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039 - Parker Smith

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

Parker Smith joins us from PJS Connection. He is active in the behavioral health industry, working directly with mental health and substance abuse treatment organizations consulting on accreditation, state licensing, operational optimization, and growth strategy. Enjoy.

The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates ( They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.

Transcript (no grammar):

welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond the self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collection simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and leading reporting improve your practices cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates today we have parker smith with us parker is the ceo of pjs connection consulting he's in phoenix arizona and here i'm just gonna quote parker to introduce him my life's purpose is to help increase the impact others have on their community and our population as a whole i am deeply passionate about leadership mentorship public speaking relationship building as well as health and wellness i am committed to living a life in service of others parker thanks for being with kurt and i today it's my pleasure thanks for having me um that's a pretty uh pretty passionate pretty um powerful statement that that uh you you know that you've shared i um i'm curious and and i love some of the things you've said in there like like you're you're committed to living a life in service of others so i'll probably ask you about that in a little bit but before that it might be a good idea to just maybe introduce yourself a little bit talk about some of your history and how you ended up um with pjs certainly so i'm parker smith grew up in phoenix arizona and spent the first 18 years of my life there and my path took me to denver colorado for undergraduate university studies to a small school called regis university um loved the education that i received there loved the state of colorado ended up sticking around there for 10 years before moving back to phoenix a couple years ago and what really brought me towards this line of work was the experience i had in undergraduate school with a handful of my best friends who quickly fell through into the throes of heroin addiction so a handful of them started using every day in the house that we lived in i had no idea how to help them i had no idea what to do i felt quite powerless to the situation and unfortunately you know it continued to escalate one of those individuals went on to overdose and pass away and i always wanted to help others i always felt like i was good with connecting with other people and that that people gave me energy and helping people gave me energy and so i decided to pursue a credential following graduation called the certified addiction counselor certification so there's different levels of that in the state of colorado they just um updated it used to be the cac one cactus iii um i earned the cac 2 kind of qualifies me as a clinician now the credential is titled the certified addiction specialist so i come from the counseling side initially after college shortly after college i got in with a organization in boulder colorado called north star transitions i was the third third full-time employee there initially we were a recovery coaching life skills counseling program working with young adults who suffered with addiction and mental health issues and we really helped them to engage with the community do some care coordination with providers but also just help them with life stuff getting back in school you know filling out an application building a resume so i really enjoyed getting to work directly with the individuals but i also realized fairly quickly that i enjoyed the operational and administrative side as well so that organization grew rapidly we added an iop php and then we were actually the first state licensed residential treatment studies center in the city of boulder and that organization still stands tall today with multiple residential facilities multiple silver living homes and a consolidated 10 000 square foot office where the php iop services are delivered so um that organization grew from three employees to 75 within five years and like i said is doing super well so i'm very blessed with that experience i was recovery coach and then i was the program coordinator and i was the director of operations so in that role um i manage all of our regulatory compliance our state licensure went on to earn the joint commission accreditation and for whatever reason that seemed to be an area that i was highly skilled we you know performed extremely well joint commission you know we're told it was kind of one of the better surveys that they had ever seen and the state of colorado requested some of the policies and procedures that i wrote to duplicate and use in some of their state-funded programs so a couple sources of validation there for me and a few years back i recognized you know regulation was increasing uh different stakeholders in the industry you know the government consumers the insurance payers were looking to um you know better better better regulate the industry and understand you know what is quality care and one of the ways that they have attempted to do so is by you know demanding accreditation um in order to be reimbursed for services so i saw that opportunity i recognized um that i had the ability um you know entrepreneurship runs in in my blood my lineage i just love being a business owner i love um you know the freedom um with decision making with with time management and so i've been abundantly blessed um after taking that leap of faith many thought that that was not the best decision for me to to leave a co job and and give it a run but you know it's one of the better decisions that i've made in my life and like i said you know been been really blessed to get where i'm at so my organization mainly works with behavioral health care providers mental health substance abuse treatment individuals with intellectual disabilities and we help these organizations to earn their licenses with their respective state but al also accreditation such as joint commission and carve and we really you know seek to inspire these organizations rather than seeing regulation and you know accreditation as a necessary evil which i think is is oftentimes the view trying to inspire the why behind it you know it wasn't just uh random folks that wrote these laws and rules and regulations as doctors clinicians you know physicians and so there's intentions behind these rules and regulations and so what i try to you know really educate people on is that if you implement and embody and embrace these standards you know the return on investment