Episode 60

Virtual Solutions for Mental Health

with Nathaniel Hundt
Episode hosted by: Nathan Bays

March 14, 2023

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Nathaniel Hundt
Founder & CEO, Dr. Katz, Inc.

Nathaniel Hundt is the founder and CEO of Dr. Katz, Inc., a software company that has built a platform to connect mental health and education for better care. In early 2020, Nathaniel established a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Department in order to design and roll out the Dr. Katz solution, which includes courses, videos and validated measures that help providers easily monitor patients’ symptoms of anxiety, depression, and substance use in order to tailor and improve treatment.



What we're doing at Dr. Katz, is helping to get education into the hands of patients and caregivers about mental health issues.



Nathan Bays: Welcome everyone to Day Zero. I’m fortunate to be here today with with my friend Nate Hundt. Nate is the co-founder of Dr. Katz, which we’re going to talk about, but as just a wonderful background and career predating that, and very excited about the interview today. Nate, welcome to welcome to the show.

Nathaniel Hundt: Thanks for having me, Nathan.

Nathan Bays: Tell us a little bit, just, about, yourself to get started, where did you grow up what’d your parents do, where’d you go to school? Things like that.

Nathaniel Hundt: I’m a West Coast transplant. Like so many of us, I grew up on the east coast, outside of Washington, DC so not far from where you might be calling in from today. And I have a background in product management. And I spent the majority of my career spent seven years at a company called Workday out here in the in the San Francisco Bay area in the East Bay. Before that I worked in technology companies and in the public sector as well. and founded Dr. Katz in 2020. The name of the company is after my mom Betsy Katz, who is a clinical psychologist of 40 years, and really founded the company in order to make the lines of people like her easier and allow, or allows to. The people that are caring for so many of us, if we can do a good job of making the daily life of mental health providers easier, that we can do a lot to address the mental health crisis in this country.

Nathan Bays: So you grew up in the Washington area. Politics, policy, rules today in that town, tell me a little bit about, your early interest in, in technology. Did you always have an interest in technology? Did have an interest in politics or something else?

Nathaniel Hundt: There were a couple things that when I look back on, it actually helped me build and develop my interest in. Things that we’re working on today at Dr. Katz. The first is I worked on public education for America’s youth and Environmental Education. And we really built that up as a core part of what Secretary Salazar’s legacy and impact would be expanding the access to environmental education program. And then the second thing that I got involved in was the First Ladies Let’s Move Campaign, which was all about promoting healthy eating physical activity. And we thought about the public lands, that the interior department is the steward of those great places where these types of activities could be promoted. And then we also realize that we have an opportunity as the department that includes. Bureau of Indian Affairs to look at how we could address diabetes amongst the population of first year Akins. And so I got involved in that effort, which helped me understand the importance, again, of education and early childhood education in stemming chronic conditions amongst populations that are really in. And what we’re doing at Dr. Katz is really all about helping to get education into the hands of patients and caregivers about the mental health issues. And so I actually find myself looking back on those years in 2009, 2010, as early inspirations for the work that we’re pursuing.

Nathan Bays: That’s fantastic and. Workday was post posterior Clinton politic.

Nathaniel Hundt: I left of the interior department and I and I worked at Apple in a part of Apple. So at the time, Steve Jobs was was still alive. And and he had a vision for Making sure that people when he was gone would remember what makes Apple, apple. And he created an in-house university to teach Apple employees some of the life lessons and critical decisions. And so that was my that was my entree into the world of hr. And and then Workday was coming up at the time as a up and coming HR software. And so I was able to use my experience working in-house in a continuing education function to be able to to pivot into a into a formal role at an HR software company and. I would say that was a real eye-opener. And really the more I got close to product development, the more I realized that this is where my real passion was building software building solutions through technology.

Nathan Bays: Share with us a little bit about, when did the idea start forming that you wanted to build, Dr. Katz, you wanted to start your own, business, start your own company, when did that start forming? And talk a little bit about just the transition of, leaving Workday and actually taking the plunge and diving in on Dr. Katz.

Nathaniel Hundt: Really what I was interested in doing at the outset was take the things that, that I’d learned about enterprise software and learned about the. Challenges that large organizations were having. And then merge that with what I learned growing up about the challenges that individual mental healthcare providers were having and see what would come of combining those two sets of problems. And the way that I went about forming the company was to see whether there was an organization, a. A leading organization that would be interested in partnering on that journey with me on that learning experience to figure out what the exact problems are and where we could start out and what solutions we could deliver first. And as we talked more and more as the pandemic was really heightening, we realized that the opportunity to do this. Was now because the pandemic was changing people’s lives and it just meant that software was gonna be a much bigger part of providers lives and of patients expectations for the way their care would be delivered.

Nathan Bays: So talk a little bit about, if you had to describe, just for the listeners, what is Dr. Katz and what does the software do? Who is it helping? , what problems does it solve? Or what tasks, is it making easier?

