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Finding My Tribe

I’m naturally intuitive and always follow “the signs” I see. Let this be the start of the story of why I picked Carium as my team — and they picked me. Recent family struggles with the healthcare system, the “pinksocks” community, and origami all presented signs that steered me to Carium, the tribe I recently joined that is helping to transform healthcare.


My First Sign: Family Struggles

Christmas through January this past year was tough for my usually “healthy” family. We are a modern-day version of the extended family, with the majority of the members of four generations living within 30 miles of each other. My young kids attend school, are regulars at our local YMCA, and play soccer. My husband and I work and also balance our time between parenting and fun. My parents are retired — they enjoy spending time together golfing in the summer and skiing in the winter. My grandparents recently moved into a senior living place, and enjoy happy hours and watching Maple Leafs hockey games with friends.


But this postcard picture rapidly changed two days after Christmas, when my mom received “the call” — according to her recent pathology report, she had cancer. Instantly she was thrust into the chaos that is the typical patient experience in 2020: tracking down her medical records from various providers, scheduling appointments with new ones using lists of recommendations from other providers and friends, filling out endless paperwork by hand, and more. Knowing I was in healthcare IT, she kept asking, “Why can’t they all just have access to my data and share it?,” or “Should I be doing this or that? I’m not sure what to do next.” While the stress of a cancer diagnosis is in itself frightening, the most crushing experience in her journey so far has been that her post-surgery update call was delayed due to a jammed fax machine.


As this was going on with my mother, my grandmother fell while at lunch with a friend and was hospitalized. While at the hospital her health spiraled downwards. Everyone agreed she needed to get out, but discharge required various administrative steps. Again, the reality of the miserable state of today’s patient experience was on display: poor communication and the inability to share data among her primary care provider, specialists, hospitalists, nurses, community care navigator, health plan, and endless family members. All wanted to help but lacked a common connection to do so. Getting her assigned a home health aid took five days, and the back and forth between all the parties was chaotic and painful.


Thankfully, both ladies turned the corner. My mother is undergoing treatment while on her annual six-week trip to Florida with my dad. My grandmother is back “home,” and back to enjoying some social time with friends. Yet, I couldn’t help but think — can’t we in the healthcare community do better? People want to be healthy. People want to be empowered. People want to be connected to their care team. People want their health data liberated. People want healthcare personalized to them. People want their healthcare proxies included in times of need. So, it got me thinking, what companies are looking to help people with all of these things that ultimately impact their health? I didn’t know at the time that I could find one that addressed all of these issues — which I have, in Carium.


My Second Sign: Pinksocks

In early February, I confided in a friend my desire to join a company that could provide solutions to these exact problems — my friend connected me to Carium and told me they were looking for a sales leader. Whoa! I was thrilled because I had been following them online for the past 18 months. I highly respected their mission-driven focus on helping healthcare organizations deliver outcomes-oriented, patient-centered care by supporting and empowering people like my family members along their unique life journeys — all virtually.


After a call with the amazing Lygeia Ricciardi, I quickly connected with various other members of the team via video. Each person I met with was a ray of light, and left me feeling really good — sharing their personal commitment to changing healthcare and providing powerful tech to connect people to positively advance their personal health journeys. While wrapping up one such call with Nirav Modi, we connected around our “joint membership” in the pinksocks tribe (a mostly-virtual healthcare community centered around passion, empathy, caring and connection, and that believes in seeing the good, being the good, and sharing the good. Does it get any better?).


Nirav mentioned that he noticed the pinksocks tribe was gifting luggage tags, and that he really wanted one. I had noticed too, but didn’t know where to get one. Later that evening, when going through the mail, I opened a package containing two pinksocks luggage tags, stickers, and a handwritten note from the co-founder of the tribe, Nick Adkins (here’s my tweet about it!). Synchronicity. This was a welcoming sign and validation that Carium was also my tribe. You can only imagine how excited I was to find out that they felt the same way about me. I will always remember Mike Hatfield, chairman of Carium, saying to me, “Julie, how you got connected to us through Lygeia just fits so perfectly into our story — how our tribe has found each other.”


My Third Sign: Origami

Fast-forward to day 7 of my working at Carium, in early March. Our team was onsite with one of our health system partners, which shares our view of person-centric health. It was an all-day, strategic planning session to map out the deliverables of the next department’s rollout of our platform, and it was everything a good partnership meeting should be.

The focus was on delivering exceptional experiences to their participants, streamlining workflows for care teams, reviewing positive patient outcomes and experiences, brainstorming collaborative wellness program details, mapping out time-bound expectations from both parties, and sharing success stories, some of which included innovative approaches like gamification.


As I looked down at the conference room table, I saw a few origami cranes scattered along the middle. Thinking about an origami mobile that hangs in my home office window, I couldn’t help but find these incredible. First, I love them! Secondly, I appreciate the skill required to make one. Third, they always bring joy. The leader of the wellness team had made them; she always brings paper with her and often makes them during the course of meetings to share. It had to be another sign.


During our lunch break, Nirav Modi grabbed one of our client’s wellness program brochures and in a few minutes folded it into a flying origami bird. What? Magic. For me, this final bird represented our ability to take our client’s care and deftly transform it into a scalable, virtual health model that will serve their entire community.


As I type this, it is late March. COVID-19 has quickly changed everything. When I joined Carium a month ago, the novel virus was a distant worry in China. Now it’s a worldwide pandemic. Despite — and in part because of — the loss, pain and strain it is causing, particularly in healthcare, I have never felt more blessed. I am honored to be part of this mission-driven team that is able to help our partners support all of their patients remotely. Every day our team of innovators is providing our healthcare partners evolving solutions to care for their patients remotely. As a global community, we will get through this, and I know that I am at Carium for a reason — and we are all in this together. You can learn more about what we are doing in response to COVID-19, and please reach out if we can help you: info@carium.com.

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