1. What do you feel are the key drivers of health care transformation?
I believe one of the key drivers is data. We live in a time of the "quantified self". From fitness trackers to calorie counters, increasingly, we are monitoring all sorts of metrics associated with our bodies and our health. And, those metrics yield all sorts of interesting data. Over time, I expect more of that data to be leveraged to create a personal health profile that is universally accessible and transferable across physicians and health systems. It's already started, but I expect it will become more sophisticated and more accessible in the coming years. So much of healthcare hinges on putting pieces of a puzzle together to understand root causes of issues in order to provide the best treatment. Take addiction, for example. In many cases, addicts are suffering from anxiety, depression or PTSD. They turn to drugs as a way to self medicate and cope. But, as a clinician, if you don’t understand these underlying conditions, you are just treating the symptoms, and you aren’t likely to be successful. One of the things I am most proud of at Total Brain, is the way we are using data to inform and improve care. Our digital assessment measures 12 brain capacities and screens for risk of 7 mental conditions. In less than 20 minutes, we can provide an individual with an enormous amount of insight and self-awareness about their strengths and weaknesses, which they can use to approach life differently and better care for themselves. And, in a clinical setting, that same data can help clinicians better understand patient needs and create personalized treatment plans that have a far better chance of yielding positive outcomes.
2. How did your organization prepare for a virtual work environment? What changes did you make to ensure employees continued to stay happy, healthy, and productive?
Our company was predominantly virtual prior to the pandemic. So, the transition during COVID was relatively seamless. That said, we did have to jettison our quarterly, in person, "retreats" which had served as a great live interaction to balance off a lot of Zoom calls. In lieu of those retreats, we hosted a virtual retreat over Zoom, which took place for a few hours over several days. It included presentations from executives, interactive sessions between teams, and even a virtual cocktail hour with "live" musical performances from some of our employees. We have continued to introduce smaller, virtual social gatherings, such as virtual poker nights, as a way to continue team building efforts. We have also tried to foster a more open dialog with employees, acknowledging the stress and anxiety we have all been feeling, and leading with vulnerability. I think all of these efforts have served our employees, and our company, well.
3. How have you helped your employees manage stress caused by the pandemic?
Given the platform that Total Brain offers, we believe its important to walk the talk. So, we encourage our employees to make use of the tools we've built, including regular monitoring of their mental health and brain performance, including stress levels, and regular use of our self-care tools. We will often incorporate some of those self-care exercises into meetings, for example, kicking off an all hands call with a breathing exercise, or starting team meetings with a short guided meditation to help us center ourselves and release the stresses of the day. Finally, leading with vulnerability, and creating a culture of empathy and dialog have helped make people feel less alone in the stress and anxiety of the day.
4. In your opinion, how can employers best engage their employees in their health and well-being, especially during the pandemic when a majority of the workforce is remote?
Engagement is key. The best wellbeing programs in the world are pointless if employees are not availing themselves of those programs. At Total Brain, we sell a digital platform, but our true offering is much more robust. It's wrapped in programs and services intended to help companies foster a more open dialog around mental health, improve awareness around the science of the brain, and ultimately, engage employees in usage of the digital tools. Increasingly, we are called on to provide executive and manager level training, conduct employee webinars, etc. We believe that the best way to drive engagement is to start with buy-in at the highest levels of the organization. If leaders are bought into the program, and are willing to open a dialog around the program, then that gives managers and employees encouragement to participate too. Topical challenges and incentivized contests can certainly help induce usage, but if the top down buy-in isn’t there, then often you are incentivizing unsustainable behavior and not creating true engagement. We always strive for quality engagement.