STEM Entrepreneur Spotlight: Timothy Butts TEB1 Consulting Healthcare I.T. Specialist

Entreprenuer Sportlight:   Healthcare I.T. with Timothy Butts  

Written & Edited by Anisah Muhammad

On December 18, 2014, Jacqueline and Dave of Technology Expresso interviewed Tim E. Butts of @TEB1Consulting on the topic of healthcare I.T.  Follow radio program and our twitter chats @techxocafe!  Email Us if you would like to be featured or have a topic you’d like to suggest!

tim butts

Here is the transcript from our Interview of Timothy Butts:

Dave: Today, we are speaking with Timothy Butts. He has his own business within the healthcare industry. I will give you a little bit of information about him, and he’ll give you the rest. Tim Butts is from Philadelphia. Since 2002, he has been the president and CEO of TEB1 and Associates LLC, a provider of healthcare I.T. solutions that specializes in healthcare communications partnership with healthcare professionals, students and institutions. Timothy started the company as a response to the lack of innovation and ingenuity within the healthcare public sector. Welcome Tim. Can you tell us a little bit more about your business?


Tim: Thanks for having me. TEB1 and Associates do things on a collaborative scale. We believe we always need to be nimble, always need to be abreast of cutting edge, and always need to be aware of what the market is asking for. We are in the healthcare I.T. Sector. With the effects of healthcare I.T. currently, you can imagine how many changes need to occur on the sly. Back in the 2002 and 2003 time-frame, there was not a public sector exposure to things like electronic health records, but those technologies already existed. They existed in the private sector. I had worked as the vice chairman for physician education for Mayo Clinic. In that capacity, I was responsible for leading a team, developing software solutions and electronic health records. With the advent of HIPAA, which is the responsibility of the patient to manage their own healthcare and to be aware of what’s going on, a lot of people to this day haven’t caught the wave on that. That was a gap I acknowledged and wanted to grasp and run with. We did some consulting in the I.T. space, the healthcare space, and  in the pharmaceutical space, and it all converged into a great opportunity. We’ve been able to collaborate with large and small partners. I have had the luxury of getting an edge on teaching at Temple University and some collaborative teaching at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. We get exposure to great, young minds. We bring them in as junior consultants or interns, and we interact with them. We are able to knock out projects and do great things.


Jacqueline: That is awesome. Healthcare, let alone I.T. healthcare, changes fast. Can you talk to us about some of the ups and downs?


Tim: First and foremost, it’s not without pain. The important thing is for a person to have a vision and a commitment to drive forward on that vision. You have to know what it is you know how to do, you have to have a pipeline of opportunities to tap into and you have to know that you are a resilient individual on a resilient team. If you have a resilient team around you, you can use that team. You can also utilize other professionals as a separate board of directors to say, “Here’s my plan, budget and where I’m going.” Let their expertise serve as a litmus test. Back in the early days of doing business, it was imperative to get that feedback and to also talk to people in the family. Let them know the changes that were going to occur. I am no longer an employee, but I’m stepping out. I have to be the brand. I must be the salesperson. I must be the cook and the bottle-washer. That is what an entrepreneur needs to embrace in that type of venture. If you have the luxury of collaborating, you’re growing and learning new things. You have to dive in. You have to be 24/7 in your thought process. Know that the dollars have to go back into the business and that you don’t have the luxury in taking the money that comes in on a given invoice to run off on a vacation. You have to reinvest it. You have to put some aside, because there are going to be dry times. You always have to be marketing. Speaking about myself, my work has to be of my market plan. My work has to reflect my ability to accomplish things. I need to constantly be learning. I.T., particularly healthcare I.T., changes rapidly. I have to be well-immersed, tied into professional organizations on both the healthcare side and the technical side and network.


Dave: Congratulations on your success. Being an entrepreneur and establishing your own business takes a lot of guts and determination. What do you, as an individual, bring to your business that differentiates you from the rest of your market competitors?


