Transcript: Episode 10- Interview with Infusion Veteran, Judy Black
Dylan: WeInfuse podcast episode, number 10, welcome to the WeInfuse podcast. My
name is Dylan McCabe. And each week we give you a behind the scenes look at the
infusion practice because we talk with infusion practices all over the US and we
interview people in the infusion industry, whether nurses, providers, consultants,
business, people, and everything in between, so that we can give you tips, tactics and a
roadmap to streamline and simplify your own practice. We like to say, we take the
confusion out of infusion, and I’m excited about this interview because it’s with Judy
Back and she’s on our client success team here at WeInfuse. But Judy has been in the
infusion space since the mid-80s, she’s been an infusion nurse. She has been in
medical device sales. She has been involved in doctor’s offices, hospitals. She’s been
involved in nurses’ education for years.
She really is an expert when it comes to how to streamline the infusion practice, how to
really focus on patients, how to make everything patient centric, because you and I both
know that it’s really easy to make this all about the numbers and the concerns and the
practice, but Judy just does a great job of bringing it back to what it’s really all about,
and that is taking the best care possible of the patient. Getting patient access for these
incredible life-changing therapies that are made possible through infusion so let’s jump
right in with the interview with Judy here we go.
All right, welcome again. And like I mentioned, we have a special guest on today and
her name is Judy Back. And, Judy, thank you for being on the show today.
Judy: Thank you for having me Dylan.
Dylan: And the cool thing about Judy is she has been involved in the infusion practice
since the eighties. She’s got a lot of experience. She’s had different experience in
different medical contexts, all over the US from medical devices to infusion therapy from
nursing homes to doctor’s offices, to hospitals she’s really seen a lot. And so it’s really
neat to have her, and she’s also on the WeInfuse team, which is really exciting. So
Judy, before we jump into my kind of standard list of questions I guess, just share some
highlights about your background and what led to this point.
Judy: Okay. Well, in 1985, I graduated with my bachelors of nursing at UTA and started
just doing general nursing, mainly in emergency rooms. And then I learned real quickly
that I love Ivy therapy and I wanted to get better at it. And so my preceptor, I said, how
can I learn to really do a good job? And she said do it just make it happen. And so she
said, okay, well, if you want to do that, then you’re going to start all the Ivies today in the
emergency room. Well kind of scared me a little bit. And I said, well, what if I miss? And
she said, well, just do it over again. You’ll get it. And after about three weeks, I thought I
was an expert.
Dylan: Oh, wow.
Judy: But it is true. The more you do it, the better you get. And it’s one of those like ride
your bicycle and you’ll get it. And then I just progressed from working in hospitals and
supervisory positions. And I was always the one they came to, and then I needed an IV
because I just never had trouble. I guess it was a gift from God. I always pray before I
start one, Oh God, please help me. Cause I don’t want to hurt the person. But so, fast
forward to 2001, I went to work for a man by the name of Robert Norris at his home
health company in Arlington, as his infusion director. He wanted to start an infusion
program during that tenure or that little bit of time there, I kind of had an idea that a
friend of mine in Abilene was doing. And I said Mr. Norris, would you like to hear about
And because he’s quite an entrepreneur, he said, yea can you come over to my office
right now? I want to hear about it. So in all of that, by December of that year, we had
formed a company called innovative infusions. And that was a management company
that went into our doctor’s offices and started there. I started in the infusion center for
them. It was early on when biologics just began to come out. And, so at that time we
were also doing antibiotics. So that meant I had to have nurses around the clock or
seven days a week, because how can you take an order from a doctor for seven days of
Rocephin and not stay open on Saturdays and Sunday? So we had to open. So we had
quite a crew and it was our very first one was in Cedar Hill, Texas. And then it grew
from there to Arlington and then from there to North Richland Hills.
And before it, we just had a bunch of infusion centers that we were managing all over
Texas. And so, and they were extremely successful, some more than others. But the
one thing that we had a problem with is we were doing everything on paper, everything
from the nurse’s notes to keeping up with our inventory, to keeping up with the billing
that we were doing in our office actually did the billing for that for the physicians. So
everything was on paper. Our nurses did all the authorizations, the verifications, at first,
and they had a hard time keeping up with it. And, at the time, our, what is currently now,
our CEO of WeInfuse worked for us, Brian Johnson. And I said, Brian, you’re a
computer guy, build us something that will take all this trouble out of my head and keep
up with this better.
