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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Pharmacy Leadership Interviews


May 7, 2018

Dr. Samm Andregg is the Founder and CEO of DocStation, which is a software platform for healthcare teams, which enables pharmacists to provide value based care to patients. Samm graduated from the University Of Iowa College Of Pharmacy where he received his Pharm.D and went on to complete a PGY1&2 and combined master’s degree program specializing in Health-System Pharmacy Administration at the University of Kansas. He worked in an oncology unit at August University Health System in Georgia, where he felt unfulfilled and wanted to explore new options. He always had a love for information technology, being that he is a part of the Pharmacy Health information Technology (HIT) collaborative, he knew he wanted to integrate when he learned in residency, with technology. He then left his roll at Augusta, to pursue his own business. He was hesitant at first being that he had no entrepreneurial experience, but Samm has now made a ground breaking healthcare technology consulting company, DocStation.

https://docstation.co/

Full Transcript:

welcome to the pharmacy leaders podcast
with your host Tony Guerra the pharmacy
leaders podcast is a member of the
pharmacy podcast network with interviews
and advice from building your
professional network brand and a
purposeful second income from students
residents and innovative professionals
hello everyone my name is Ahmed Ahmed
and I'm a third year pharmacy student
from the University of Iowa and today
I'll be interviewing Sam and Erick
who's a pharmacist that graduate from
the University of Iowa College of
Pharmacy and also he completed a
residency at PGI one and two which it
was a Health Administration residency
and today we're gonna be talking about
his company dock station which he
founded and he is the current CEO of so
Sam how are you doing
doing great man thank for having me on
yeah of course of course and so we're
just gonna start by asking you what was
your aha moment or when did you actually
start your business great question
I feel like it is after it's about two
years into my first job I graduated
pharmacy school done two years of
residency and was managing several
things in academic medical center and I
was you know but outside looking in
performing really well but I wasn't
fulfilled or satisfied I was you know
really actually depressed and I didn't
know why and so I took that time to
really interview at one place and ask
myself some really tough questions what
is it that I what do they want to do and
took me some time but I sorted through
some things and you know really looked
up you know software and how to get
started and literally google-searched
how to start a start-up and there are
some really great from Stanford
University to be honest and it's one of
these things where you know you have to
see what other people are going through
and what other people do to do what you
want to do if that makes sense and I
realize these people talking about the
startup and pitching their ideas were no
different than you and I you know
they're regular people they're not
superhuman they got started somehow and
really that's what you know flip the
switch in my head to say hey I can do
this too
that's that's fantastic and when you
first started this this dock station
platform or just you know your entire
your own company what was your mission
at the outset of it your initial goal
sure
my goal was you know I worked with so
many great colleagues you know working
directly with patients I know the type
of value that pharmacists can provide to
patients and I know there's there's
value in that it's about having the data
to justify that and I knew we didn't
have a good software system or a good
mechanism to do that at all so at the
outset I wanted to create a tool that
allowed pharmacists to you know get paid
to spend time with patients actually it
should be overall value to the
healthcare system we just needed
something to measure that so that was my
you know my initial goal on the outset
but you know it's evolved into something
very different it will be involving into
something very different and we're
excited about that as well on a larger
scale that's awesome that is great and
just to kind of expand from that so I
was actually on this carrier chat about
a week ago or a week or two ago
and we talked about the accessibility to
pharmacists and there's an issue
currently with and this chat included
physicians pharmacists and different
health care providers and the big issue
that the physicians had were they still
believe that pharmacists role in the
healthcare system or the healthcare
continuum is dispensing so I didn't
understand how they have how can they
become pharmacies become accessible or
they don't they're not really sure how
to reach out to pharmacists so does your
platform have any any way to connect a
pharmacist and physician maybe yeah I
mean that's a very good point a lot of
the people that we talked to that may
maybe aren't directly involved in
healthcare or or haven't had the
experience that maybe a pharmacist has
had don't really get it either so what
you realize is that there are pockets of
really great collaboration between
pharmacists and physicians and those
things have been developed over time you
know working together working alongside
one another you know a pharmacist
sending interventions to a physician's
now you look at the people like Randy
McDonagh bad town Chris and I was City
those guys have been faxing
recommendations for over ten years and
it just takes a while to establish that
so how do we get there a little bit
quicker and I think it goes back to you