is uh impossible to calculate and because it's so great you know the quality of the services will increase um you know the the standing with payers will remain um you'll have opportunities you know to go and network or you know there's it just opens a lot of different doors for an organization and rather than see it as something that they have to do we try to help them understand that it's something that they get to do to become better and yet involves a little bit more work for everybody but we see the employees of the organizations you know really appreciate adding some of these measures and a lot of this you know content in the standards is will be stuff you never would have thought about and you implement it and you're like well we're glad that we do that now we never would have thought about that let's help prevent some some maybe some bad things from happening down the line so well parker you talk about it like this is just like this is just what you have to do and everybody's going to understand that this is what you have to do right like if a facility wants to be successful they they've got to get accredited and they need to do all these things but that's not that's not my experience sometimes it's like pulling teeth and you've got to go you've got to go look this is why you want this right this is why we're going to do all of this stuff and it's going to it might not generate you well it will generate you more revenue because you'll be able to accept more policies but it's going to keep you from losing an awful lot of revenue because those insurance companies are very good at taking money back or going and finding money that they think they can take back from you and if you don't put these things in pr in place those that's where those insurance take backs comes in absolutely you know those are kind of the more commonly recognized reasons for accreditation i think some of the you know foundational elements of accreditation that i appreciate is really you know there's these 15 chapters covers every area of the business performance improvement and leadership chapters really address you know the responsibility of leadership to be able to you know foster this culture of safety support all the individuals in the organization and you know as a service-based business your people are your greatest asset and so being able to support them you know with at the leadership level is really going to blossom out in you know through every branch and then performance improvement you know we were talking before the show you know i don't believe anything really stays the same i think that you know either it's it's improving or it's going in the wrong direction and so when you put a quality improvement plan together where you're collecting data you're reporting it um you know aggregating it looking at it objectively to make you know informed decisions about changes then you're really committing to becoming a you know world-class program and i think most aspire to be that and you know very few are really able to pull it off so well and i think it's interesting too parker is that as a as a facility let's say you're doing substance abuse i don't think it's really possible for you to see what the insurance companies are saying about your organization but those insurance companies are certainly keeping a score card on the facilities that they're working with and they're saying yeah they're seeing the doctor every week or they're seeing a therapist twice a week or they're doing outcome measures or you know all of the different things they're paying attention to that and so it really does if you if you do a better program in these back areas that you're talking about it shows up and insurance companies are taking note so i couldn't agree with you more but if i'm tight on money i'm going to tell you to take a walk because i don't want to hear what you have to say i'm just trying to make you know get people treatment so it's an interesting uh conflict there it is and you know there's a lot of different return on investment for you know investing in services like mine or investing in accreditation and you know joining commission and and carf and you know a lot of the other different players in the game have you know they're pushing for this outcomes based care right we're trying to understand what a successful treatment episode looks like and the way i would define that is a you know a treatment plan that was collaboratively developed with the individual in their own words that has been you know successfully completed in terms of you know their active goals and what they wanted to work on um but you can't everyone is just so different in their unique experience you know we're all a calculation of our of these many experiences that make us up over time but when you put in some of these standardized assessment tools whether it's the ph 9 or the brief addiction monitor and you're utilizing the results from these assessments to continue to update and drive treatment with an individual you know now we're really talking about being more objective in the way that we treat people in a way that really addresses the symptoms that they're exhibiting and either reduces those or you know puts a plan in place to try to mitigate over time so i know i get asked this question quite frequently and and i don't know if i know the right answer and maybe you can shed some light but i often hear facilities ask should i get jayco accredited or should i get car for credited and this is fairly specific to substance abuse facilities do you have a preference i do i think the joint commission is is superior and my reasoning is such there's an element of customer service and consulting that you get from a joint commission surveyor that feels a little bit less like an audit and i think adds an additional layer of value in the process where they're helping to teach and educate and provide even resources in the form of documents and you know templates whereas carf i think is really addressed more in the form of an audit another reason is that joint commission you know as you prepare and submit a ready date they're going to come survey you within 30 to 60 days of that ready date you can even do an early survey option where they come you know and give you seven days notice they might come you know a couple weeks after your ready date you don't have to show them this historical data you just represent to them um you know these are the plans and systems that we put in place to be able to meet the standards and then when they come back in three years obviously they're going to want to see that stuff carf demands that you submit a ready date and then they come six months following to be able to analyze what you've done since you've claimed to be ready for them i think that there's also a misconception about cost that you know a lot of people from what i've