreneurs in the accelerator. This was one of my favorite podcasts of all time, I think you’ll agree. Enjoy.Alright, so a warm welcome to the podcast, Dr. Tara Scott. Welcome, Doc.
Dr. Tara Scott: Welcome. Thanks for having me.
James Maskell: So great to have you here on the podcast. This is part of our Success Leaves Clues. Dr. Scott is part of our Practice Accelerator. I know that every doctor who makes the transition into integrated and functional medicine has an interesting story by which sort of led them there, so let’s start there. How did you make the transition from conventional medicine to this world?
Dr. Tara Scott: So I started out practice as a very busy OB/GYN doing a lot of surgery. I presented research at a national meeting my first year out of residency, and the first kind of taste of functional medicine, or just a holistic approach was with my own personal struggles with infertility, autoimmune thyroiditis, and endometriosis. So, it really led me first to just studying more about women’s hormone balancing and alternative therapies, and that’s where I started.
But the real event, I think, for me was about 10 years ago when my brother suddenly passed away. He was a diabetic, he was on a statin, he was a smoker, and he had a lot of risk factors, but to traditional medicine he was healthy until the day he died suddenly with no warning. So to me I thought that was a pretty preventable death, and especially when I see the statistics that 80% of premature deaths are preventable by lifestyle choices, I felt like that was really where that turned me. That I thought, “We’ve got to be able to do better than this instead of waiting until someone has a disease,” and to really just finding a way to head it off or find it upstream.
So from there I kind of branched more out from just dealing with women’s hormones holistically to doing a fellowship in functional medicine through A4M, and I got the board certification. I went on and got another board certification in integrated medicine, and really just expanded. For a while I did both at the same time, I’d work two days at my OB/GYN practice, and I opened a practice five years ago. But after a while it just got really difficult to live in a traditional world when you know the answer is something else and people aren’t maybe interested in that.
James Maskell: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I’ve heard that more and more. You feel this sort of moral obligation to do it differently, but you’re sort of stuck within the confines of the practice and the way that it has been, and it’s hard to deal with actually internally, right?
Dr. Tara Scott: Right, right.
James Maskell: Yeah, absolutely. So tell us about some of the travails as you went through your practice. Now you’re sort of an entrepreneur in private practice trying to work these kinds of things out. What were some of the lessons that you’ve learned along the way about building your own practice?
Dr. Tara Scott: Well the way our business actually started was kind of untraditional. So my husband has an ER group, and they have a business that was looking to start up fund startups. So we wrote a business plan for the practice, and initially it was going to be scalable and it was going to be based on hormonal health, so when we started the practice they funded us to start up sharing HR/legal with his larger company. So it wasn’t started as a micropractice, it was not low overhead. It was high overhead.
So we wasted a lot of money and a lot of startup things. We had three or four nurse practitioners, and myself as a supervising doctor, and nobody was really looking at the way the business was run. Their business ended up taking on a wealth capital partner, and they took off like crazy. Their business is doing great.
So then I wanted to kind of secede and just run my own thing, but I didn’t know anything about running a business. So, actually I was just gonna quit and sell my practice to Cleveland Clinic and I met with all the hospitals around. I was gonna take a staff job at Cleveland Clinic. Honestly, it sounds cheesy, but I read your book. I was traveling and I read your book, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can do some of this. I’m gonna give this a try. I’m gonna teach myself this.”
So the first thing I did was start a meetup group. We meet quarterly, and so just meeting with other people in the field: chiropractors, naturopaths, it just gave me so much of an energy instead of being in my own little bubble, because I’ve been doing this in my town for a very long time by myself and so that kind of kept me going.
And then through the functional forum, then I decided to do the Practice Accelerator. I completely overhauled my business and then went to a low overhead. Got rid of some people, most staff, and we came off of insurance. We did it slowly, because for the first three years we were on insurance thinking that we’d make up in volume, but what I found after year three and not really paying myself for the last half of the year, that it really wasn’t sustainable.
So, even though we had the volume of patients they just weren’t paying at all for what we were doing because we’re only seeing eight patients a day and you just can’t make it work on what they are reimbursing us. So, slowly I came off of insurance as the contract expired and I think that helped because then I still had some volume as the other ones, and there was definitely a dip in the patient volumes when we went all cash. But clearly, you know, we finished 2017 so much better because we had better cash paying patients and people who really got it and who really wanted functional medicine instead of someone who thought I’m just another GYN who’s doing hormone balancing.
