I am grateful that HIMSS National HealthIT Week gives me an opportunity to revisit how many of us who work at Geneia have a very personal connection to the work we do.
Take Kristy Tupper, our director of business services.
Like many of her 40-something peers, Kristy’s first intensive experience with the healthcare system was the aging of a parent. As her mother approached her 70th birthday, her health declined. She started having strokes and began a familiar cycle: emergency department – hospital – rehab – home – emergency department… She accumulated providers as quickly as she accumulated new medications, and she steadily grew weaker and weaker. Her mother’s last episode was a late-night fall in the nursing home on Mother’s Day, 2012. She hit her head, which caused a bleeding stroke.
Within a week, she was dead.
In Kristy’s words,
“I wish the Theon® platform had been available to the physicians, care team and hospital who treated my mother. I believe it could have saved her life. Realizing my mother’s death was preventable is painful, but it also fuels my passion each and every day for helping to grow Geneia and expand the reach of our products. I believe that the Theon® platform makes it much more likely that physicians and providers treating patients like my mother will communicate and collaborate, and ultimately coordinate their care, all of which improve patient health and outcomes. And when that happens, the caregivers closest to the patient won’t have to say I wish I had known…”
Kevin Schwartz, Geneia’s Vice President of Operations
Likewise, the experiences Kevin Schwartz, our vice president of operations, had as his parents aged fueled his interest in improving the healthcare system.
Kevin recounted, “Every one of us is touched by our healthcare system throughout our lives, and most of us have one, two and sometimes many intense periods of healthcare interaction. For me, that was when my mother had a massive stroke.”
Kevin’s mother was hospitalized following the stroke and eventually improved enough to be discharged to a nursing home before passing some months later. About a year later, his father too became ill. Due to the length and complexity of his illness and the need to recount his health experiences again and again to the many providers on his care team, his father began keeping an Excel spreadsheet of all of the healthcare he received. Kevin and some of the members of his father’s care team affectionately referred to this as “his manual EHR.”
On one hand, he was, and continues to be, grateful for the care the many healthcare professionals provided to his mother and father. On the other hand, he emerged from this intense experience with one thought:
The healthcare industry can and should do better.
Natalie Benner, Geneia’s Director of Population Health and Consumer Engagement
In many ways, Natalie Benner, Geneia’s director of population health and consumer engagement, grew up in hospitals. Her mother was sick for much of her childhood and died of cervical cancer when Natalie was 13. Her father had Crohn’s disease and had a major surgery every few years.
For some kids with Natalie’s experience, the hospital is a terrifying place, one to avoid at all costs. Not so for Natalie. She says “The hospital became my safe place. The nurses were caring and nice to me, and I was captivated by all the gadgets.” From an early age, Natalie knew she would work in healthcare.
John Weis, Geneia’s Head of Product Management
John, like many of Geneia’s leaders, is a clinician at heart. He holds a bachelor’s degree in public health and respiratory therapy with a master’s degree in health administration. He spent more than a decade working with adults, children and neonatal infants, often some of the hospital’s most acutely-ill patients.
His work as a respiratory therapist has had a significant influence on his career within healthIT,
"As a respiratory therapist who has witnessed the impact of chronic lung conditions such as COPD and asthma on the healthcare system, I know first-hand healthIT can enable crucial communication between patient and care teams, providing a better way for them to connect and also for patients to stay informed of their health status. Similarly, communication made possible through interoperability can help prevent the next hospital readmission."
Jasmine McCammon, Geneia Principal Data Scientist
From a young age, Jasmine McCammon, one of our principal data scientists, knew she wanted a career in the healthcare field. However, when the sight of blood from a pricked finger in fourth grade caused her to faint, she realized the direct care route was no longer a good option for her.
So, she decided to embark on the scientific research path.
Jasmine attended the University of California at Berkeley where she received a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology. She then went on to develop new genome editing techniques as well as to study genes associated with autism at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, MA.
When her mother experienced three bone breaks from falls at a relatively young age, Jasmine decided that she wanted to make a bigger impact. The breaks were due to a medication making her bones more brittle, indicating a lack of communication and coordinated care. To make the impact she was seeking, Jasmine determined she would need to leave her ‘little row of test tubes’. That’s when she joined the Insight Health Data Science program, which lead her to Geneia.
My Aging Grandmothers: Harriet and Anita
I, too, am motivated by a desire to improve the healthcare system for people who are near and dear to me, especially my aging grandmothers, Harriet and Anita. As I discussed in a Tedx talk, both of my grandmothers are strong, independent women with an acute desire to remain independent and age in their respective homes.
The challenges of trying to be a helpful granddaughter and caregiver from a distance helped to inspire Geneia’s work to create a remote patient monitoring program. It also led us to combine not only predictive analytics, machine learning and state-of-the-art technology but also personalized clinical support. I know from my grandmothers that they need the best of technology and analytics to keep them healthy, but also a human connection.
Geneia’s employees are the heart of the important work we are doing to transform our healthcare system. Like me, the commitment of many of them is inextricably linked to their desire to improve healthcare for their loved ones, and yours.