Because we were sometimes losing track and, I had a nurse one time that had stuffed
$20,000 worth of Remicade in the back of a refrigerator and didn’t rotate it and it had
expired. And so what a tragedy and from that WeInfuse was born over time, because
we knew we had to have a way to keep up with things. And so, I love working for
WeInfuse because I know that the customer’s best interest is at their heart. That’s why
we want to see the customer and be successful. And how can you be successful if you
don’t have a program that really works and WeInfuse works, and it’s getting better and
better every day they add something new to it. So I’m proud to say that I can impart my
knowledge to the infusion centers that we go into. And my job is to go out on the
implementation team and teach and get them going so, fast forward that far, I mean,
that’s where we are today.
Dylan: That’s so neat. And I love it. And for those listening, if, if you didn’t pick up on
that, Robert Norris is actually Reese Norris’s dad. So the founders of WeInfuse Reese
Norris and Brian Johnson, obviously Judy Back, who’s sitting across from me now in our
studio, had a large role to play in the birth of this business idea and, and Robert Norris
also did as well. And so this has all been quite a story and quite a progression of events
as the company has really evolved over time. And it’s neat to hear your background and
also obviously your heart for customer success. And so your role today, you really own
our, what do we call our customer success team? Isn’t that what we call it?
Judy: Client success
Dylan: Client success Okay. And so your role, tell our listeners a little bit about your
role. What happens when somebody signs up with WeInfuse? What role do you play in
Dylan: Well, I’m on the implementation team also. So Nick is one of our client success
engineers and he and I together go in and I asked the customer a lot of questions first
about their practice and how they currently are utilizing their infusion center. And then
we build, WeInfuse around that to help them come up with a better solution for keeping
up with their infusion center. So it starts with this questions. Then we go into training, we
have some, very good video, training videos that we ask them to look at. And then we
do, either in person or webinar training, for them to get started with wind views. And it,
texts a little bit of time there’s a lot to it. So we try to focus on whoever’s going to do
what job and really make sure that they understand that they’re rolling within WeInfuse
Sometimes it’s nothing but the nurse and we teach the nurse everything. Sometimes
they have a front office that takes care of some of the, the beginning parts of it. So if
they’ve already used an EMR sometimes, it’s a little bit hard to wean them off, on to
what we do. But we try to not get it. WeInfuse is really simple. It’s not complex. And, in
fact, I just left an implementation where the nurse showed me. She said, we’re so glad
to have WeInfuse because what we had before is so confusing and you’ve got to go so
many places for so many things. And she said, WeInfuse just has it right here. So I was
really glad that we were able to help, but change is not easy. And so that’s one of my
jobs is to make change as seamless and as painless as we can.
Dylan: So let’s talk about that for a minute because one of the questions I like to ask is
what is your main area of expertise? And it’s pretty clear that yours is training coming
into a practice, asking a lot of questions to figure out where their challenges are. Their
pain points are where there’s gaps in the process, and then being, being a part of that
solution. So what’s one big thing you would want our listeners to know from your area of
expertise, because you’ve seen a lot of different infusion practices, big and small,
successful, and unsuccessful? What’s one big lesson you would want our listeners to
learn from what you’ve seen as you’ve gone into these practices.
Judy: Well, for sure that the training is extremely important. And sometimes it’s hard for
me as a knowledgeable infusion nurse to go in and see gaps in their infusion and keep
my mouth shut. That’s hard for me, but I try to impart my knowledge on them and give
them ideas that can make them successful. And so education is probably the biggest
thing. I never wanted to be a teacher in an elementary school or a high school. I just
didn’t think I could do that. But when I became a nurse, I realized nursing is all about
education. It’s all about imparting your knowledge that you’ve gained over time to the
new person. Whether that new person is older are, if they’re just new to, actually
infusion. And I see some things that I would change if I had my way in some of the
practices, but, just imparting the knowledge that might help them become successful, is
exciting. And, and I think that’s probably my mo. is, is education.
Dylan: That’s so good. Yeah. And like you said, it’s, it’s hard to go into a practice
knowing what and having seen so much in most of these practices, they lived in their
own small world of how they do things. And I went to a big practice in Pennsylvania this
week and we met for two and a half hours and went through how they did everything
from intake to their benefits investigation process, to their scheduling, to their charting,
to their inventory management. And at the end of it all they said. So, you talked to a lot
of practices every week. How do we stack up? And I had to respond and say, listen I’m
not here to throw stones at anybody. I’m not here to make anybody look bad, but here’s
where there’s some parts of your process that are broken.