So, I’ve kind had to rebrand my practice through this whole transition and with the guide of the Practice Accelerator. Got on Facebook, I wasn’t even on Facebook, I’m so not tech-savvy. Set up all the videos and got the tripod and the lavalier and that led me to the Practice Accelerator, which led me then to do the movie night and I just took a dive and did the event right. And it walks you through step by step and with the accountability group, that really helped as well get some personal … Some of the things that I couldn’t figure out. And from there I redid the website, again. I had just completely paid a huge amount to do the website and it didn’t have a lead magnet and it didn’t have anything on it. Then I got to Big Boost and to Uli and he helped me tremendously. So, even with the events that I’m doing now I’ve got the autoresponder set up, and there is no way I would’ve been able to do that on my own, honestly.
James Maskell: Absolutely. Well, look, thank you for sharing that and it makes me feel amazing to see that journey and to understand that because there’s a lot of things that you said there that I wanna unpack piece by piece.
So, you know, first of all with the Practice Accelerator one of the things … I’ve seen you practicing, doing your videos. We’ve seen ones from the chair and we’ve seen one from the plane, I think, right? You know what is it … You know, that’s a big piece, sort of taking the step into video. I mean, we just had the 50th Functional Forum and looking back at the first Functional Forum and the fourth Functional Forum, the video quality was so bad but you gotta start somewhere.
How hard was it to sorta get over that hump and how much easier was it knowing that there are other people supporting you on?
Dr. Tara Scott: Well my first videos are terrible. Terrible. If you go back and look at them, they are really bad. And then actually seeing other people post their videos was helpful and then the tips that Uli gave me. But it does come more natural, and so much so that I was at swim meet and my son had a good race so I said, “Hey, let’s make a video out of it.” And now they kind of make fun of me where I’m always trying to get the angle of what can we learn from this and what can we teach about this in making a video. So now, I’m really comfortable doing it.
James Maskell: That’s awesome. Yeah, so good. And let’s talk a little bit about the accountability group because this is something we added in last summer. We really realized that if we wanted to provide something where we could help physician entrepreneurs sort of reach their potential without having it cost $100,000 to join, we had to find some sort of way and we saw that there was such power and accountability at the peer-to-peer. We teach it, we help people do it in the clinical way with things like group visits, but we started this thing last year called the accountability group where we get groups of five practitioners in a group and they meet weekly.
Can you just share a little bit about your experience with that and what that’s meant for you as an entrepreneur?
Dr. Tara Scott: So I’ve only been in the accountability group for, I think, three or four months. So it was after Thanksgiving over the holidays I started, and I don’t know how you match people but I was in it with a chiropractor and a health coach. So my initial impression was like, “Wow, I was really hoping to be maybe with another physician, somebody who has a similar practice,” and you know I wasn’t really sure how it would work. But Nicole facilitates every week and I really have felt like our groups has really gelled and we really provide support, and so even though we were different disciplines I really feel like they’ve really been helpful to give feedback and to really give encouragement.
And I think that’s one of the problems with functional medicine, is that when you do veer off of traditional medicine, you are in your own little bubble. And also criticized by traditional medicine, and so if you’re still in a town where … When I was doing OB work and I was doing this kind of natural hormone balancing, people can criticize you or take aim at you. But when you have a solidified kinda group of..connect group I think it really helped and for me Nicole being the phenomenal and just her way of framing things and getting a goal and driving activity. Like I said, we don’t learn any of that in medical school.
So to have that kind of guidance has been really priceless to me.
James Maskell: Beautiful. Yeah, I really appreciate you saying that ’cause, you know, we realize a lot of the things you end up doing in your practice is the same whether you are a health coach or a doctor; you have to bring people in, you have to educate them, you have to create the right funnels, you have to create the autoresponder. There’s nothing special going on really for medical side of things and ultimately you have the Facebook group where it’s kinda like the dojo where everyone is and you can ask questions in there. But I appreciate you sharing that.
