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Turn on the TV! Your doctor wants to talk to you (Part 2)

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

Welcome to the CEO Corner, where Buoy CEO and Cofounder Andrew Le, MD sits down with industry leaders to chat about the provocative topics of healthcare today. Andrew recently spoke with Carina Edwards, CEO of Quil, a digital health platform that offers personalized and interactive health journeys to consumers and their caregivers. In Part 1, Carina explained how Quil’s solutions are taking a cue from the entertainment industry to drive better outcomes. In Part 2, Carina discusses accessibility and healthcare technology, the importance of trust in digital interactions, and her best advice for healthcare IT leaders today.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Andrew Le, MD: As a technology company serving a lot of people over the age of 65, have you designed your solutions specifically for an older population? Or are older people more tech savvy than we think? We get this question a lot, too.

Carina Edwards: We design our solutions to be accessible to everyone. Our platform simply requires access to a browser and the internet. People can interact with our solution with email and text messaging. There are ways to reach every population.

When we think about accessibility and engagement, we focus on personalization. We personalize our solution from the lens of the health system, the provider, and the individual. When they join, we ask people a few quick questions so we understand their goals. We then customize their experience—with images that reflect their perspective, for example—so it looks and feels like their journey. We've also made it very interactive.

Our solution can be personalized for long or short procedures, as well as different populations and insurance plans. We’re able to effectively communicate with a wide range of populations about the next action step in their care.

"When we think about accessibility and engagement, we focus on personalization. We personalize our solution from the lens of the health system, the provider, and the individual."

Carina Edwards, Quil CEO

Andrew: You’re able to reach an astounding diversity of patient types and perspectives.

Carina: Quil is a true R&D effort for scaled innovation. It’s different from a start-up. We incubate and test concepts and then have access to large populations to scale with them.

Andrew: What trend is going to be the big winner over the next 10 years?

Carina: I'm most excited about independent living for seniors. COVID accelerated this trend, but home will become the center of care. “Home” does not necessarily mean four physical walls. It means anytime, anywhere, any device, or whenever there is an opportunity for interaction. My big, exciting 10-year vision is a convergence of the issues we’re working on: allowing people who wear multiple hats to access all they need in one place.

Seniors don’t want cameras in their homes or video check-ins. They want privacy. So we are looking at using ambient sensing—essentially algorithms—to understand patterns in the home. Let’s say every day Mom goes to the kitchen at 9:30, and it's now 11:00. She hasn't been in the kitchen yet. I might get an alert on my phone that says, hey, you might want to check in on Mom. If Mom falls, I sense the fall and can get help to her quickly. She can use her voice in the home to interact with technology in a way that's more natural than a camera “spying” on her.

Andrew: I love that idea of convergence. What do you think is overrated right now in digital health?

Carina: We've anchored the importance of trust. Many people trust their doctor, so when the provider says do this, you do it. It’s not like having all these different coaches trying to get you through different health issues. How many coaches can one person have? If you're an employee today, you might have a pregnancy coach, a diabetes coach, and more.

I wonder how we can move these experiences digitally forward and get them to a better place of trust. I think that's where the magic happens. Right now, it's very fragmented, and we don’t have the proof points about how artificial intelligence and machine learning can help different populations effectively engage.

Andrew: I have one last question for you. There are a lot of entrepreneurs and digital health CEOs out there. You have had so much success. What advice would you offer to others in this field?

Carina: Fundamentally, stay curious. Focus on the problems you solve and the value to your buyer. Refine and refine and confirm and confirm. Make sure you're not listening to an echo chamber of friendlies. Listen to the un-friendlies and the naysayers. Get all the input you can to make sure that you understand the problem and are approaching it holistically.

Own your mistakes and be transparent. We're not miracle workers. We're just people. We show up every day, and when we go to bed, we think about the 40 things we could've done differently. You will always have those moments. And I think your team needs to see that.

Do all of this with people you enjoy and respect. Often, we look for that ideal candidate to join our team, but the right passion, the right curiosity, and the right collaborative nature are so much better than a perfect resume. Trust your gut. It's probably going to be right.

"Make sure you're not listening to an echo chamber of friendlies. Listen to the un-friendlies and the naysayers."

Carina Edwards, Quil CEO

About the participants:

Carina Edwards is the CEO of Quil, the joint venture of Independence Health Group and Comcast, where she leads the development of personalized and interactive health journeys for consumers and their caregivers.

Andrew Le, MD, is the CEO and Cofounder of Buoy Health.