Many of us have had first-hand experience with an unwelcome health diagnosis. Because of this, we can easily recall a difficult time when ourselves or a loved one has received a health diagnosis we were not prepared for and did not want. It may be in that flash of shock in the moment of diagnosis, or it’s in the weeks and months that follow as we try to gather the information and manage the resources we will need. It may even be in the years or decades spent managing the condition – no matter where patients are in their health journey, Lynda Brown-Ganzert, CEO at Curatio, and her team are stepping up to support patients.
Curatio’s mission is to ensure that no patient goes through their health journey alone. Curatio has built a social platform that offers patients the support, information, and tools they need to achieve their best health outcomes. The platform matches patients to other individuals who understand what they are going through, in a private, secure network.
We had a chance to learn more about Curatio from Lynda.
VentureLabs (VL): What led to you starting Curatio?
Lynda: When I was pregnant, I had serious complications arise. My doctor was excellent, but I still found the experience very distressing. I felt very alone throughout the experience and needed not only information on navigating both the healthcare system and the condition, but also more peer support. I soon came to realize, while connecting with other people with a wide variety of health conditions, that I was not the only patient feeling this isolation. The more people I connected with, the more I realized how powerful it would be to be able to share my own experience with others who truly understood.
Shortly afterwards, I drafted a business plan, ran it by some friends in healthcare and digital communication, and the rest is, well, our history. Curatio is now the world’s first social health prescription. Five years after this first business plan, we’re now serving patients, families, and providers in 85+ countries and four languages.
VentureLabs (VL): Please share with us a bit more about Curatio.
Lynda: Our private mobile platform connects patients and their families to personalized support, education, and disease management tools that make living with a health challenge easier. Evidence shows that providing patients with self-management support is an especially promising way to impact better health.
Since our first release, we’ve significantly expanded the platform. Curated information, daily tracking tools, evidence-based programs, fun rewards…we now have many personalized features to support clients in their health journey. We’ve had patients tell us that it’s like having a personal and private support network at their fingertips.
We know that healthcare systems are really fragmented–everywhere, not just Canada and the US. It’s certainly a challenge to work in digital health, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And the trends we just talked about do make change possible.
We don’t want any patient to experience their health journey alone! We are seeing 75% improved health behaviours. No. Patient. Alone.Lynda Brown-Ganzert, CEO of Curatio
VL: What did you do before starting Curatio?
Lynda: I’ve always been a “connector,” bringing people together via digital communications and technology. I’ve worked with several leading consulting firms, advising companies on strategy and business, as well as serving as the president of New Media BC. I also founded GoBe Media, one of the first cross-platform games companies for kids in North America. Currently, I serve as a board director for the Canada Foundation for Innovation and previously served as the chair for the Board of Governors for Simon Fraser University.
VL: How did you decide what market to target?
Lynda: Lack of adherence and self-management in healthcare is a huge problem, with estimates that this issue is costing pharmaceutical companies alone up to $637B globally, each year. That number doesn’t even reflect the costs to the patients (health-wise, financially, or costs to the healthcare system).
We license our branded social health networks to payers, providers, pharmaceutical organizations, and research organizations, providing them the ability to acquire, retain, and empower their patients. All partners in the ecosystem (from patient to provider) benefit from the social network as self-management and adherence rates improve.
VL: What do you see as the exciting opportunities in your industry?
Lynda: There are couple of technology trends in healthcare that digital health companies like us are benefitting from (and leading!) First, there’s a massive shift to a more patient-centric approach where individuals are more empowered to gain control over their own health data. Second, we’re also seeing the simultaneous push to increase accessibility while reducing costs, through technology that drives location-agnostic care (like telemedicine and home-based care solutions).
We’re proud to be leading the charge and capitalizing on these industry trends. Our unique AI and peer-based solution combines social networking with daily disease management tools to offer a novel approach to patient acquisition, retention, and adherence.
VL: What are the threats in your industry?
Lynda: Well, we know that healthcare systems are really fragmented–everywhere, not just Canada and the US. It’s certainly a challenge to work in digital health, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And the trends we just talked about are making change possible.
As well, there’s always concerns about social networks and privacy. Patients understandably want full control over their personal health data. What sets Curatio apart is that unlike in traditional social media and mobile sites, our users own their own data and are provided with a safe space to share and discuss their conditions in a privacy and regulatory compliant environment.
VL: What impact do you want to have in the world or change you want to see or make happen?
Lynda: I’ve said it earlier, but it bears repeating. We don’t want any patient to experience their health journey alone! We’ve demonstrated through a clinical study of patients using Curatio that 80% of users showed an increased interest in self-management, 75% showed improved health behaviours, and 71% showed improved social integration. We’re well on our way to our mission of No Patient Alone, and we’re going to keep going until it becomes a reality.
VL: When did you get the entrepreneurial bug?
Lynda: I started my first business at 14 years-old. My dad had a great job offer in Haida Gwaii off the Pacific Coast of Canada, so we moved there. It’s quite remote and there were not any dance studios.
I loved to dance, so I started up a dance school. I was teacher, recital organizer, front desk person and janitor at times, and the business quickly became profitable in year one. I’ve taken those early-day skills to a number of other entrepreneurial ventures.
VL: What can you say about being a female entrepreneur in 2019?
Lynda: It’s a great time to be a woman in business. There are funding and support programs around–in June of 2019, Curatio was honoured to receive a Women Entrepreneur Fund grant from the federal government in Canada. We’re starting to see a massive shift in the how companies operate, with more women helming more diverse environments and business approaches.
VL: If you had a “magic wand,” what would make it easier for you to succeed in your business?
Lynda: I need to replicate myself and my team!
VL: What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Lynda: Balancing it all – work, family, health. Although, I suspect many of us say that!
No patient should be alone. Curatio is on a mission to give every patient on the planet the support they need.https://www.curatio.me/patients
VL: What keeps you going in the difficult times?
Lynda: I know we are making a valuable difference to actual health outcomes. Our work shows improvements in patients’ ability to self-manage, adhere to a care plan, and communicate with peers. I’ve always been drawn to solving the problems that pop up in front of me, where I can make a contribution, and in a small way, affect the world for the better.
Plus, I live in gorgeous Kelowna BC, so when I get downtime and need to recharge, I’m with my family on the sunny beaches of Lake Okanagan.
VL: What do you look for in your team members as you grow?
Lynda: They need to be passionate about digital health and about making an impact. We want team members who roll up their sleeves to get stuff done. We are a team full of compassionate, smart, and fun individuals.
VL: What does success look like for you?
Lynda: Since starting the platform, we’ve connected over 23,000 patient matches – and we’re still growing! I think we’re well on our way to establishing ourselves as the prime offering for patient engagement and support, and we’re hearing great feedback from our patients and their families along the way.
VL: Do you have a mantra you live by?
Lynda: If there’s a problem in front of me, I can fix it.