Tim: I have an undergrad in business administration with I.T. and my master’s is a tie between I.T. and telecommunications. What I bring to the table that’s different is a fantastic network and expertise. I have worked for Mayo Clinic and organizations like GFK. That work allowed me to build a foundation of network opportunities and a lot of good business practices to apply. At conferences, we are typically very few in the circle. When I walk in, people are going to notice that I’m there. Sometimes, you’re invisible, but when you speak up and know what you’re talking about, that differentiates you. A person stepping into the entrepreneurial role needs to be sure of themselves. You have to have the confidence to speak up and say, “Here’s what I know that I know.” You can then build the credibility, and people will start trusting you to do projects with them and for them. Having worked in tight schedules and tight projects, I had the confidence in the I.T. arena that allowed me to step out on faith and build a brand.


Jacqueline: You talked about building your brand. You are now the brand. You are the marketing department. That’s important. Can you tell the audience your Twitter handle and how you leverage Social Media to build your brand?

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Tim: @TEB1Consulting is my Twitter handle. I’m also on LinkedIn. What made me aware of that model was a marketing management class I went to while at a NBA Conference. We talked about how if you’re going to use Twitter, have a standard time by which you’re going to send your messages out. Be concise. Don’t have too many messages going on at one given time. Let people know, “This is what I know that I know.” Don’t just retweet all of the time. Sometimes you retweet, sometimes you tweet breaking news, sometimes you write an opinion and sometimes you write a white paper. You let people know that you know what you’re talking about. The beauty of entrepreneurship in this capacity is that I’m able to consult, teach, mentor and be mentored. I’m on a couple of different college advisory boards. I go into classrooms and teach students, and I also go into organizations like the NAACP and mentor students there. I let people know the importance of being well-organized, time-management and building credibility. If you make mistakes but you know why you made the mistakes, acknowledge that. If you make the mistake and don’t know why it was made and what the effect is, you’re showing that you don’t have a lot of credibility. You don’t have the ability to manage a project. As a project manager, ripples happen. Issues come up. You have to be able to say, “This mistake happened, and here’s why. Here’s the impact of the issue, and here’s what we’re going to do to mitigate that.” When you fall, always make sure you’re falling forward. Be willing to say, “Yes, we’re falling. We’re stumbling, but we’re doing it in a way that we’re going to be able to keep ourselves afloat.” Keep that positive attitude. It’s necessary to surround yourself with positive people. When you get into a session of talking negative, that’s where your head will be. You won’t be making any progress, and you always have to make progress. Think, “How am I going to move forward?” Remain creative, positive and innovative. The best way to do that is to get your focus and continue to move forward.


Jacqueline: Thank you for that advice. A question from Sharon Simmons is, “You wear so many hats in your company. How do you remain focused? What’s your personal recipe?”


Tim: Humility and surrounding myself with positive people. Even when negative things happen, try to look for the positive in it. There are times you have to stay in the moment. Other times, you have to compartmentalize. There are times when I stumble. I have to compartmentalize by taking care of the issue at hand then getting back to the other. I have to communicate with other people. Although that might seem a bit abrupt to friends, they know that I will get back to them. They know that I had to prioritize a fire happening right here in front of me as opposed to a fire outside. I keep a level head by communicating and being consistent.


Dave: Tim, can you tell us about your partnership and involvement with BDPA? How do you volunteer your time to the organization?


Tim: A credo I learned as a young buck years ago was a biblical piece, and that is to balance and to give to things you believe in. Volunteer your three t’s: time, talent and treasure. That is key to how I give back and how I balance what I do. If I can’t give time, I will do a workshop or mentor people, and that’s with talent. For treasure, you can give a sponsorship. Last year I sponsored between 10 and 20 students to join BDPA. I became a lifetime member of BDPA some years ago. I’m one of the founding members of the Southern Minnesota Chapter. I and a few others got together and said, “This area of the country needs a BDPA.” Now, there’s a lot of people in that part of America learning STEM and doing great things. I balance my time, talent and treasure. I go to meetings, give feedback and mentor. I’m also a co-host for the BDPA Radio Show. We do our show on every other Tuesday evening. We’re able to interact and find out what other people are doing in the BDPA family.

