‘Tis the Season to Help Patients Around the World
Tune in to This Just In at 2:30 pm ET to hear Justin Barnes and Jennifer Dennard talk about this campaign.
The #healthITchicks community is a big believer in “Doing Good & Giving Back” (as many of our tweets can attest), which is why we’ve decided to partner with nonprofit startup Watsi to kick off our first annual holiday giving campaign.
By combining your generous donations with Watsi’s innovative giving platform, we can help fund medical care for patients in need around the world. Please take a few minutes to donate – spread a little holiday cheer and help us reach our goal of $1,000 by Friday, January 8.
Looking to learn a bit more about Watsi? I had the opportunity to ask operations guru Katya Lavine a few questions about the company’s evolution and goals, as well as her take on the role of women in technology today.
What was the impetus for starting Watsi?
Our founder, Chase Adam, was serving in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica after college. He was on a bus one afternoon when a woman boarded the bus with her son – she passed around his medical chart and asked for donations for his healthcare. Chase noticed almost everyone donated, and he got the idea that technology could make this happen on a much larger scale. When he returned from the Peace Corps he founded Watsi, named after the town he was traveling through on the bus. Watsi uses technology to connect donors to patients around the world.
How have you seen the nonprofit’s platform improve healthcare access for patients around the world?
We’re using technology to make global health operations and funds allocation processes far more efficient. On the hospital side, our platform makes it easy for us to exchange information, funds, and data in real time. This reduces the amount of time it takes for partners to spend on administration, and gives them more time to care for larger volumes of patients.
On the donor side, we’re using our platform to allow donors to fund healthcare for patients with zero overhead cost, so 100% of every donation goes directly to the patient – no questions. We’ve automated our transparency document which details every funds transfer, and publicizes our operational costs.
We continue to automate our operations to reduce administrative processes, thus allowing us to scale and fund millions more patients to come.
How did you become a part of the Watsi team? What sort of impact do you want to make?
After my own series of encounters with our broken healthcare system, I knew I wanted to help change it. Right after college I worked at a public health clinic in San Francisco, and my roommate was volunteering with Watsi. I heard about the work they were doing – combining technology and storytelling to fund healthcare – and knew it was right up my alley.
I studied English and creative writing in college, so I’m especially interested in how leveraging storytelling within medicine can improve patient outcomes. Much of my work at Watsi now involves managing the patient narratives on our site, and the process of a patient’s initial submission all the way through to when their final treatment update is sent to donors.
Personally, I want to keep making sure we’re representing patients with respect and dignity, and honoring their stories – which is difficult to do when publishing someone’s health condition on the Internet. As an organization, our goal is to build out our platform over the next five years and provide healthcare to 1 million patients by 2020.
What advice can you offer young female professionals looking to work in the nonprofit, healthcare, and/or technology fields?
If you’re passionate about it, just do it, and do it now! We need more women in medicine and in tech. Don’t be afraid of healthcare because it feels broken beyond repair, or that it’s a “risky” field to enter. I think there’s nothing more noble than taking the risk – whether it’s becoming a provider, or making an impact in healthcare through business and technology. We’ve seen the potential of technology to connect billions of people on platforms like Facebook, so it’s 100% possible to do the same for healthcare.
Finally, what gender-based workplace topics have resonated with you over the last year?
I’d love to see more women in technology. Tech companies have publicized internal goals to make this happen, and in theory that’s starting to hold other companies accountable. The progress is slow. Fortunately, at Watsi we have kick-ass women and an incredibly supportive culture, but I’m well aware that all around me it’s a problem that needs addressing.
This article was written by Jennifer Dennard and was originally published on LinkedIn.