The Canadian Women's Network shares member achievements; the challenges they overcame, and the advice they want female entrepreneurs everywhere to know.
Article originally posted here.
Alexandra has been practicing as a medical doctor for over 20 years and leading in executive leadership positions in the healthcare system which she believes is the Co-Founders’ “hidden unfair advantage”.
We enjoyed reading about the challenges in the Health Innovation world and learning how practitioners are turning every gap into an opportunity. We hope you enjoy this too!
Q. How did you develop the idea of Careteam?
From my early days in hospitals, I kept asking, ‘How can this be done better?’ Often, the answer was through new technology. I got deeply involved in implementing health technology that others had invented, and successfully oversaw deployments of over $100 million across thousands of clinicians. Then, all of us in healthcare became increasingly frustrated as these technologies were created by people with good intentions who didn't understand our needs and workflows. Developing tech for healthcare is like designing in outer space: if you're an amazing builder on Earth, it prepares you for being an amazing builder on the moon, but it’s not enough — there's so much more complexity to it. So, at some point, I got frustrated enough to say that we can and should be able to do better by building the kinds of tools that clinical experts and patients want, and that led to what I do now with Careteam.
Q. Can you tell me about some of the potential you see on the horizon for Careteam Technologies?
We're set to support health teams managing complex chronic diseases, which affect one in three people in the US and Canada. So if you think about a third of the population using us firsthand, and then whoever's taking care of them being part of their Careteam support team, we're talking about our software being on the homescreen of every phone. That is the kind of future that builds a massive company and it also creates a better future for us as individuals because it allows us to travel, live, work, and have our healthcare be consistently following us, as opposed to being locked in individual systems of different hospitals and apps. I think that's the kind of future that we should get excited about and it is also inevitable. That's how healthcare will be one day, why can't we get there faster?
Q. Your background is as a medical doctor. How did that experience in the medical field transfer into the entrepreneurial space?
I've been practicing for over 20 years, but I was also in executive leadership positions in the healthcare system. That's the other advantage I had, having a perspective as a clinical physician and as an executive physician. I would write those RFPs or review privacy protocols. And so a lot of things that are hard for health startup founders to understand about how healthcare functions is the standard from where myself and my co-founders came from. That's a hidden unfair advantage, as they call it.
Q. How does your continued medical practice and the experience of being a physician help support you on your founder journey?
Investors often ask me what’s the one patient case that inspired Careteam, and it’s not just one — I literally have thousands. Every time I practice there are more that get added and that’s who I think of when I think of Careteam. The other thing that oftentimes people don't understand about physicians is we’re all used to 100-plus hour work weeks as a baseline minimum. Living in this combination of clinical practice, teaching, researching and so on is how I came up in the profession, except now instead of doing research and teaching, I'm running a tech company and building out the kinds of tools that I think need to exist.
Q. How do you incorporate the values of diversity and inclusion in Careteam?
First, through the executive team — I’m very happy that we have three women on our executive team — our Chief Financial Officer, Chief Revenue Officer and myself are women, and not all of us are white, which is also really good. We’ve also achieved a diversity of ages, with some who are older and some who are younger too.
Diversity is key to success especially in challenging projects. Diversity needs to make you uncomfortable. Creativity comes from having conversations that come from different perspectives, and that means that people will question things that you take for granted, will give you a different perspective on things that you're not even seeing because they see it, but it's invisible to you. And so, by speaking out on these issues, I attract people who are seeking an environment where they can bring their true selves to work. In the interview process we actively look for folks who don't agree with us and who intelligently question what we say. We also regularly look at our organization and ask who is missing, how can we do an even better job of actively seeking out people who are different. At the core of any big innovation is usually a very diverse group of people.
Q. What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a company?
It’s a domain-wide issue. There is unfortunately a lot of skepticism in the health technology space because in the last two decades, most companies, big and small, have over-promised and under-delivered. We’ve had to climb uphill to simply prove that our product works and delivers the results we say it delivers. One of our customers said, ‘You have to see it to believe it.’ which is true, but doesn’t quite work as a credible marketing tagline. That’s why we’re so focused on creating data to help our investors, customers and users see the value we create for them.
What piece of advice would you share with other female founders?
In addition to CWN, another great organization I’m involved with that supports women founders is called The Forum, and one of the things that they recommended is to look for allies and look for sponsors. It's not enough to have mentors or people who cheer you on. You need people who are willing to do introductions, step up and act on the intention of helping you. So look for who your allies are and who your sponsors are — and remember they can be both men and women, and they can also be peers. I am grateful for the network of amazing people supporting my journey and happy to pay it forward.
Thank you, Alexandra!
If you’d like to be considered for our CWN Founder Spotlight, please reach out to Armita Maroufi, Partnership Manager at CWN, and share more about your company.
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