So let’s talk a little bit about the movie night. I was actually inspired to do this podcast because I saw you posted about your movie night, and this just has a special place in my heart because this was what Dr. Gladd did right at the beginning in 2015. We had about 50 or 60 doctors do a movie night around Escape Fire. I love that film. I just feel like it’s the best film. That, sort of, moving and motion for people to want to get involved.
So, can you share little bit about your experience from sort of soup to nuts? Like from the moment you had the idea to do it right through to the execution. I’d love to hear your thoughts about how that whole thing went down.
Dr. Tara Scott: So the process is pretty much outlined in the Practice Accelerator but the first thing was to select the movie, and after I watched Escape Fire I liked that it hit on a few key areas. One is the first, there is the opioid epidemic and there’s been a lot about the regulation and the prescribing of opioids and people looking for alternatives. Two, it hit on acupuncture and that was one of the first offerings that we decided at the hospital to make for integrative medicine and apuncture. And then three, it really addressed this part with healthcare.
So I had also heard that it was a great conversion, and so my goals for movie night were really … It’s not so much really to get a lot of patients to sign up with me but was more to create an awareness about that this kind of medicine is there. Because I think one of the sticky points for me in Akron is also that people are still unsure as to what exactly functional medicine is and why they need it and how it can help them.
So that was the reason. That was really my goal as to create awareness and also to just kind of get people excited and start a movement. Those were my goals. Not so much patient conversions. But setting up the video was pretty easy through Tug, and then in our area you can’t use it at movie theater because there’s some kind of conflict with the way the local theaters have contracts. So I had to search for a venue and the main library downtown has a huge auditorium that seats 400 people so that seemed to be good for the venue, and then it was just listing the event right and trying to market it through Facebook.
I mean, I reached out to my meetup group for the events that I had, personal emails, I put flyers up in our office and in other people’s offices. Really just pounded the pavement to get people there, and it was a little bit of a risk because it was February because the weather; one snow storm could just knock everybody out and then nobody will show up but thankfully it was a decent temperature, although it was raining. We had 140 people sign up and about 85 people came.
James Maskell: Wow, that’s amazing. Congratulations. I really love it and I think when you said that building the hearts and minds and building the movement … I mean, ultimately, someone’s gonna have to sell people in the hospital, the local employers, or otherwise. Either that’s gonna be you or the movie does such an amazing job. I mean, that movie is really created to move hearts and minds in exactly that way. So I’m glad you took advantage of it.
So, what’s been some of the feedback since and who did you get to show up?
Dr. Tara Scott: So I really was not prepared for as much feedback. I just didn’t think through how powerful it was on everybody else. So I had from just my friends kind of saying, “Wow. This isn’t what I expected. I really didn’t think this was. I could’ve thought of 20 other people.” But one of the clients that were there, one of my patients, is the CEO of FedEx Custom Critical and she reached out to me that night and said, “Wow, I’m so glad I could come. I’m taking this straight to HR Corporate in Memphis and I’ve told them about the movie and I will support you in whatever you wanna do with this.” And then the CEO of the local business called me and said, “I wanna be a pilot group to say why can’t we get it to locals and show the metric that it works and it saves money and how can I support you?”
So thorough different business heads and everything we kinda got the idea of, “well maybe we should do this again,” and so we’re planning on having a corporate movie night. And so we’ve got these different CEOs enlisting all their contacts. I have a few fans that are prominent places in Akron, I guess, plus the CEO of the hospital, and the Corporate Health Department of the hospital. So now we’re meeting this week and we’re gonna pick a date, we’re gonna show the movie in the hospital, and we’re gonna personally invite the CEOs, the HR people, the business leaders of the big corporations in Akron or any company that’s like-minded to health, and we’re gonna show it again to them and then again invite the medical staff and doctors who weren’t able to attend or didn’t understand what it meant.
So everybody now, at least Akron, these corporations are super interested in what can they do about this and how can we be like Safeway and how can we foster community health that translates to savings. And so I guess I really didn’t think it was going to segue into this huge tidal wave of this corporate health.
So that’s been the biggest surprise and the biggest reward and it’s so exciting to be part of that because it just has such a powerful effect on people and what’s going on with our healthcare.
