The building of a compassionate company with Ayogo
Ayogo provides a way for clinicians to monitor, track, and respond to the psychosocial determinants of their patient’s health by building coherent interactive programs for patients.
SFU VentureLabs got a chance to chat with Michael Fergusson, CEO of Ayogo, and discuss how their company thrives on creating a community of compassionate, talented, and mission-focused people.
80% of Healthcare outcomes for patients are attributable to non-clinical factors. “There’s a range of psychosocial factors which influence a patients’ success. Your perceived self-efficacy, literacy, social connectivity, absence or presence of mood disorders like depression, and so on.” A clinician creates a care plan, which Ayogo helps connect to what they call a Life Plan, focused on helping a patient experience success in terms that make sense to them in the context of their everyday life. “A Life Plan is written and understood in the ‘native language’ of a patient’s real life.”
“You care for a person, not a condition. Understanding the totality of that person allows you to tailor your support for them so that they get what they need when they need it.”Michael Fergusson
It’s hard to argue against the notion that success starts with having a great team. Ayogo’s approach to team building has played a large role in their success of continual growth and innovation. “Your first success has to be hiring the right people. It’s amazing to me how often people try to do this second.”
Ayogo has won over a dozen awards including being named one of the 100 most innovative mHealth companies in the world by mHealth Journal (twice!). When we asked Michael how Ayogo has found such success in the challenging market of healthcare he stated, “because we have a mission we really believe in and have been successful in recruiting the smartest, kindest and most compassionate people to participate in that mission.”
Michael believes that “your mission must be at the center of everything you do,” including and especially your recruitment process. Most company leaders will tell you that recruiting talented and smart people is important. Ayogo’s recruitment process focuses first on screening for people who align with their mission to compassionately change the world, before screening for skills. How do they do that? They screen for it by simply asking the right questions. “One of the first questions we ask anybody who comes to work with us is: How does compassion play a role in your professional life? Virtually everybody who has come to work with us has said that no one has ever asked them that before. If you want your employees to embody a compassionate corporate culture, you have to value that enough to ask it first. Skills are easier to test and screen for, and so most companies default to that as their only structured method of selecting candidates.” At Ayogo they act on their values by continually putting them first, promoting and integrating them in a structured way into every aspect of their company.
“There are no substitutes for really caring about what you’re doing and really caring about each other.”Michael Fergusson
One of the ways Ayogo lives and refreshes its values is through rituals and traditions like the “Ayogi of the month”(AOTM), where “whoever is the current AOTM selects the next person and gives a little speech about how that person made their life better and improved the life of the company. The incoming AOTM gets to hear their colleagues say something meaningful, recent, and true about them and how they have touched their colleagues’ life and work.” Just another one of the ways Ayogo lives its values.
Many companies have diversity plans and while those are a great step in ensuring equality within the workplace, Ayogo prides itself on having a really diverse workforce and having done absolutely nothing to make that happen. “To me, a lack of diversity is a symptom not a cause of companies failing to serve their communities and understand them,” Michael expressed. He honed in on the importance of understanding the community around you. “We just recruit the best people we can. If it turns out that roughly half of them are women, that’s because roughly half the people in our world are women. It should not be surprising that when our recruiting delivers the best people, it turns out they look like the community!”
After hearing about the unique and inspiring ways Ayogo has built its team, company, and culture, we wanted to know “what’s next?”
Ayogo will be releasing the next version of their product platform sometime in the next 6 weeks and are focusing on new clinical areas such as mental health. Michael also just added a new COO, “Rana Chreyh, a wonderful human being and very competent leader and engineer.” Ayogo is continuously growing their team in interesting ways and believes that “every person who comes to the company changes it, leading us into directions that we didn’t expect.”
“ Companies are vehicles for people. And it needs to take you somewhere that matters to the collective will of the people that are there. It is that collective wisdom and will that truly drives our company mission.”Michael Fergusson
While closing our conversation with Michael, it was clear that working in healthcare is very gratifying. “To meet people whose lives, in some cases, you’ve saved or would be much worse if it was not for some system that you had a part in building. We don’t save people’s lives on our own, we work with Clinicians. But: we are part of that picture and that is deeply gratifying and meaningful – it gets me up in the morning every day, excited!”
Learn more about Ayogo at ayogo.com