know pharmacists aren't motivated or
incentivize financially to spend any
time doing these activities reaching out
to physicians you know they're still
paid to count the pills and that's why I
think that outside community even you
know the medical community sees us as
dispensers and so how do we change that
to allow pharmacists to you know make it
their job to go out and establish
relationships with prescribers and and
build build their role on an integrated
care team so to speak in the primary
care setting so I think that's you know
one of the main issue and we're
definitely working on you know
technology that will facilitate that
communication you know completely
bypassing the fax machine and let's make
a little bit more modern more easy for
everyone so that's definitely something
that's a priority for us that's
fantastic yeah and so in terms of just
your transition between working as a you
were a manager at a hospital as a
pharmacy type manager was that your role
before dock station you have amazed
about 18 FTEs and you know oncology
service line and inventory care and
specialty pharmacy Wow so what did it
take for you to say okay I'm gonna leave
this normal revenue stream behind and
allow myself to take on this business
like put all my eggs into this one
basket man it was you know because
because you work this entire period of
your life you know you know six to eight
years getting your pharmacy degree two
years residency and you get to this
position and I think you know my mindset
at the time was you know being
successful as being a chief pharmacists
officer being a director of pharmacy and
that's what a lot of my you know my
peers believed too about them after they
graduate you know administrative
residency and you know I just kept
thinking like okay what is my life look
like in ten years and one of the actual
activities I'll be doing on a day-to-day
basis and you know I just I couldn't I
couldn't do it I couldn't visualize I
couldn't visualize myself as happy in
that type of position and I think that
was the that was the turning point and
just talking to a lot of friends and
family and you know especially the
people that are closest to me it came
down to you know I knew I had an
opportunity to be here and I never
wanted to wake up down the road and say
man I wish I would have tried that you
know that would've been really cool if I
would have done that
and that was the trigger you know and I
put the encouragement of others I you
know and just went out there jumped off
the cliff now there it wasn't it wasn't
a complete total 100% risk now and and
maybe I can fill you and some of that
too like a transition if someone wanted
to get into that but you know we'll go
whatever direction you'd like gotcha
well actually that that actually be
pretty cool to know just how exactly
because most people like when I was
quite I spoke to other people we're
entrepreneurs or people who kind of do
similar things they all said it was just
like okay that's it I know this is what
I want to do I'm just gonna risk it all
so it was kind of here so you have a
something to fall back on or yeah man it
mean it's not that simple of just making
a decision and going right because as I
feel like you know as pharmacists we're
pretty conservative folks oh yeah even
the people that I'm trying to recruit
now who are who are in pharmacy still
you know number one you gotta convince
them that you know what their what their
life plan that they that they had that
they have had for a while is is gonna
change and that's okay but number two is
just like joining a start-up like that
seems pretty risky right but the thing
is is that you know I I did my best to
mitigate my risk and you know I'd
started working and making sure that the
start thing was what I wanted to do
while I was working full-time until I
get to the point where you know it just
wasn't feasible you know I was putting
in eighty ninety a hundred hours a week
like staying up so late just trying to
do the work on top of the regular
full-time job and you know just got to a
point
like this isn't sustainable you know I
got to do something different so I've
been doing some contract work some
consultant work and in health care
technology health IT developing data
sets and standards and I could do that
work on my own time
hourly and I found a way to essentially
get get paid enough money by doing about
20 hours a week of work that is just
gonna cover the bills you know it's not
gonna you know drain my bank account
from low where it was zero I'm just
gonna be running out of time you got to
have some you got to have a little bit
of flexibility in there to to figure out
exactly how you're gonna build a
business that's what you want to do and
so I found a way to cover the bills you
know I you know didn't have a whole lot
of money coming in at all you just got a
you know eats ramen noodles or go back
to the colony luckily I wasn't too far
out Wow and when you do that it gives
you some times to marinate on it and
really work hard and make contacts and
and and learn what it is that you need
to do to start a business and I knew
above all like if if all this crashed
and burned
I still had my pharmacy degree you know
I've got my license so I can turn around
and go to an independent pharmacy and
and you know get a paycheck if I really
wanted to that was obvious last resort
but you know I knew that I had that you
know plan being plan sees some people
tell you never have a plan B always have
a plan a well that was definitely my
mindset that I knew and I knew I needed
something to fall back on
so you know and default until my lungs
right exactly
Wow no that's that's honestly that's
that's really amazing that you just kind
of you said you were working basically a
full-time job and on top of that you