James Maskell: This is such an amazing podcast. This is like my favorite moment ever because you can see … You know, we’ve been angling towards creating something that can deliver functional medicine at scale to these companies. So if FedEx just suddenly said, “Okay, yes, we want this.” Right? Then we could actually do something. That’s kind of like the way that I’ve been thinking about it. You know, we’ve been thinking about it for so long it’s like, yeah, if we actually realized that this is the future of care, we need to start acting like it and building the capacity to actually deliver this.
I just wanna, first of all, just say the most valuable thing that anyone could do as part of our community is take the initiative to do something. Anything in their community like this. And I absolutely love it. Like this is just incredible to get that kind of support. I know the doctors that do functional medicine have contacts in their communities of employers or other people that you know, and this movie is an incredible way to be able to build consensus.
I think the events that we do later in the year with the new tour, it sounds like we’re gonna have to make a stop in Akron for this because you could see that a little bit of energy, a little bit of momentum, and one decision maker … You know, FedEx I think has like 1.4 million employees, right? So you’re talking about huge numbers of people that could be infected with functional medicine as a result of just something small like this. The ripple effect is so huge.
So, look and thank you so much for doing this and anything that we can do to be helpful … You know, I know that this is going to start a conversation where we could start to do some things together. It’s really amazing to just hear what happens when someone takes initiative, gets the right people in the room, uses an asset to be able to transform the hearts and minds of the community, and it just gets me really excited of where we could go as a community.
Like, I only have a certain amount of bandwidth and stuff that we can do but I know that if the community could really move forward with doing this kind of thing we could make a huge impact as a grassroots movement.
Dr. Tara Scott: Yeah and I think, as far as my practice goes, having the new changes on the website set up … I sent everybody, even people that didn’t come to the movie night that registered, I plugged them into my autoresponder and I’ve gotten some feedback from people there too. That, “Hey, I’m eating healthier now. My who family is following your advice.” Because my autoresponder is geared at those three preventable causes to prevent premature death is what you do with your feet, your fork, and your fingers. So that’s like the starting of that and so just to get that feedback from other people too who maybe haven’t booked an appointment yet but, hey, their family is changing what they are doing because of the autoresponders.
So, having that all set up, and I know Uli’s team worked really hard to make sure it was done by movie night so I really appreciate that, and so that’s part of that ripple that you’re talking about and that’s what’s so exciting is for me, to just influence everybody to be healthy and to be awesome and not to be average.
James Maskell: I love it. You know, it’s amazing. Thank you for bringing that up. I mean the number one thing that we’re teaching in our Practice Accelerator is the building of the autoresponder so that you can provide education to people in your community without your own time being taken up. And, ultimately, that’s what we’re talking about. We need an educational tsunami as Dr. Terry Wahls would say, “an epidemic of health,” and ultimately like that could be created with technology tools, we just have to use them. And, ultimately, that’s the reason why we started the Practice Accelerator was to teach practitioners to do this kind of thing. So I’m super excited.
So, you know, is there anything that you’d like to share with maybe other physicians that are listening to this? Maybe particularly physicians who either feel or maybe they’re stuck in the kind of practice there used to be where they have one foot in, one foot out, or they still feel a moral obligation to practice this type of medicine but they’re still working their day job. I’d love for you to … you have the floor to be able to share your advice to that group.
Dr. Tara Scott: Well, I think the advice I would give, maybe, is two things. One is the way that it ended up happening for me, I had the opportunity to do both at the same time and, although it was hard, it was really a lot easier for me because I had a constant stream of patients to draw from. I didn’t really have to work that hard to get the new first patients in the door because they already knew me. I’ve been in practice over 20 years so they knew me as their gynecologist, I delivered their babies. So for those doctors that are mainstream medicine, they have that subset. Whether you’re a chiropractor or whether you’re an MD or whatever discipline you are, you already have that subset to draw on and to be able to work a couple days a week slowly building the practice I didn’t have to go in a lot of debt to have empty schedules or anything like that because I still had my day job.
So I actually think although it’s hard to do it that way, it made it a little bit easier for me to make that transition. And so I did it over like probably two or three years and then once I jumped in with both feet it was still scary to kind of abandon my way, and there was actually days that I think it’s easier just to deliver babies, you know, and I don’t have to think and I don’t have to do all this trying to get patients and look at schedules and look at PNL sheets and all this stuff that I didn’t know how to do. But I think that what’s been really great about the Practice Accelerator group and the Facebook group and the accountability group is that there is that peer-to-peer support and people told me when I was coming off insurance, “Oh, it will be okay. They’ll come.” And I was so nervous and I would worry about it, and it has been okay. I mean, other people before me have done it and so I think that has been really helpful for me.