Nathaniel Hundt: I say that it’s a technology solution that connects mental health and education for better care. And the people that we’re serving are the providers that work in healthcare systems and their patients. As well as caregivers. And we do three things as all good solutions do. Our three things are we allow providers to share information, critical information that is helpful in care journey with their patients. We focus on short form videos as the medium for that inform. Knowing that’s the way that so many people are communicating and taking in information and comprehending complex situations. So we’ve built up a library of short form videos that supplement the care experience, and we’ve been fortunate to work with more than 70 subject matter experts across the psychiatry department at Massachusetts General Hospital. Filled out this library and make it available for anyone that wants to use the platform. Our vision is to add more content to this platform in subject areas that, that patients are interested and that would be helpful for providers to be able to access this type of information in their practice. The second thing we do is we make it easy for providers. Adopt measurement based care. Mental health has been a specialization or an area that for a long time really hasn’t measured its results. But that’s changing and we are helping mental health providers, psychiatrists, psychologists, be able to embrace simple, straightforward rating scales and make it easy for them to assign those to their patients and be able to track. Over time we’ve heard from patients that’s really empowering to be able to see this information in a clear way and to be able to see where they’re making progress, where their symptoms are going down in, in severity over time. The third thing we do, based on the better understanding of a clinician’s area, of the clinicians area of practice, is we make it more easy for them to be able. Access continuing education, skill building courses and programs that help them get where they want to go in their career. And ultimately that’s something that organizations care a lot about as well as healthcare organizations are finding they need to constantly invest in their people and make sure their people are able to deliver the types of services that patients are.

Nathan Bays: Not to get too far into the weeds, and this will be the only in the weeds question I’ll try to ask, but when you think about building an enterprise, Software business in the early days, maybe just a little bit share with the audience. I, there’s a lot of, healthcare, focused individuals but not necessarily technology that, that listen to Z Day Zero. But I still think it would be interesting to talk a little bit about from an enterprise software getting startup perspective, how do you think about balancing, product. With, technical complexity and how do you think about with that anchor Farner, making sure they are invested and are, supportive of what you’re building, but also not going so far that it’s custom and boutique only to, only to apply to them.

Nathaniel Hundt: Another great question. There are two things that I try to do all the time. The first is on the design side, keep it simple. The more that we can keep things simple and streamlined and straightforward and try to match existing design patterns and standards that are in the internet today, and then have our experiences harness those. Design patterns the better. We don’t try to do anything flashy or cutting edge from a experience standpoint. We’re really trying to deliver an experience that people view as clean and modern, simple and straightforward. And then on the not getting too pitching, polled or narrowed in focus. What I try to do there is talk to a lot of people every day, every week and make sure that the perspectives that that we’re taking in are diverse and varied and cultivated extended network of advisors and friends and second opinions that that’s able to help guide us and focus on things that are broadly interesting and solve meaningful problem. For people that are in this industry.

Nathan Bays: How are you thinking about next stages of the company growth? Do you intend to be, health system focused continual on this next phase of growth? Will you look more broadly? Just tell us a little bit about, how worthy business is and how you’re thinking about the next couple years.

Nathaniel Hundt: Our focus is on users in making our provider users and our patient users successful in making this product. Really easy to use. And that’s number one for us. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We’re gonna make our our existing users really successful as we think about how we can do that. A part of it certainly is making sure that we’re bringing in additional health systems as partners in this journey because the collective feedback from from folks that are out assigned. Will actually only make the product experience better for both providers as well as patients. We think that finding partners that are affiliated with academic research institutions is the right tact for us to be following. It allows us to build a community of partners that really are passionate about best practices. Making sure that evidence-based solutions are propagated across their health systems as well as around the country and the.

Nathan Bays: Earlier in your remarks you mentioned. The timing, the founding of the company and the timing. 2020 you felt was a, the, the pandemic and just the accelerating mental health issues, mental health challenges that many were facing through that, and, are you seeing that prove out? Are you seeing, of a, an enhanced level of demand or a platform like your.

Nathaniel Hundt: We are mental health was at the leading edge of adoption of telemedicine pre pandemic and has been most successful in moving towards. Broad scale adoption during the pandemic and now post pandemic. But what we’re hearing is that it isn’t just virtual visits that people now expect as the first entry point into into a conversation with a psychiatrist or a psychologist. It’s actually that they expect all the things that surround that to also be a available to them virtually. Patient education, they expect that to be something that they can easily get access to. Being able to keep up with their measurements and being able to share feedback between visits after visit, before a visit with their provider to help make that time that they’re together over the video. More effective. All of those things are actually drivers of what we are all about. And and we certainly think that it’s starting with mental healthcare was the right decision. But we think that this is the way that that all of healthcare will gradually go. It just so happens that mental healthcare was was at the leading edge and has and continues to be.

Nathan Bays: Fascinating. Nate, thanks so much for for joining us on Day Zero.

Nathaniel Hundt: Thanks.

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