were working on starting up this
business at first when you first
initiated 80 to 90 hours and that's
that's what you know that you it's it's
what you want to do yeah and that's some
of the first advice I give to people
that want to like get into
entrepreneurship and businesses you
gotta love it
you have to love the work because if you
don't you're more miserable than
are currently your your your current job
you know what I mean I mean you really
gotta love it because it's gonna be hard
oh yeah absolutely and Sam you is just
because you told me when you when you
first started out after residency and
you were working just you didn't feel
fulfilled but ever since
so now that you've started dock station
and it's doing pretty well so far and
things are looking good just do you feel
like you have you feel like it's been
significantly more fulfilling to be a
business owner in the field of
pharmacies as opposed to walking the
typical path of just community hospital
just what you think of a typical
pharmacist does yeah man I would say
most definitely I'm much more fulfilled
than I think I could have ever been
working in the hospital setting or or
even community setting and the reason
for that is because you know when you're
working for an organization you have a
lot of freedom you know the job that I
was and I had a lot of freedom to you
know pick the projects that I thought
were going to be most beneficial to the
hospital and and to the patients we
served but you're usually met with some
sort of barrier or you know red tape or
something that you know is not there on
purpose to debug you it's just there
because that's the way that it is
there's layers right and you and I
figured out that the only way to really
make the change that I knew I wanted to
see was to you know do it on my own you
know I try to convincing so many
different people this is a good idea but
you know couldn't get the resources
couldn't get the you know the the
approval to do so couldn't get it didn't
have the time to to work on it and so
you know when you when you have
something in mind and efficient that you
want to you know accomplish sometimes
the only way to do it is under your own
auspices and in starting out and start
your own company and so they that's what
it came down to mm-hmm so you kind of
gathered the resources on your own type
of thing yeah yeah exactly
I had to figure it all out on my own I
knew nothing when I got started I'll
tell you that much
but you know you gotta you gotta jump in
with both feet and you learn things
along the way and absolutely absolutely
and Sam I do appreciate you just sharing
kind of your story and how dock station
became rock station but just one last
question I wanted to ask you before we
let you go is that so a lot of people
right now in pharmacy school and there's
just we don't have much exposure to this
whole consulting idea or how can we make
these how can we be entrepreneurs we
don't were not experienced in this type
of field as pharmacists you said we just
kind of go through our clinical training
and we graduate and we just think
there's really two or three paths
industry which is pretty unlikely or
just hospital and community so for you
what would you say for people who are
aspiring who really love the idea of
consulting what would you say what would
you give what some advice you would give
all of us as students and just maybe
even pharmacist or just we just got out
and don't like what they're doing in the
community or Hospital yeah great
question I think number one it starts
with you
you know what what is it they interest
you and figure out you're like what
you're super niches you know your niche
might be you know pediatric pharmacists
but you might have a super niche where
you're really excited about you know
some sort of dosing on a certain drug
that just came out or you know if you're
in administration in the hospital maybe
it's like IV robotics right once you
once you have a niche then you can
become an expert and that prepares you
to go into some sort of consulting your
contract work later on so that's kind of
the first step you can get and get
started doing that as early as possible
you know but the biggest thing is just
finding mentors that are doing things
that interest you they're doing things a
little bit different right and there's a
whole bunch of alumni at at every
college of pharmacy that have gone a
non-traditional route you know and so
you know working with the faculty
working with yeah you know through
alumni events and just asking around you
know you know anyone that might be doing
some sort of work like this or like that
or
it started their own business or and
once you get to talking to those people
you know that when you realize that what
you want to do is not all that different
other people have done it before and you
know there's there can be a little bit
of a playbook right the guide line that
you can follow to get you set up to get
there and and more often than you know
these people you know people like myself
want to help people like you and others
who are interested in what we're doing
because it is different and it isn't too
lonely sometimes
mm-hm and we want to change the context
and instead of being like you know like
three-pronged opt-ins I image and maybe
there's a fourth prong maybe it's doing
your own thing and you know we're here
to help you however we can all right
that's awesome and you guys heard it
here anyone needs someone to talk to
about maybe starting up their own
business you can reach out to Sam and
Rick potentially all right and we do
appreciate your time today Sam and thank
you so much for everything
you met thank you man I'll talk to you
soon all right bye-bye
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