Spring time is here friends! Thank God the rains are here to cool us down in the scorching heat. April is kick back action season to inspire you to get back to the gym and get into shape. Cheer up to all things health and well-being for we have someone in our spotlight that will definitely connect you to all good things in healthy in the office space. Health makes us truly wealthy; an important aspect to promote business profits is addressing the needs of a productive work force in our office space and nation at large. As leaders we should focus to prioritize health in our changing office space environments.
Nairobi our city, our home, is dynamically changing every day. We work from cool office spaces like Nairobi Garage, zoned into an Apple a day to Google calendar our meetings, we use an Uber to commute to our next event, we use Yum to order lunch , we Mpesa our bills and we send flowers to our office space crush via Sendy. In this age of millennial Kenyans, we have no time to stall when technology is broadly dominant in the silicon Savannah. In this tech savvy age we can definitely not leave health out of the equation and it’s time to talk healthy.
Meet Founder of ConnectHealth, Peter Park, our very own man of multiple talents revolutionizing healthcare access in Kenya through technology and talent. Peter also known as Peet, our very own spiderman, he is a true reflection of diligent work ethics combined with plain fun. We caught him on his cool bike; I mean who bikes to work in Nairobi? Peet does, he is creating a new group of trend setters, where it’s all cool to bike to your office space. We are loving it Peet! Born and raised in America, our Peet is a native of the great state of Indiana; he has been living with his wife here in Kenya making our hometown a land of greatness, just like him alike. Peet is a reflection of growing diverse African families, he himself being an American Korean, married to a Kenyan woman with an adopted Jewish child. Peet is also a Harvard MBA graduate, well above impressive is the fact that he is an idealistic and during his undergraduate years he worked in several HIV clinics and camps developing his understanding of the HIV pharmaceutical supply chain industry.Straight out of his undergraduate studies at Middlebury College, he wanted to support the idea of developing support systems for HIV patients that brought him to Kenya and started out in in Eldoret. After working in social services, it took him 8 good years to come up with an academic model that could help physicians in Kenya bring quality access primary healthcare to patients, “I was always interested in entrepreneurship and that brought me to thinking about ConnectHealth. Before this, I was working for venture capital in U.S. for a renewable energy startup and then as a developer for Goldman Sachs. I was working on wind farm project on wind and solar renewable energy worth 1 billion dollars, a big scale project. In terms of the startup itself, I am not a technology guy. It was more about necessity and brick and mortar stuff. I was always interested in entrepreneurship and that brought me to thinking about ConnectHealth. Before this, I worked for a venture capital fund in U.S. and for a renewable energy developer building big wind farms and solar projects. In terms of the startup itself, I am not a technology guy. It was more about necessity and seeing how tech can make the brick and mortar healthcare services become much more impactful. In 2006 Mpesa launched and everyone in Kenya started to appreciate the role of technology. People learned that technology operations can make a huge difference in Kenya. One my specialist doctor friends and I worked in diabetes and chronic disease management clinics near the Ugandan boarder and Lake Victoria region, and were challenged by the queue of really sick patients. There was no way we could get her skill set there permanently – all the doctors are in Nairobi and Eldoret, and that won’t change much over the next 5 years. So I came up with a WhatsApp for healthcare concept so she can manage her patients remotely while on travel, be paid for her services, and the data could be exported to her EMR. This was the starting concept for ConnectHealth.” Peet added.
We asked, so what is the role of Connect Health, we inquired? “Something like tele-health services with an aim to converse with patients. Patients would use ConnectHealth in lieu of visiting the doctor. We are not about the money but a technology partnered with tools like Whatsapp and Mpesa to enhance the access of care, improve the doctor-patient relationship and enhance physician autonomy. The data is compatible to EHRs and we intend to keep communication lines open. Access to health care is now a priority and we intent to make the whole process rationalized for doctors through a Whatsapp tool. We also have plans in the pipeline for implementation of messaging tool on mobile and development of a web app,” Peet explained.
As Founder where do you see ConnectHealth in 5 years? “Julius who is on the tech side of our team has been working with me for a year. And trust me; we’ve been through lots of tough ups and down. But as the Founder of ConnectHealth, I am optimistic and I certainly want to make us a Pan African brand for doctors. We want to be an indispensable tool for doctors, a platform that allows physicians to better manage their patients. It is our duty as team and person to make ConnectHealth a utility for health providers, not a replacement for the whole doctor patient encounter but an enhancement tool. Improving the patient-physician relationship by engaging access to one tool (ConnectHealth) where both parties come together and manage the arc of care. This way the doctors can do their jobs better, keep up with follow up treatments and implement continuous patient compliance while on travel. To improve access and utility for health care providers with better extended services for patients,” Peet acknowledged.
What is the Company Focus Peet? “We are definitely testing the UBER model, if it works it would be awesome to become like Uber or AirBnB. It’s not about the money! We only ask for a small transaction fee out of the whole process. We are still experimenting with the whole business model. However at heart we want doctors and patients to love the service we provide at core for now. The goal is for doctors to have easy access to patients. Patients need two things: “who’s the right doctor for me, and then – how do I access them?” I am currently working with specialist and his existing patients to build on this accessing component. If there’s already a strong doctor-patient relationship, many outpatient visits don’t require actual in-person visitation with doctors. This tool will help keep the communication line open, we want to be a utility resource just like a stethoscope or a lab service. Another tool a doctor or clinical officer can use to ensure the patient care experience is timely and effective. You need to come in and have a line to communicate with your care provider and thus the right kind of care is delivered. Timeliness of care will become a lot more feasible thus hitting two bull’s-eye with one arrow, access and quality,” Peet believes.