They’re really broken. And you guys are flirting with disaster in a couple of areas. And I
say that to help you, we want to, our goal that WeInfuse is to be much more than a
software company. We want to come alongside you and to help, help you simplify, help
you streamline, help you maximize your process. So you can take care of patients really
well, but so you can also be successful as a business. And that’s what we have to do.
And you kind of have to do a dance. You have to be smooth about it and smart about it
and caring about it because you don’t want somebody to feel bad when they’ve worked
really hard to develop a process that they’ve worked on maybe for months or even
years. And then you come in and say, you missed a few major details over here.
Judy: Well, and Dylan, you know that one of the things that we all have to remember is
the number one thing we’re looking out for is the patient. As a nurse, that’s preached
into our head in our education processes becoming a nurse, it doesn’t matter when it all
comes down to the end result, it’s the patient that we’re looking out for, not our
business. Although we do have to really be careful about it, because if we’re not careful
with that, we’ll, we won’t be there for the patient. But we have to remember that the
ultimate goal is to get that patient, the treatment that they need and deserve and have
been prescribed for them correctly and all. And WeInfuse does a great job of keeping up
with what number one the insurance company has allowed them to do and keeping up
with dates because dates are important.
If WeInfuse too early, we might not get paid. And we don’t want that. We want, that was
one of our pain points in innovative infusion is sometimes we got those dates mixed up.
We saw the patient, nurses are notorious. Very, if you got them in the chair, we’re going
to infuse them. We’re going to stick them and we’re going to give them the medicine. So
we don’t let them get that far with WeInfuse. We just don’t let them even get on the
schedule unless the date is correct. And so, to me, that is so exciting to know that we’ve
got that, we’ve, we’re taking that issue and wrapping up in a little package in WeInfuse
and preventing that. Now, sometimes people get frustrated because, well, I want to put
them on the schedule, but look at your date. You don’t want to put him on the schedule.
You might really think you want to put them on the schedule, but you really don’t until
you’ve got an authorization to say you can,
Dylan: Right? You don’t want to schedule them even a day early before that
authorization approval, then
Judy: absolutely not.
Dylan: Well, let’s, let’s switch gears with all that you’ve seen in the infusion practices
and the experience that you’ve had, what’s a consistent challenge that you see these
practices deal with on a, on a weekly basis. Cause you’ve seen a lot of different infusion
practices. What’s one pain point that tends to stick out the most?
Judy: Probably those authorization dates and inventory. Inventory is a huge thing in the
infusion world. Of course, we all know that the very best way financially to get ahead is
to buy and bill, but doctors are scared to buy and bill, because they’ve been bitten by
buying too much, not enough, the patient gets there and you don’t have their drug there
because somebody forgot to order it or it is not taken care of correctly. And it ends up
expiring before you use it. And inventory’s expensive, especially today in today’s world
with the biologics. So you gotta be really careful. So with WeInfuse, that’s all taken care
of, literally, the system tells you exactly what vial to pick up and use that day. And when
we first start teaching that sometimes nurses go, well, that’s ridiculous. I’m just going to
go get the vial I want.
No, you’re going to get the vial that has the right lot and right expiration that WeInfuse,
told you to get, because that’s what’s going to rotate your drugs and keep them from
expiring. So that is a big thing. Knowing what you have in inventory, how many dollars
you have there. And our system allows you to see that the exact dollar figure that’s
pretty sobering sometimes/. When you think you might have $200,000 sitting in your
refrigerator. And so it does help you to sober up, so to speak in your knowledge of, yes,
I do have that much in there. Then WeInfuse doesn’t want you to buy what you don’t
need. So if you, if the system will tell you, yes, you need five vials of Remicade for and
through the next week are five vials of whatever. And it does that by having the patient
on the schedule and the system knows exactly how many vials that patient’s going to
get. So you don’t overbuy, but you make sure you have enough. And so of course,
buying and billing, and then we have another section which is specialty pharmacy. So if
your insurance company says, yes, you must buy it through Alliance or CVS, then we
have a way to keep up with that. So when it does come into the infusion center, it’s
documented as that patient’s drug for that particular, infusion time.