So, if you’re unsure of what to do and if you’re unsure of this kind of medicine I think that you just need to embrace it because the excitement that has been with the acceleration of functional medicine across the US in the last few years and with everything that Evo Med has done, it’s really great to be in the forefront of functional medicine, having been done it. So if you’re on the fringes and you’re not sure, I would dive in because this is the future of medicine and it is gonna be the way that we’re gonna help with the healthcare in our country.
James Maskell: Beautiful. Well said and thank you so much for sharing that and you’re totally right and I totally agree here. I guess one more person that I just wanted to acknowledge here for a moment is Nicole because Nicole, I don’t know if you know this, but Nicole was the first person ever to buy a ticket for the first ever Functional Forum that Gabe and I put on, and she came int the company really at the lowest level. She was just wanting to get involved and she’s really found her strides as the person who organizes these accountability groups.
So, I don’t know if you have anything that you’d like to share on that end because I’m sure there are many practitioners out there that see that many of their patients struggle with accountability and then realize that they could probably do with some accountability themselves and what difference it makes to have that.
Dr. Tara Scott: I can’t thank Nicole enough for everything that she’s done for me personally and for our accountability group, and I have no idea how she’s able to do that for so many groups. I mean, I don’t know how she does it with her time and working for a couple different companies, but I think what she really did is, with her business mind, she was able to succinctly summarize here’s what you need to do, and what I was missing was a call to action. What I was missing was the next step. I mean, I had all these grand ideas of how to educate people but that’s all I would do is educate them. There would be no call to action. There would be no follow up.
So, with my events she really solidified that you gotta get the autoresponder, you gotta follow up after the event, you gotta have an ask because I wasn’t doing that. So I’ve been lecturing for five or six years in the community but with no follow up. No ask. So she turned it in a way that’s actionable. Being a part of the accountability and where I meet, it’s in the middle of the day, so it’s really not convenient but I actually schedule everything around it and look forward to it because it does keep you on task and does keep you going and it’s like my own little private business coach.
So I can’t say enough about, if anybody is thinking about getting in an accountability group, how much I think it’s really helped everyone in our group and specifically for me.
James Maskell: Beautiful. Well thank you for sharing that. I just really wanted to bring that forward because ultimately we’re developing a team of leaders here at the Functional Forum; Uli and Nicole and Anne and Gabe and Drew and everyone that’s here. It’s about providing the right leadership in the right area. Anne’s done an incredible job to facilitate the development of 500 meet up groups, Nicole works with her on that, and Uli is the Chief Marketing Technologist, and Gabe in really bringing together an incredible organization and having the internal organization gel. It’s such a pleasure to be part of and I can see that it is making that big difference and that us, with what we’re doing, and with you as the practitioners on the ground, you know, this is the beginning of a grassroots movement that will transform medicine. That is transforming medicine and I’m just really excited to be part of it.
So if you want to find more about the Practice Accelerator or to join in our next intake go to goevomed.com/brochure. As part of the training, we teach you how to do a movie night; we’ve had 100s of doctors do it. You can tell it’s had a range of impact depending on how you execute but you can see that this is something that’s very, very exciting when you get it right.
To everyone who’s listening, this is the beginning of what we’re up to and you can see that by making it easy for organizations businesses have the biggest incentive to cut costs of their employees and get people off medication and get people well. And that’s why they’re super exciting to work with and I look forward to hearing how the conversations go with FedEx and thank you so much for being a leader in our community. Thanks for all you do in the Practice Accelerator.
And everyone at home, thank you much for listening. The one thing about initiative is that it can only be taken, it can’t be given. So if you’re out there and you feel like you wanna be part of the movement and you wanna participate in helping move the movement forward in your area, you can sign up for the kNew Vision Tour at goevomed.com/tour. You can join the Practice Accelerator, you can do a movie night, and we’re really, really excited to bring all these pieces together.
So, thank you Dr. Scott for being part of the Accelerator and part of the podcast.
Dr. Tara Scott: Thank you for your time.
James Maskell: So this is the Functional Forum podcast. I’m your host James Maskell. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
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