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Insights at the intersection of tech touch & human touch within healthcare

  • Writer's pictureStephen Jannise

What Can Dogs Teach Us About Healthcare?

The Dogs of Carium (Clockwise from bottom-left): Nellie, Benny, Gatsby, Abbey & Kaya, Silas, and Willie

In a recent Time article, emergency medicine physician Farzon A. Nahvi revealed that he plays a daily game at his practice called “Medical Degree vs. Puppy Dog.” At the end of every day, he asks himself: “would a cute puppy have been more effective in managing my patients’ real needs today than I was?”

Alarmingly, there are days when he gives the win to cute puppies, because dogs are so good at making people feel what they rarely feel in today’s healthcare experiences: “comforted, reassured and cared for.” In his own words:

“Every year, our system equips us with more medicines to prescribe our patients yet less opportunity to sit down beside them and explain how they should be used. Each new administrative initiative brings more tasks to complete and less time to complete them. Staffing cuts…force us to sprint through our days to accomplish the bare minimum of keeping patients healthy, often leaving us unable to perform the critical task of simply slowing down to listen to them.”

It is eye-opening to read a doctor’s sense of helplessness in wanting to bring the human touch back into his care experience and finding he doesn’t always have the time or bandwidth to do so. And it is a perfect analogy — dogs make comforting look so easy, while the healthcare industry struggles mightily with it every day.

Arthur, champion toy wrangler

But it is also, obviously, a perspective made in jest, and we won’t solve today’s healthcare challenges by putting dogs in white coats and dispatching them to every clinic in America.

I know this because I have a 2-year old Cavapoo named Arthur. He is an expert at fetching, cuddling and rolling over. He is terrible at treating cancer, healing broken limbs and guiding preventative care.

So, in lieu of putting unlicensed canines into practice, how do we make patients feel cared for again? Dr. Nahvi couldn’t have said it better: it’s about helping clinicians and caregivers spend less time typing and more time listening. It’s about empowering them to practice at the top of their license and do all the amazing things that we (and our dogs) cannot.

That’s the mission that drives us at Carium — bringing patients and care teams closer together and helping them accomplish the hard work of prevention and healing.

Imagine being a surgeon with a regular influx of patients. Imagine knowing those patients won’t need to ask all their questions in the stress-riddled moments before or hazy aftermath of the surgery — because they’ve got a reliable and consistent connection with your caregivers. Imagine having better visibility into their recovery and making them feel as cared for at home as they did in your operating room.

That’s the peace of mind provided by Atrium Health’s Perfect Care Program, and it’s powered by Carium’s comprehensive virtual care platform.

Patients receive personalized education and reassuring touchpoints for every stage of their procedure. Clinicians receive critical insights in a timely manner without having to dig through digital file piles. The result is always-on care that reduces anxiety for patients and improves efficiency for care teams.

“Through integration with an ever-growing number of tools, monitoring devices and data sources, Carium helps patients stick to their treatment plans and alerts care teams to any divergence from that path to recovery,” says Jessica Shandrowski, Vice President of Product & Customer Success. “Whether issues are detected by a device or perceived by the patient, Carium surfaces those insights and connects that patient directly with their care team to take immediate action.”

We may not be cute puppies, but we are giving care teams the peace of mind that they are truly caring for patients — not treating them like “bureaucratic boxes waiting to be checked off.” And we’re proud of the results: more engaged patients and more efficient care teams.

Many of us at Carium are also dog people. In the words of Dr. Nahvi, we want to help “make our healthcare system a bit less like the sterile bureaucratic machine that it has become, and a bit more like [our] dog[s].” That way, they can stick to what they do best: being the goodest boys and girls.


For an example of our fine furry friends making a tangible impact on healthcare, look no further than the star of this year's ViVE Conference: Captain. Thanks to his pal Bill Russell, Captain was taking selfies all week to raise money and awareness for Alex's Lemonade Stand.

Our Chief Marketing Officer Julie Wolk was proud to get her selfie with Captain (and a faceful of kisses) to lend her support. And shoutout to Holly Russell, Director of Awareness & Production at This Week Health, for a cameo that doubled our donation!

Stop by Alex's Lemonade Stand to learn more about their outstanding efforts to fight childhood cancer.


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