Dylan: it’s so good. And I, I really do like showing our inventory system as well and kind
of showing it off because it’s so automated and keeps on top of all this. So what’s an
example of it? Like, so I’m at a practice I met with a practice recently and they don’t
have an inventory management system. They don’t have a spreadsheet and notebook,
nothing there, their inventory management system is we order, they say, we, they would
say, we order based on who’s coming on the schedule, we look at the schedule and we
order exactly those drugs on a weekly basis. And then I said, okay, but how do you
account for when you order those vials? And they come in, how do you know exactly
which ones came in, how big the vials are, what size in DC law, all that, do you write
any of this down?
And they said, no, we, we look at it and we compare it against the calendar, what we
need. And I said, okay, let me just, so I understand correctly, you’re saying when you
get, $50,000, $100,000 worth of vials in your inventory management system is to look at
them with your eyes and then look at the calendar with your eyes. And you’re literally
not writing a single thing down or putting a single thing. Yep. That’s how we do it. And
we’ve never had a problem. And I said, and I told them, you’re flirting disaster, you’re
flirting disaster. But their defense was, and it makes sense. We’ve never had an issue
with this. And I said, well, you’re going to, and whether it’s three months from now or six
months from now, we’re going to be talking about it.
And I told them whether you guys use WeInfuse or not. Obviously I think it’s the best
system out there, but you guys have to get something, whether it’s an Excel
spreadsheet or some way to track all of this, because my mind is thinking somebody
could, like, you mentioned, vials could get pushed to the back. Even if you might get an
extra vial or you might be missing a vial somebody could steal. I mean, you hate to think
that, but somebody could. I mean, you got a $10,000 vial on hand or an $800 vial on
hand. And so what do you think could be some things that could go wrong with an
inventory management system?
Judy: One of the big things is if it’s a weight-based drug, what if you have the exact
number of vials you need for that, but you, they come in and they’ve gained 10 pounds
from their last infusion. So they require an extra vial and you don’t have it. So our
system has a par level that they can establish on drugs that are weight-based drugs.
We really recommend a small par level. Doesn’t have to be big, but that you have five or
10 extra vials just in case of that
Dylan: For those higher volume drugs.
Judy: And so, so you’re able to track it like that. So, so you could pick one, an extra
vile, if you need to, for that, that patients extra, that they might need,
Dylan: Then that goes back to your initial thing. So you can take care of that patient that
day. It’s a patient focused strategy. That’s good, that’s a good point. Well let’s share
another story, with what you’ve experienced so far in the infusion practice, what’s,
what’s a big light bulb moment you’ve had, whether it’s about patients or it’s about
processes or whatever, just what’s one big thing that kinda guide you on a daily basis in
Judy: Well, Dylan it goes back to my initial talking to Mr. Norris when I first started and I
had a friend in Abilene, Texas, that was doing this. And, I said, I think, I think we can do
this. And I think it’s going to be a huge benefit for patients that don’t need to be in the
hospital. And Mr. Norris said I’m one of them. I had an injury to an elbow and it was
infected. And the doctor put me in the hospital for seven days on Rocephin. I didn’t need
to be in a hospital. All I needed was the Rocephin, but at that time there was no way to
get it except go into the hospital. So it was a very painful time for him to just sit there
while he was getting his Rocephin. So I said, well, that’s the prime example on how we
can help set these practices up with an infusion center and physicians can manage that
as, as clinically manage it. Our nurses can give it and the patient gets to sleep in their
bed at night. How awesome is that?
And so really that was so early, that was before very many biologics were out at all. In
fact, I believe Remicade was the very first biologic we ever gave. We were doing a lot of
antibiotics and, and making fluids people would be dehydrated. And, we would give
them a bag of fluid. And a lot of it was coming from the practice that we were in. The
doctor was seeing patients rather than send them to the hospital. He put them in the
infusion center. And so our nurses would take care of them, make sure that they were
back on their feet and they got to sleep in their bed so talk about a moment and it still
exists today where a patient doesn’t have to go in the hospital to get these things.
And hospitals don’t want those patients anyway. They really don’t they sometimes
think they did, but they’re not great revenue generators. And so, but the patient’s happy
they’re right there. They know there’s a physician present at our nurse practitioner. And
if they, if something happens, we’ve got a backup. And so it’s, it’s golden. It’s like the
best of the best where you can go get your drug and still go home. I have a really good
friend that came down with CIDP, which is a neurological disease, and they have to
have IVIG. And I was able to talk to her about a physician that I knew that did that
literally from having almost a walker, needing a walker to get around from totally no
Walker now and going about her business. She and her husband did a lot of traveling
now they’re back to traveling because she was able to go into that infusion center every
three weeks, get her IVIG and it has turned that disease process around.
