Originally published in Uptown Messenger by Tyree Worthy
Business Profile: TPN, a modern clinician referral platform
A New Orleans-based startup is working to match verified behavioral health treatment providers with patients who need their help. The Trusted Provider Network (TPN) platform is just that: an online network of licensed clinicians across the state, connecting their clients with specialists that would benefit them the most.
According to their website, “TPN offers a local community with a national reach to providers who meet the highest code of clinical services, ethics, and professional standards.”
CEO Trevor Colhoun, who has a background in capital markets and private equity, saw an opportunity with TPN to fix some of the issues faced when dealing with the behavioral health system.
“Two years ago, I started getting very fascinated with behavioral health. We had some family members go through different aspects of the behavioral health path,” Colhoun said. “It was awful to see the process and how it was occurring. On an advocacy and philanthropic side, we got involved.”
When Colhoun stumbled on TPN about two years ago, it was based in Georgia, with one of the co-founders living in New Orleans and running an intensive outpatient addiction center. After meeting and discussing the current system, the two decided to work together to reorganize the company, focus on clinicians, and build what providers need to be successful.
“Let’s focus and build for clinicians,” they thought, “and from there, we can build out all the tools in the behavioral health space to change and improve outcomes.”
With this in mind, TPN began to restructure on January 1st of this year, partnering with capital investors from New Orleans and medical programs like Tulane University. They aimed to start with the clinicians—those who connect and refer the best clinical fit for their clients.
The Trusted Provider Network platform helps behavioral specialists keep track of, and actively stay current with, the professionals they know or have worked with. While using the platform, verified licensed clinicians are able to make and accept referrals, connect with other clinicians, endorse colleagues, and browse relevant articles and topics in their own personal newsfeed.
The platform features profiles that may include a video, biography, photo, specialties and referral stats for each provider. Clinicians can sign up and create their own profiles. The data is used to inform other professionals about the work you do, not a resource based on data collection like some digital outlets.
“The data that people put on here is sacred—sacred to us, sacred to them,” Colhoun said. “The relationship that we’re creating here is, the customers are not the product like with Facebook or Google. Our product is the platform.”
This is for clinicians, by clinicians. These are behavioral healthcare providers who care about the successful treatment of their patients, clinicians who want results for their patients. For TPN, a clinician’s work is based on referrals and recommendations by people they know and are connected to. Everyone on the platform is a licensed professional, and their fields of expertise are listed and vetted.
A professional network online
Say a counselor has five to ten offline connections they refer to for most services. Some do this, and others do that, but there are limitations that arise. First, the network is small, and the counselor only has so many service options. Secondly, they need to know if and when their connections are taking new patients. The counselor or patient would have to get specialist on the phone or stop in to talk directly.
TPN clinicians can build their endorsement network of people that they’ve used in the past. They can see people that they trust on TPN, and their endorsement networks as well. A counselor can look at a connection’s profile and send a confidential patient referral that both professionals can access anytime.
“The only people that are in this are professionals. They have a licensure by a state board governing body. They have an ethics standard they have to live by. If I’m giving someone else an endorsement, it’s powerful, so I’m putting my name out there.”
Tools for clinicians
This startup wants to grow from New Orleans roots and revolutionize behavioral healthcare through elevated clinical connections. Addressing and solving the problem in New Orleans and Louisiana would help TPN branch out into serving clinicians and patients in other cities and states.
This is a tool that will continue to build in order to increase outcomes for clients. “How you make this work is… if we don’t have integrity and trust, we don’t have a company,” Colhoun explained. “We don’t have the clinicians to come on and give and share their information and connect with other people.”
Plans for TPN extend far beyond the platform, starting with continued education events for credits nurse practitioners, doctors, and physicians need to maintain licensure.
They host professionals from around the region for events like their Mind Clinic on December 5, 2019. This featured presentations by Dr. José Calderón-Abbo, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry and Certified in Mind-Body Medicine, and Dr. James Flowers, owner of J. Flowers Health Institute, and Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluations and Pain Management expert.
Colhoun added: “Every clinician or social worker, counselor or addiction counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist…They’re in this to improve people’s lives, and they do this because this is a passion work that they do and they do great work for.”
“For the family members who suffer from behavioral health, we want loved ones to get the fastest help possible, get to the recovery that they can have, so they can actually live and fulfill good lives.”
There’s space to grow a platform like this in New Orleans. There is room to build here, and opportunity to advance behavioral health and improve outcomes.
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