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Jacqueline: Kudos to BDPA Radio. We have much respect for them. We’re part of the BDPA family as well. BDPA is an awesome organization, developing, as we say, from the classroom to the boardroom. Throughout our conversation you’ve been covering that you’re diversified. Can you talk about how you diversify and stay in touch on the technical side as well as the medical side?


Tim: The business model at my level is one where we have to be engaged in projects. Growing up, both of my parents worked for the VA hospital. I was already exposed to a hospital/medical setting. I started to learn medical terminology early on. I came in with knowledge of medical terminology and knowledge of applications for various platforms of EHR. I go to classes to learn more, but I always try to learn well enough to teach someone else. When I’m teaching a class, I challenge the students to learn what we’re learning well enough to teach someone else. When we go through critical pieces of a book, I ask them to give a synopsis of what they read. I ask them to do it in such a way that if they had to sit down at the dinner table with a grandparent, they will be able to share what they just learned and read about in class. That’s what I practice myself. I need to be trilingual in something that I’ve learned. That way, I can speak to an executive about it, a technologist about it and the average person about it. I need to be able to make them all aware at their particular level. When it comes up, they know about it. I’m able to articulate what I know in a lot of different ways and on a lot of different levels. A better question would be how and when to articulate those things. Over the years I’ve learned to speak publicly but also speak on various levels of management to make sure I get my points across. I have a great deal of confidence when speaking to a group. Likewise, if I’m on a one-on-one level, I can break what I want to communicate down for the client, individual or mentee. It takes practice. If you can do it, teach it and say it, then you know it. That’s how I’m able to keep the balance and keep moving.


Jacqueline: I’m absorbing the information. Great advice. A lot of people have the impression that when you have your own business, every day is a pleasure. What would you say about the misconceptions to someone who is embarking on being an entrepreneur?


Tim: I often fall asleep on my computer. I often wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. I try to get a little exercise in, but at the same time, I’m either on the phone or breaking down my plan for the day. I plan a week in advance, at least. I have to be conscientious and consistent with the discipline of the day. I mix in 3 different conference calls with other professional organizations during the day or week. I’ll jump on, give opinions on topics and remind people that, “I’m out here, and I’d love to collaborate with you.” That’s how you market yourself. You participate. Sometimes you volunteer some time. You roll up your sleeves and get back to projects. At the end of the day, you want to tweak your schedule based off of the things you learned that day. For example, say we’re doing a project on ICD-9 transitioning to ICD-10. Those of you who don’t know what that is, when you go to a doctor, on your bill they don’t write that you came in for a broken arm. They write down the actual code for broken arm, and that’s what an ICD-9 code is. An ICD-10 code is when they write down that you have a broken arm but also the cause of that broken arm. There’s a lot more detail with ICD-10, and that’s why the United States Government keeps hesitating on the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. We know the trigger has to be pulled. The dictionary of how doctors do their work has to transition. Every time they hesitate, it’s a hiccup for me. I may have a plan to do throughout the year, but if the Federal Government or the Federal Union of Doctors says that we have to hesitate for a year, that pulls from my game-plan. I then have to adjust. You have to be nimble and resilient. You always have to have other things in the pipeline so that when change happens, you know other people you can call to say, “Do you need assistance?”

Dave: In closing, what’s next for TEB1 and Associates?


Tim: Healthcare I.T. continues to evolve, and as we go through every round of leadership at the federal level, that continues to change the game-plan of what might happen. Back when George W. Bush initiated Obamacare and President Obama had to pick up the slack and implement it, that is an example of every regime of leadership in our country changing the game-plan. We’re trying to estimate what the next leadership group will do. We just had a major change in Congress that we have to react to. Certain dollars we thought would come from the federal level may not be there. We have to be light on our feet and ready to market and react. We have to know that we’re ready for whatever task comes. That is what’s next for us.

Follow radio program and our twitter chats @techxocafe!

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Email Us if you would like to be featured or have a topic you’d like to suggest!


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