Company Spotlight: Shaun Buchhalter from Clarus
Shaun Buchhalter is the Chief of Staff at Clarus in Nashville. Clarus works with healthcare providers to improve patient-provider communication with both daytime and after hours inbound calls. Clarus minimizes response time delays, prevents call routing errors, and reduces communication operation cost as a more efficient and reliable option than traditional call centers. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Shaun to learn more about Clarus, his role in the company, and his career path.
Shaun, tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from and how long have you been with Clarus?
I grew up in Brooklyn and spent my first year of university at Stony Brook. I decided I wanted to move somewhere cheap and warm so I transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). I majored in political science, with a focus in communications and public speaking. After graduation, I spent 10 years working in the nonprofit sector. This brought me to Chicago, San Francisco, and Manhattan. Around 2003, I was in San Francisco after the dot-com bust, and I kept seeing friends benefit from a resurgence of the internet boom. One friend was an engineer for Pro Tools, which allowed him to travel all around the world. One friend took a career leap to Salesforce, and another to Amazon, and it worked out very well for all of them. I started to explore the idea of going back into the private sector. In 2010, I was offered a promotion with the nonprofit I was at, but it would require a commitment of approximately another 5 years in Manhattan. I realized it was now or never, so after a recommendation from a close friend, my wife and I decided to move to Nashville, despite vowing to never live below the Mason Dixon after my experience in college at UNCC.
I only knew two people in Nashville, but my pitch was simple. I calculated how low I could charge for basic expenses, and I made it clear that given the chance, I could prove my value to any company. My conditions were that I was looking for an early stage company and I didn’t want to remain in the position I was originally hired in for long. I started at a young stock trading education company, which soon pulled in $1.5 million. As I realized they were serial entrepreneurs, I volunteered to manage many of their projects simultaneously. I handled everyday execution as well as all hiring, and eventually became the VP of Operations.
As my network grew, people continued to tell me that to sustain yourself in this city, you have to get into healthcare. I started meeting up with a friend, Andy, every Friday morning. We would check in, challenge each other, and hold each other accountable. When Andy took over as CEO of Clarus (then called eClinic Healthcare) our coffee meetings turned into consulting sessions . In April 2016, one week after my daughter was born, I officially joined the Clarus team.
Now that we know about your background, I’d love to hear more about Clarus. What problem is Clarus solving? Who is your target customer?
Our target customer is the physician practice space and physician offices. These businesses often use call centers for after hours patient communication. Call centers are notorious for all sorts of mistakes, the most common being that they contact the wrong physician in the middle of the night. Errors and inefficiencies in after hours call centers are unfortunately commonplace.
Often times office managers are left in the dark about what took place after hours. By using Clarus office managers are able to track and review the calls that came in the night before including data about call back times, number of calls, etc. We also give office managers the ability to update their on-call calendars in real time versus having to wait to connect with their call center. The experience for the patients is also greatly improved. We completely eliminate hold times because patients are no longer waiting on hold for a call center agent, which means doctors get the calls faster, which then means patients can get called back faster.
Clarus has moved beyond after hours calls, and we are becoming a communication suite for all inbound communication to physician office. Our daytime service helps physician practices better handle the magnitude of calls during office hours. This allows offices to prioritize and be more efficient with follow-up.
What do you like most & what do you find most challenging about working at a startup?
I like the chaos. You have to be on your toes 24/7, and there is no time for planned rest. Everything counts. Every dollar, decision, and hire matters. I enjoy the pressure and level of engagement, and I can see my impact in every part of the business. It can often be a nerve-racking challenge, you could be a few decisions away from bankruptcy or from striking gold. At a startup, you’re not limited to specific areas or projects, you’re always wearing multiple hats, being challenged, and constantly learning.
Shaun, you’ve already shared a lot of wisdom, but if you had to narrow it down, what advice would you give a college student or recent grad preparing for the professional world?
To be practical, I’d say graduate quickly and don’t get hung up in school. I purposefully chose not to get my MBA because I preferred real work experience. Depending on how ambitious of a learner you are, you will realize that some of your most important education is acquired on your own.
I’d also remind you that what you do in college doesn’t have to be your career. I wanted to be in politics, and I desired creating an impact on culture. I am not in politics, but in some ways, I use similar skills and have an impact on a more specific culture. Creating an impact was extremely important to me, and even though I wasn’t necessarily looking for it, I found the ability to make this happen in the healthcare space.
From our conversation, I learned that Shaun is creative, strategic, and dedicated. He is a fantastic representation of the work ethic required in startups, and he displays the compassion and drive that we need more of in health and healthcare. To learn more about Clarus, visit their homepage here: http://claruscare.com/