How is your ConnectHealth a community resource benefiting Kenyans? “It will improve access to health care providers and will benefit patient care compliance. For example if you are young professional taking care for you diabetic mom, technology can do wonders for you in managing geriatric care. You can get updates from the physician to ensure your loved is following the treatment protocol. Texting and messaging is a pretty much known tech 101. You do not need to be tech genius to figure that out. It’s not rocket science! It’s all about better timeliness and coordination of care. We are addressing a market gap with our technology by helping doctors meet there patient without the cost of additional travel. Plus the patient doesn’t have to pay for the care and service; we are here to provide an efficient communication medium in clinical care. Tech can do a much better impact for quality and access to care, for a nation in whole. We want to improve the health of citizens and you don’t get there just by way of increasing the number of doctors. You got to innovate with technology and building systems that improve access to medical care. We are shifting the health care paradigm by setting up a new infrastructure for coordination of care. The health care market is growing in Kenya at a pretty significant rate. It’s a grilled opportunity and we want to be a valuable tool for health care providers and how they provide services to their patients.” Peet stated.
Peet tell us more about challenges at ConnectHealth? “We face lots of challenges! Choose your team wisely I would reccommend. We had a larger team in terms of our early team. The difference between moving forward and backwards, is not rushing into your early team. Plus as the founder you have to be willing to make quick decisions, which might not be the best you’ve made. You are never going to have perfect data sets because shit is a lot of more complicated. The typical advice we get is don’t do anything, but the only thing you have to do is stick to your gut and keep moving ahead. You will feel like a shit show but that’s the only way to grow and to learn. Screwing up as long as you pick yourself up and moving on before you crush yourself. Also not getting demoralized is important to overcome challenges. Because truth is in startups universe everybody is a shit show, in the beginning until you’ve learnt how to set the stage. Just make those mistakes, and do not die keep and moving forward. What I have noticed with startups if we crawl up and die off to a corner, usually a choice by founders. Don’t give up! I had big learning from last year, as I am amongst the older founders not in my 20’s. Secret is you’re never a 100% ready for it. The experience will test every cheat in your armor. Be resilient and don’t die is the only way to survive. I left a pretty good career which was financially secure and had several advantage points. I have learned how to balance it and trust me startups are worth it!”
Since we are on the question of what it’s worth, in your opinion what maketh a good investment? “A strong resilient founding team with strong skills and talents makes a good investment. Internally, get the right the staff. I did, I got the perfect team now! Also focus on sustainable real growth, no bullshit but real value. Far more important are the users that love you and use your product as an “essential”. A lot of startups chase growth, however we focus on value. Startups are nothing without growth on value; it’s like hitting an oil well when you find something of value. There are lots of things you need to do to establish value. How do people engage? Is there substance to your product? Do people love it? Distribution and regulatory can investors help growth process? I believe that local investors can help create the value of the system. They are the kernel of value to the the entire process. Bringing us back to the heart of any good investment that is identifying a founding team with product and process sense.”
Peet on this note of value tell us about something you are proud, “I am proud of saving lives! It feels awesome that ConnecHealth can save lives. Also I am proud of not giving up on my dream and being resilient. I have developed incredible personal growth; no job would have brought me that. I know it means nothing for the outside world but for me it means a lot.”
Peet’s what your advice for the Kenyan youth? “ I feel that things increasingly important are creativity and be able to connect dots. I think about ways to do that. In a job or your own startup we are always going to need a world for creators. Innovation is somewhat linked to building your dreams. Don’t stop no matter what. Even if you majored in epidemiology in college and want to lead a different career it shouldn’t stop you from doing what you need to do… that is finding your dream, building of your skills and talent. We are always learning, and life is a lifelong college campus where we build our knowledge and wisdom of experience over time. In your heart building your skills, your passions, your dreams should be more valuable. Finding a way to express that idea and not the notion of “work-only” should be the fastest way to reach to your goal. It is like the man in the ring, it’s not about the spectators who are watching the fight it is about the people in the ring marked with dust and dirt. You own the victory even in defeat, because only you can taste the experience of dust and dirt. And if they fail they fail mighty knowing the joys of success and agony of defeat. Unlike the cold souls outside who have no idea what the game is. In the ring you will probably fail but at least you’re trying. And lastly this might sound cheesy but “Be the change you want to see in the world,” kids.”
On a final note Peter left us with a secret tip on maintaining his good health while in the office space, “Best lifehack I’ve ever had: running every day in the morning, even if it’s just for five minutes. Everything aligns in your life from there. You go to bed earlier, and more refreshed, you have energy throughout the day.On the bright side you wake up early and you wouldn’t need caffeine. It sets up everything else… waking up before the sun… you also end up eating better food. Lastly make sure you try to bike to your office space!” Peet insisted.
Here you have it, another one in the can. Health and wealth in the office space by our very own Garage gurus. We hope this season you can grow your courage to experiment with the tarmac and hit the road on your mountain bike, straight to your office space inspired by our health heroes. Learn more here on cool things happening this April at the Garage.