Dylan: That’s awesome.
Judy: It’s the best, it’s just the best. And it’s, and so, but all those things cost money
they cost time. They have, you must have expertise. And so having, WeInfuse as a part
of all that and helping to manage that process is what re that’s what WeInfuse really
does is manages a process from the patient’s, insurance, the patient’s, treatment note,
the patient’s inventory, the patient’s schedule. It does all of that and does it really well?
Dylan: Yea I know it’s nice to come into a practice and just keep thinking of the one I
met with most recently, and these nurses turned into project managers with these
patients in the infusion practice, because there’s so many moving parts. There’s a
process that can take weeks at a time and you have to follow up, check up on details
and keep the process going. And, and I get excited knowing that WeInfuse in this, we’re
not trying to totally just promote WeInfuse on this podcast, but it’s true. It’s nice to come
in there and say, hey, we can simplify a very complex process and enable you to relax a
little bit and focus more on the clinical part of why you really got into all this. And that is,
that is exciting. So well, there’s so much we could, I mean, we could talk for hours about
your experience and all the, all the things that are going on in infusion. What would you
say is one kind of last parting piece of advice for our listeners?
Judy: Keep on infusing. Don’t give up because you’re making a difference in the
patient’s lives. There was a time that I did some work for an oncology device company.
And, so I had an opportunity to go into oncology centers and of course that’s where lots
of lives are being changed in that. And I think that’s great. but I love this part of it where
it’s maybe not quite as intense in the therapy, but yet we know we’re making a
difference in patient’s lives from something like my friend has the neurological disease
and, and MS is a big one. We have a new drug we’re given for MS. And I’m just a part
of all that. And I see it every day and now there’s a new, potentially new Alzheimer’s
drug. That’s going to come out.
That’s an infusion drug that boy, when that comes out, it’s going to bust it wide open,
and infusion centers are going to be a part of that, just like they are with patients that
have crones are rheumatoid arthritis or any of those real, autoimmune diseases that
biologics can make a huge difference for. It’s exciting to see the progression of the
patient. And I get to see that even though my job is to get WeInfuse into these practices,
but I get to see that because I’m right there with the patient. So I get to enjoy that. and
the nurses always telling me this is a patient that came in and all the, all the history of
that patient and how well they’re doing, they share that with me just cause I’m a nurse
so that’s exciting for me to be able to see that
Dylan: That is, I love that keep, keep infusing as Judy’s parting advice. And it is
amazing. It’s amazing to see how people’s lives are changed and they get their freedom
back. They get their freedom to do the kinds of things they want to do. And it’s so good
and so anyway, thank you so much for being on the program, Judy, and, and your
experience, and obviously your influence in your heart here at WeInfuse. I love working
with you. And so it’s been great to have you on the podcast.
Judy: Thank you, Dylan.
Dylan: All right. That sums up our interview with Judy and I love what she said when I
asked her what’s one parting piece of advice, and she said, keep infusing. And I’ve
heard wonderful stories about how patients’ lives have been changed through infusion
therapy, but you know what? You can’t keep infusing very well. If you don’t have
processes in place that streamline the whole benefits investigation process, the
scheduling billing, and then the ability for the nurse to chart in a way that’s fast and
easy, but also very effective. And that’s what WeInfuse offers. So if you haven’t done so
yet, be sure to go to WeInfuse.com and request a demo. If you haven’t seen our
software in its full glory, you will be impressed because it really just makes your life
easier. It helps to automate some parts of the process, but really it’s just designed to
help manage that overall workflow from beginning to end, when it comes to the AIC, the
ambulatory infusion center or the provider office that also does infusions or whatever
the case may be.
If you have an infusion practice you need, WeInfuse. So be sure to check us out.
WeInfuse.com, schedule your demo today and see for yourself. I think you’ll be glad you
did. If you guys have any questions or you have any major issues that you are
challenged by, and you’d like to hear about in future podcasts, be sure to ask us,
mention it on our Facebook page, go to Facebook and do a search for WeInfuse inside
of Facebook. Be sure to make a comment on our Facebook page. We’d love to interact
with you there. And we also have a LinkedIn group, a closed LinkedIn group for people
involved in the infusion space. Be sure to search for that group and join the dialogue
there as well. Guys, this has been exciting to be with you on this journey. My name is
Dylan McCabe, and we will catch you in the next episode.