heard say oh we don't we're not going to join commission because it's more expensive i don't believe that that's true um because it's a flat fee for the survey joint commissioning it's about 3 300 bucks now whereas carp is a cost per surveyor per day and they get to choose how many surveyors they send out and so if you think about fifteen hundred dollars per surveyor per day two surveyors four days you know that's added up to a multiple of what the joint commission's survey cost was so for the above reasons you know joining commission is is preferable but for some organizations maybe carf does make more sense and we can certainly help help those folks as well nice good information i um one of the things that i heard you say as you were sharing your story is that when you were going to the university you were you know in a in a room or in an apartment with all of these guys that are your friends and they're using heroin so it really pricked my attention is how does somebody associate with all of these people that they love and care about and spend time with and not end up using with them um i think yeah it's a good question you know super super blessed i think that there's you know at least a handful of angels that have been looking after me my whole life and and you know being able to keep me from going down certain paths that were you know easily available for me to take it escalated quickly with these folks i think you know they most of them if not all of them had not really experienced um use in the past before college and so when they started using marijuana and drinking it just escalated really quickly as we know it can um one of the uh aspects that i think probably supported me was i was a student athlete in college and so you know i'm in school during the day i'm at practice in the evenings seven days a week you know traveling to tournaments and you know waking up the next morning and finishing the homework that i couldn't get done the night before and so you know time management as a student athlete is is very challenging and to be able to be successful in school in your sport you really need to be dedicated to um you know a routine that can't really include drugs and alcohol i mean yeah but that i mean that's true that's absolutely true but you have to be pretty disciplined to say i'm gonna i'm gonna stay the course i'm gonna do this because this is more important to me because there's plenty of people who have been athletes that have taken the other option right and and there's other dynamics behind it would you you know what can you maybe identify some of those other strengths that you may have that that might be lacking somewhere else sure yeah i've i've always been a resilient person um i've always been a determined person and uh you know i think those are some qualities that have have taken me through life and helped me be successful in a number of ways i'm certainly not afraid of hard work you know putting in that work is such a to me an important component of living a happy and successful life and it's the way that we look at our work and our work takes a lot of different forms it's just not it's not just our job it's the way that we take care of our body it's the way that we take care of our relationships it's the way that we take care of our home it's uh multi-faceted you know work to me um i think it's a loaded word and i take a lot of pride in my work and what i do um and i think that that's certainly a source of motivation and drive for me i think an additional contributing factor is that you know my family had some very humble beginnings um you know there was a period of time where we didn't have a house we lived with you know different families in our church and so you know my parents have worked and sacrificed a lot to provide for us and give us the opportunity to be successful and i would be you know remiss if i didn't uh you know put forth 110 in everything i do um to be able to live out the dream that they wanted to provide for me and my brothers so that's incredible and you talked about coming from a you know a long line of entrepreneurs talk about a little bit what that looked like in your own home and then you know what that looked like you know from your for your ancestors for sure you know the being in service of others definitely is i think part of my family legacy you know my great-grandmother my grandmother you know my mother um you know my my grandfather my my father you know all the way down to me is just really um they we just believe in caring for others and you know being a good steward and helping others when they need it and and making those sacrifices for other people um and then yeah business entrepreneurship uh so my father was you know an aspiring golf professional played at university of colorado you know won the colorado state amateur pursued the professional circuit with golf which is very difficult to be successful in and as a young family you know he had to make a decision where he decided to leave pursuing playing professional and became a teaching professional so becoming a teaching professional unless you work for some sort of organization is very much entrepreneurship you need to find you know opportunities to run camps and so he would work five days a week at asu karsten and then drive up saturday sunday and run camps you know in prescott every weekend and i watched that i participated in that um and you know eventually that gave my mom the opportunity to go back to school she got her degree in counseling my mother is actually a marriage family and addictions therapist and private practice here in phoenix living hope counseling and you know her business now thrives she's got about six clinicians that work under her with a variable set of skills and and experience and so you know both my parents are business owners um you know aunts uncles you know business owners and i think that my family recognizes and appreciates um business ownership as the opportunity to live life in the way that you want um not on a set schedule um you know where you're asking for time off and where you're you know having to kind of navigate this bureaucratic process in a way that serves you we believe in being able to capitalize on the you know effort that we put in and you know you work harder you do better and i like that reward system and so uh hopefully that helps kind of color in the lines a little bit well it does and it it's um it's an interesting it's interesting to hear what your family like is life is like and i imagine people who have um you know who are in recovery or who you know struggle with severe mental illness and things like that you know they might maybe they feel a little bit of resentment if they haven't done enough their work that well look parker had this great life of course he didn't choose drugs because you know he had this great family