Alex Katz is the founder and CEO of Two Chairs. He started the company after watching family and friends struggle to find a therapist that worked for them. He realized that healthcare is not a commodity. There are dozens of mental health provider types and hundreds of different mental healthcare interventions, and only some are great matches for each person. The therapeutic relationship between a provider and a patient is everything. This problem was not unique to his own experience, but the reality is that it happens to many. He wanted to create an environment where there was less struggle to find the right provider type.
Two Chairs uses data to help match the right client to exactly the right provider in order to create the best possible outcome for treatment. Two Chairs aims to avoid the “Gold Standard of Care,” which he sees as the typical response from anyone seeking mental health care. People will end up testing several different therapists until they find the right one. This can end in worsening a situation with a patient who is seeking mental health care for the first time. They end up shopping around and have a bunch of “dates” with therapists where they're talking about things that they may have never talked about in their entire life before and then having to repeat that story over and over again. It's kind of no surprise to Katz that the modal outcome of the mental health system is people going to a therapist once and then never coming back. He has heard so many people say things like “Therapy is just not right for me.” This is heartbreaking from a provider's standpoint because therapy is right for everyone. It can literally help anyone, but people still end up with the wrong type of provider because of the level of diversity in the field.
Since shopping for a therapist is not like shopping for a typical consumer good, where you may know exactly what you want in advance, Two Chairs gathers a lot of information both virtually and with a licensed therapist who will evaluate the needs of a patient. The information is then put through an algorithm that considers hundreds of different data points and makes really precise matches for each patient that comes through their doors. 99% of their clientele stated they were matched with the right therapist. This removes the need for “other dates” and finding a new provider, which is extraordinary.
Tech plays a really critical role in how patients are matched with providers at Two Chairs. While there is a digital assessment used alongside an algorithm that evaluates numbers and data, in all reality, does not understand the element of therapy and the human intuition that comes from the initial evaluation sessions that are used to appropriately match the patients and providers. The secret to the matching at Two Chairs is an elegant blend of the best of expert human clinicians combined with the best of technology and data.
Data is used in many different ways to not only match the patient with a provider but also to evaluate the progress of the patients and outcomes. Data is collected from the patient before every single session. This information includes the alliance between the patient and provider, symptoms check-in, and checking in on their overall experience. The data collection is very critical. This helps to close the feedback loop with the matching process. Because humans are so unique, there is a lot that goes into providing better care based on the data collected. When we use the data collected to adapt and treat the patients better, the information is not just sitting in a database. It is actually being used to better the team and better treat each patient while driving outcomes.
Provider’s input is an important part of how Two Chairs works to fit patients and providers together. Providers’ preferences in patient groups or identities are often ignored or not talked about in the mental health field because there is this idea that any provider should be able to treat any patient. While this is true and this is how providers are trained, they do still have preferences that are an important part of the matching process.
When it comes to clinician experience, they want to focus on the long-term career of their providers. They want the providers to focus on working at Two Chairs not as a gig but as a whole career. They want their provider to be with them for years and years, not just part-time. Because of this goal of long-term career relationships is to invest time and effort in the providers and in the retention of their providers. Investing in professional development for providers is crucial in allowing providers to learn more in their trade, learning on how to work with different clients, and advance in the field. Also, tying clinicians to managers is just as important, as it allows there to be a ratio of providers to their care and investing in their growth and ensuring that they are taken care of. Ensuring the providers have everything they need, this extra level of focus helps to protect their providers and their goals.
There is a focus on a hybrid model for patient care. There are many patients, even in this post-COVID world, that would prefer to see a therapist in person. This has left a gap in patients who are sitting on the sidelines waiting for care to be in person. Since there is a major focus on tele-psychotherapy, it is important to offer both options for care in order to reach the most amount of patients. While other therapy options are moving away from brick-and-mortar options, Two Chairs remains a leader in their ability to meet its patients where they need to be met. Two Chairs is undeniably invested in patient-focused care in the mental health field.
Check out our interview with CEO Alex Katz of Two Chairs from GDBHT2022 here: