Communication: Don’t shut down when things go wrong. You’re not perfect. Technology is a process in itself. People on the backend are constantly writing the code. Stay in touch with them.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. John Huber.
Dr. John Huber, Chief Executive Officer at Tripsitter Clinic is a mental health professional for over twenty years, Dr.Huber is a clinical forensic psychologist, and a practitioner with privileges at two long term acute care hospitals. Dr. Huber is Law Newz’s go to clinical psychologist and appears regularly on America Trends National Television show.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I grew up all over Texas. Neither of my parents had a degree, so our family went wherever the work was. They advocated for higher education and in turn, I received multiple degrees and licenses over the course of 18 years.
I eventually began working with patients directly in a psychiatric hospital. Often, I was called on by other doctors to talk to patients who were near the end of life or may have exhausted all their options in life. I really became passionate about mental health around this time. The ketamine infusions followed and it was really groundbreaking in terms of effectiveness. We’ve since founded TripSitter Clinic, a telemedicine platform for at-home ketamine therapy.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I often see people who were victims of sexual trauma. Last year, we saw a teenager who experienced childhood incest for six years from a young age. At age six she became closed off from everyone — even her family — but no one knew why until years later. Her family brought her to us last winter at age 16 because she had been mimicking the same behaviors since she was 6 years old. Nothing seemed to work for her.
Her initial ketamine infusion lasted for an hour. During the infusion process, just five minutes in, she asked the doctor and me to hold her hands. She was finally able to open up and process what happened to her. After just one session, this young woman had a psychological breakthrough and was totally transformed. Afterwards, she was more comfortable and open with her family members. She was confident that her trauma was behind her and she was ready to live life to the fullest.
I’ve experienced these revelations with military veterans, as well. They kept themselves from developing close relationships because they were afraid of getting hurt again. Ketamine’s success rate is much higher compared to that of any “12-step program” and even most methods practiced by the mainstream mental health system. We’re so privileged and honored to witness our patients experience such life-changing epiphanies.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Clinically, Dr. Carl Bonnett helped me tremendously with the ketamine infusion treatments. He started me on this journey with one of my forensic patients.
Years ago, I worked with a defense attorney on a DUI case. The client, facing a potential prison sentence, was almost 70 years old. The judge stopped me during the trial and asked for my medical opinion, since he didn’t want to send someone that old to prison for the first time. He paused the trial for the next 30 days and asked me to present him with an alternative.
During the next four weeks, I dove deep into ketamine research. Dr. Bonnett showed me the redacted data on 10 years worth of medical research he’d done with Veterans Affairs treating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. The findings concluded the vast majority of patients with PTSD stopped drinking after treatments. Dr. Bonnett was able to be an expert witness in the case and together, we presented an alternative to the judge. The client agreed to pay for the treatments. Not only did he dodge a brutal sentence, but he’s been happily sober ever since.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Well, John Lennon said it first: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” You may have to toss out the roadmap sometimes, but if you keep working hard and intelligently, you’ll get there. That is a core concept. Working hard doesn’t mean you’ll be successful, but working hard and intelligently can greatly benefit you. It’s also imperative to keep your eyes open and take the scenic route sometimes.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Self-Improvement: I never feel like I’m a success because if I did, I’d settle and become stagnant. However, the reality is there’s always someone better and smarter than you out there, so you have to keep moving forward. Failure is a life lesson. Learn that lesson and keep moving. Get your feet wet and let them being mired inspire you.
- Persistence: Don’t break. Bend and compromise instead. A situation might not be everything you want today, but if you help things grow and change, that’s what will inspire improvement.
- Introspection: Keep yourself sharp. Respect the opinions of others, but don’t allow them to completely change who you are. It’s all about growth because those with differing perspectives are in the same room as you for a reason. Strive to always grow bigger and smarter.
Okay, super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
When patients come to us, many of them have exhausted all other options. Many are resistant to different kinds of psychiatric medications. Some may have just never found the right provider to trust. Although mental health services are being offered more widely, it still takes time to find the right fit. Not every therapist is for everyone — it takes a few tries. Likewise, not every treatment works for everyone. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. We want to provide individualized services using psychedelic-assisted treatment to provide effective and proven results.
How do you think your technology can address this?
With our online services, we’re able to help a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise be getting the help they needed. With telehealth, our patients can seek services in the privacy and safety of their own home. There aren’t any needles. We monitor their treatment. They’re happy and they get better. It’s not a magic pill; it takes a lot of work but is achievable with the right guidance.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
I come from a background in school psychology. I later transitioned to forensic psychology. I’ve witnessed the mental health system fail many people because — if we’re being honest with ourselves — the system isn’t designed for everyone. I met many people who were resistant to traditional treatments despite their efforts of having undergone them to do everything they could. I even felt defeated having to hold space for people as a counselor, knowing that sometimes all I could do was listen. Although listening has tremendous power, especially when those who don’t feel heard are finally listened to, listening alone isn’t an end-all cure for conditions like PTSD and bipolar disorder.
However, once introduced to the potential of ketamine and psychedelic-assisted therapy through my mentor Dr. Bonnett, things started to look up. I could finally provide something more tangible and effective to patients who needed something transformative.
How do you think this might change the world?
Unlike conventional mental health approaches like multistep programs, our success rate is significantly higher. We have an 80 percent success rate. Plus, everything can be done from home. We’re extremely committed to bettering the industry to make ketamine therapy overall more affordable, accessible and equitable. Many of our patients are veterans and sexual violence survivors who walk away with their life totally changed and are at peace with themselves, despite once being held back by the traumatic events they experienced.
Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
I’m always concerned that patients coming to us with mental health issues online have difficulty navigating telehealth. We help our patients get oriented with the technology and take care of any IT needs.
A common thought is that telehealth will never compare to in-person treatment. However, that’s not a complaint most people have based on our feedback through patient surveys. In fact, patients increasingly say they’re more connected than ever, because they may have been feeling isolated without care before coming to us.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
- Evolution: Expect to be dynamic. Evolution never ends. We created the Tripsitter Clinic to evolve the ketamine industry and create a platform that makes psychedelic therapy more readily available. Continue evolving by constantly tweaking your system and methods.
- Quality: Make sure you have a quality technology team that goes the extra mile to ensure success. Our technology team is ready to assist patients that have difficulties navigating computers and getting set up on our telemedicine platform.
- Delegation: You need to articulate what you need. If you don’t know, tell your tech team because they may have some creative solutions and ideas. After all, they’re most familiar with user experience.
- Targeting: Don’t forget who your target audience is. Know who you are trying to help. My organization, for example, offers mental health services, not a catch-all solution for one particular ailment and we’re mindful of this in every aspect of our process.
- Communication: Don’t shut down when things go wrong. You’re not perfect. Technology is a process in itself. People on the backend are constantly writing the code. Stay in touch with them.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
If you can find something that you love and also make a positive impact on society, then don’t give up! Providing mental health services through alternative medicine has been one of the most rewarding experiences. I’m lucky to be able to help individuals in need.
We all do things to put food on the table that we don’t enjoy doing and that’s a reality for a lot of people. However, if you’re doing what you love and it helps others, the dull parts of every job won’t weigh nearly as much.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? They might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I’m going to cheat here and include two people. First and foremost, my dad was my sounding board for bouncing ideas off of growing up. He died from complications related to cigarette smoking in 1994. He would smoke every night before we went to bed and sit on the porch. I’d sit out there with him and we’d have these long, deep philosophical conversations until I moved to college. Even then, we’d have phone calls that would last for hours. When we passed, I lost that and I miss it tremendously. So I’d do anything to just talk to him again, just one more time.
There are lots of business leaders and civil rights leaders I could absolutely learn from. However, I’m most inspired by Eric Clapton because he does humanitarian work helping people with addiction on the islands. He raises funds for his recovery centers in Antigua. He’s living proof of having struggled for decades, having thrived since then, and is now giving back. He sees the value in mental health services and I’d love to converse with him about what I’m doing.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.