life and he learned how to work hard he learned how to sacrifice but it sounds like there's an awful lot of elements there that supported you and kept you focused on the things that were important to you absolutely and you know my life has certainly not gone without mistakes you know i think that my challenges like with um you know bad behaviors and and drugs and alcohol kind of came through in high school and i was in an environment that was able to support me through that and i'm actually really grateful for having those challenges more early on in my life and learning from them and getting you know feedback from the world about you know what the consequences of that can be and so as i moved into my own you know independent state outside of where i grew up i felt more capable of making better decisions whereas i think some folks we see come to college haven't been exposed to a whole lot or made a whole lot of poor judgment calls that you know have been introduced to a new set of freedom that gives them that ability where uh the con the unseen consequences start to pop up and it can snowball quickly that's for sure doesn't it well and you know and maybe you know you've you've dabbled and done some drinking and things like that but certainly those who have that addictive gene or or you know addictive issues inside of them it has a very different way of responding in the body and they don't always get that choice so i do want to say you're right i agree completely yeah i think you know some people really um kind of get the short end of the stick and you know in the assessment stage of treatment you know biopsychosocial comprehensive diagnosis you know diagnostic assessment or multi-dimensional assessment it's called a lot of different things but it really addresses these important factors that help shape us as human beings right our biological makeup our psychological makeup and our socialization and for some of those folks like you have described you know the biology and the genetics within them really just predisposes them to this condition um and then also you know there's there's these other factors too right our psychology and you know the way that we're socialized where we grew up traumatic experiences certainly can exacerbate use and you know be a springboard for addiction so i agree with you completely that you know although for me personally it didn't it didn't catch fire it certainly can be a something that people with all the best intentions and you know all the best uh support just uh are gonna struggle with unfortunately parker you seem to me like and and i couldn't agree more i appreciate that validation is that you know we all come a little bit different we've gotta we've gotta own who we are and be proud of who we are and even those weaknesses and challenges that we have as i'm as i'm listening to you kind of share your story and talk about you know the details right you're into the details of jayco and carf and all of these like you're the guy that reads all the small print i i'm pretty sure you're the guy that reads all of that and so i'm wondering um how you keep balance in your life because i imagine you could sit there and read for 12 hours a day and never get enough of it how do you maintain balance in your life i think it's just a consistent um you know taking inventory right i think as a as a business owner one of the bigger challenges is you know do i get help and pay for it or do i learn this myself and do it and i think over time you really have to learn you know which you know bucket it you know the the work should go into right and early on it really has to fall on you and you got to find those answers and as you continue to experience success you have more resources to be able to pull people in i wouldn't be where i'm at i wouldn't have the balance that i do um without some some really wonderful people in my life to help you know check up on that inventory and you know advise me i think you know there's a lot of greatness and wise counsel and so i keep a lot of that around me um to help keep balanced and understand where i should be putting my priorities i think also you know having a routine is just really important um you know i have a yoga practice i love cycling i love playing golf and you know having those uh recreational and and physical exercise you know hobbies and routines i think really supports balance and structure and kind of helps to manage some of the challenges but also bring clarity um and how one organizes their life and so i wish i had a you know crystal ball to to to guide the path for how i can stay balanced but the best uh answer that i could give is just to continue to revisit check in with myself uh be honest with myself um about you know where where i'm balanced and where i'm not and you know where some of the things that i can do to to get back to it and i don't think any of us ever stay balanced all the time it's just a matter of when we can recognize having that self-awareness to say oh you know i'm falling this way or i'm falling that way how can i kind of get back to that you know that balance your life's kind of a funny analogy for for what you do though right that that entrepreneurial aspect right you mentioned the idea of leaving a job right and leaving bureaucracy and leaving structure or whatever for for flexibility you know and other opportunities when um as a person who's owned a few different businesses right i always like to laugh right if you don't if you don't like your boss quit your job as fast as you can and start your own business because then everyone is your boss right that's not that's not something that goes away ever uh answering to people you you change your intention right and now everybody else in the world is your boss clients and employees but you want to serve them right as opposed to you know the spa so you've decided to not like whatever um so it's an interesting analogy right because you go out on your own you start this business now you have a different motivation but you still end up creating structure you still end up creating rules right that help you to be successful and and the accreditation process and all of those things really are the exact same right for some groups this you know accreditation or some of those different processes for kind of meeting standards sound hard they sound like a hassle they sound like you know a challenge or whatever an an audit would be a nightmare type thing but if the approach is that we're going to run our business and meet or exceed all of these standards their life isn't harder life gets easier right with with the system and it's the other analogy you brought up is your health right it's much more fulfilling to just be active and feel good than to not be active and hate yourself for not feeling good all the time right so um that's kind of a it's kind of an interesting