The latest post in our Spruce Spotlight series features our implementation and onboarding specialist, Allison Steele, who spoke with us about her journey to get to Spruce and her enthusiasm for systems-level change in healthcare.
Title: Implementation Whiz
Years at Spruce: 1+
Location: San Francisco, CA
What initially drew you to Spruce?
I joined Spruce about a year ago, after working at a Direct Primary Care (DPC) clinic in Seattle where I worked as a medical assistant / office manager for two years. I gained exposure into what it takes to build a DPC clinic, how to interact with patients, and how to help providers become more efficient in their daily tasks. I thought a lot about our internal clinic ecosystem, as well as how we fit into the larger, growing DPC movement.
While I was there, I spent time researching how to grow a DPC practice and improve our offerings when I came across Spruce! I talked to Jessica and convinced our doctors that we needed to overhaul our communication system to offer secure messaging and video calling, among other features. Initially, we were skeptical and thought patients might text us more than we wanted. But we were lucky that we could tap into Spruce’s features that allow you to filter between what needs to be answered immediately versus what can wait. I worked closely with the Spruce team to roll out the software in our practice early on. Then, I connected with the Spruce Team in person at the Hint Summit and started talking about implementing Spruce in DPC practices nationwide. So when I joined the Spruce team, my job was to do DPC rollouts like the one I had done, but I’ve since expanded to a variety of different fields.
Back up for a second. How did you decide to join Spruce?
The Spruce team decided it was the job for me (laughs). No, personally, even in my role at the clinic, I was thinking of healthcare as part of a system, so it made sense that I was constantly thinking about our communication system, our EHR, etc. while also partaking in hands-on patient care. I definitely enjoyed the one-on-one conversations with patients to obtain their history, conduct physical exams, draw blood, give shots, and all of that. But the appeal of systems-level change was ultimately what got me excited to join Spruce. I was inspired by the mission of likeminded people who want to be innovative in this space.
The appeal of systems-level change was ultimately what got me excited to join Spruce. I was inspired by the mission of likeminded people who want to be innovative in this space.
What is a typical day in the life for you at Spruce?
I typically work with about 20 to 30 customers at a time to implement Spruce in their practice. I focus mainly on understanding their goals with Spruce and helping them design their communication system. I also do the behind-the-scenes work to get those goals implemented in a functional and timely fashion for their team. I respond to customer questions, provide suggestions for things that have worked in the past for other clinics, and lead all-team trainings on video calls with customers.
On top of that, I work with our support team to make sure we’re able to answer questions from customers who are no longer in implementation in a timely manner. Basically, I try to improve our internal resources for the support team and improve external methods for implementing Spruce in clinics.
20-30 clinics is a lot to manage! How do you do it?
I don’t work with 20 to 30 everyday. There are lots of phases of implementation. Customers trickle in over time, and they have different levels of complexity. I tend to work at the speed of the customer. Their implementation depends on how fast they’re ready to change or redesign communication for their clinic. And I understand that it’s a big undertaking to execute this type of change, so I walk them through the process and communicate with them in different waves depending on their readiness.
After work, I like to bike home to relax. I guess biking down Market Street isn’t so relaxing (laughs), but then I go through Golden Gate Park, or even to the beach if I have the time!
What has been most rewarding about your time at Spruce?
It’s been fun to work with a variety of different customers on implementation. I get to see all parts of healthcare, everything from helping single mental health practitioners who run their own business to complex, multi-location, multi-provider practices that are trying to build health systems. Each customer has slightly different needs, but many have the same themes of improving access to their patients and teammates, and becoming more efficient in their communication.
I get to see all parts of healthcare, everything from helping single mental health practitioners who run their own business to complex, multi-location, multi-provider practices that are trying to build health systems. Each customer has slightly different needs, but many have the same themes of improving access to their patients and teammates, and becoming more efficient in their communication.
What is something unexpected that you’ve learned from working at Spruce?
I came from working at a healthcare clinic, and I didn’t know much about what it would be like to work for a tech company. My entire background has been working directly with patients and providers. This may sound silly but I hadn’t fully conceptualized how much software is used in running a software company! I’ve unexpectedly learned so much about different kinds of software — how to manage tasks, present information to people, and follow up with customers smoothly. There’s a lot of different software involved in making software!
If you could be any sandwich, which would it be?
A roasted eggplant, veggie panini with goat cheese and pesto.
Yum – thanks, Allison!
Want to work with Allison and the rest of Team Spruce? Check out our job listings here!