analogy that you bring up and that there's not really a question there but kind of a curiosity to just what you're saying totally and i'll kind of piggyback on something that you're saying there um in terms of like you know kind of wanting to step away from the structure that others have created and create my own that i feel like can work well for me and set others up for success and so either you know we are falling within a structure or we're creating it and the latter is more attractive to me i'm laughing i um it made me think back kurt when you gave that analogy of one of my one of my oldest actually my oldest son came one day and he's a teenager right and he's like mom he says i want to be just like you and dad and i'm like what what does that mean honey i didn't want to be accountable to anybody just like you and you and dad are not accountable to anybody you know i want my own business and i don't want to have to answer to anybody and i'm like oh honey i have so many bosses you have no idea you have no idea all that accountability just like you talked about but it's easy to misconceive that if if you have this little bit more flexible schedule or you know maybe you're not working nine to five maybe you're you know working in the morning or you know take a break in the afternoon or you work longer hours but they don't really account for all of that or the idea that that if you don't work and make money that when you go on vacation there's no money right that money doesn't keep coming in if you're the one making the money so it was just interesting when you're young what you perceive and what you think is happening yeah and i would you know maybe push back on the multiple bosses thing i think you know in some ways you can make that analogy but there's more security in having 10 bosses than one because if one of them you know decides to change course the other nine are still there um so i think sometimes it can be a bit of a misconception you know that employment has more security than business ownership but it takes a lot of effort energy and time to be able to get to the place where you have all those bosses and none of them can really tell you what to do and they all pay you which is really nice right because your boss doesn't pay you you fire them [Laughter] that is correct um parker this has been kind of a fun conversation i'm wondering you talked about you know keeping people around you that that help um you know share their information and direct you who how do you think about mentorship and and are you really deliberate about that kind of a relationship i am um i think that you know part of the way that our life is meant to be lived this is just my personal perspective is to be mentored and to mentor um you know that there's an abundant amount of knowledge and wisdom to be shared between people right and the mentor learns from the mentee and the mentee learns from the mentor and there's so many folks out there in the world who have not had someone to look up to someone to help guide them someone to help teach them and i believe that we all as a basic human right deserve to have mentorship and guidance from someone and to have the opportunity to pass that along at some phase or stage of our life and so the people that really you know i think surround me and add a lot of value and benefit are some of the people that have been uh my clients even that have been you know obviously i'm a younger guy i've been you know only only doing this for you know close to a decade now whereas some have been doing it for 30 40 years and so it's important for me to ask those questions you know those those challenges that i have and have those conversations and then also be able to give back you know i'm participating in the big brothers big sisters program and you know obviously there's a lot of young boys and young girls that don't have a mentor that exists in their life and so hopefully that addresses the question but that's more or less kind of my approach to it i like that and to be intentional about it i think it's really important what's uh what's in the future for parker oh boy that's a loaded question um i live in phoenix however i still love colorado i am i'm hoping to add a second location to be able to really kind of split my time between both i'm also working on an expansion with my business to develop a tool that's going to help organizations you know simplify and organize uh maintaining their compliance and following the standards and so without disclosing a whole lot about that i've got some pretty exciting stuff coming down the pipe this year that i think will solve a lot of problems around compliance it'll make it easier to remain in compliance and a byproduct of that is that you know thousands if not hundreds of thousands of patients will be treated with you know that much more of a level of respect and safety and quality so you know i i'm sure you probably saw on my website you know my the mission of my organization is to you know support the growth development refinement of healthcare organizations seeking to make a positive impact in the lives of others my vision is you know a higher standard of safety and quality in healthcare so everything that i'm doing with my company is centered around improving outcomes improving safety improving quality and that really makes it easy for me to know what to do next because it's just all about that oh it's very organized right it's very clear and it's very it's there's a path to follow and i love that you do that stuff because i don't really like to do that much detail right i don't like there's i have to get away from the computer every now and then so i appreciate what you do and and i know how hard it is because i've worked with a lot of different consultants that do kind of the things that you do and the detail and the organization that's required is intense so i appreciate um knowing that about you because just just what you're telling me i know that about you and you know what you do so i imagine that there's going to be you know facilities and organizations that are going to recognize your your gifts and abilities as well and your hard work and they're going to want to get a hold of you what's the best way for them to do that they can email me directly parker p j s connection dot com they can visit my website there's a contact form i'm also easily discoverable on linkedin has some of my testimonials more about me like you had read from my bio and my work history in the industry and so i'm a i'm a very accessible guy and you know any of those three avenues are ones that you can take to to get in touch with me that's uh thank you thank you for sharing that and um and thanks for being on our show today parker it's been um it's been fun awesome well i appreciate you having me thanks parker

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