Sep 29, 2021

Innovation in Healthcare Technology, with Jenn Roberts

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Jenn brings 20+ years experience in health management and consulting to Hello Heart including roles at AJG and Mercer consulting firms. A former professor of Health at her alma mater the University of Houston and exercise physiologist by training, Jenn began her career in clinical research on multiple NIH and biopharma studies focused on cardiovascular health generating multiple publications highlighting successful interventions.  She then moved into the employer space designing award winning wellness programs delivering clinical outcomes and ROI. 

Jenn leads consultant relations for Hello Heart and serves as a clinical subject matter expert. She is married with 3 children, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 bunnies, and a gaggle of chickens on her small, sustainable farm "Robertshire," just outside of Houston.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Hello Heart is innovating within the intersection of technology and healthcare by designing app-connected, customized health monitoring solutions
  • How the outbreak of the global pandemic has highlighted the access challenges that exist within our healthcare system, and how marketing is helping bridge these gaps
  • How the "hook model" Hello Heart, Facebook and Tiktok employ works, including a trigger, an action, and a reward
  • How Hello Heart targets potential clients and uses data to highlight the return on investment they can offer to potential customers
  • How consolidations within Hello Heart's niche present marketing challenges, and how Jenn and her team are working to overcome these competitive challenges
  • How Hello Heart has designed their app to reduce healthcare inequities and provide access to vital healthcare tools
  • How exciting modern technological innovations like VR are improving many aspects of our healthcare industry, and why the future looks bright for innovation, and for patients!


Additional resources:  

Show Transcription:

Intro: Welcome to A Brave New Podcast, the podcast all about how brave entrepreneurial companies are unlocking their business potential using inbound marketing. Here is your marketing expert and host Polly Yakovich.

Polly Yakovich: Welcome back to A Brave New Podcast. I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Jenn Roberts to the podcast today. She is the VP of Consultant Relations. She's a clinical subject matter expert at Hello Heart, and she is going to explain a lot more about what Hello Heart is doing as far as healthcare innovation is concerned. We're going to talk about healthcare innovation, how you bring it to market, what people are looking for. So many of the things that are happening in healthcare today. And Jenn is such a vast knowledge, so I'm really excited to talk to you, Jenn. Thank you so much for coming on.

Jenn Roberts: Thanks for having me, Polly.

Polly Yakovich: Absolutely. Can you just give people a little bit of your bio? What have you been doing in your career? What are you doing now? Just give us the roundup.

Jenn Roberts: Yeah. So I am an exercise physiologist by training and I started my career doing clinical research for big trials, like National Institute of Health, things like that, primarily focused on cardiovascular disease prevention. A lot in hypertension, because 45% of us adults have hypertension and about 75% are uncontrolled. So from there, got a little bit into the consulting space because it turns out employers need to use that data as well to keep their populations healthy. So transitioned into that and taught for quite a few years at the University of Houston, which I love. Go [inaudible]. In the Department of Health Education as well.

And currently I'm leading a team at Hello Heart, where we focus on heart health. So it's a digital therapeutic where you have a remote, smart blood pressure monitor that Bluetooths to an app. You can also Bluetooth the glucometer. And with that information, it takes AI, and it's the same kind of AI that's used by TikTok and Facebook. So I think we know how addictive those can be.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Jenn Roberts: And it really customize it for your age, your reported gender, your geography, how much you're using it, what your readings look like, what coaching elements you like to go to. Do you love all the recipes and give them thumbs up or do you give the mindfulness moments all thumbs down? And it really creates this very unique experience for the individual user. So that's what we've been working on and it's been great.

Polly Yakovich: That's incredible. How are you getting your product into market? Are you going through employers or payers or everyone? Clinicians.

Jenn Roberts: Yeah, it's all three of those.

Polly Yakovich: Okay.

Jenn Roberts: Because like I was saying, hypertension is a problem for about half of US adults and keeping that in mind, hypertension is also at the core of improving diabetes and improving hyperlipidemia and then those secondary and tertiary conditions, chronic conditions that come with cardiovascular disease. So basically everybody needs to be checking their blood pressure and know what that's like, and that's the core of it.

So we do focus on the employer market just because 60% of Americans get their insurance through their employer or their spouse's employer. And with that, we do partner with different, I would say, carriers and clinical practices, but also we have this really great relationship with CVS and Aetna.

Polly Yakovich: Nice.

Jenn Roberts: And so CVS is the pharmacy benefit manager, Aetna is the ASO. We are CVS's preferred health point solution for heart health. So that's amazing.

Polly Yakovich: Amazing, yeah.

Jenn Roberts: Because there's so many people across the country who have CVS for their pharmacy or have Aetna for their medical insurance. So it's really allowing us to branch out all over the country. So it's been a good experience to work with a bunch of different types of groups, and even the consultants, especially health management consultants, because they are so critical to the brokerages to really vet these types of digital therapeutics or point solutions.

So it's kind of a push and pull. Can you lower an employer's medical costs for their medical plan? Can you lower the cost for an individual, for an employee? And there's things you can do. You can shift costs from one bucket to the other. You can send your carriers out to RFP and try to get a better price every few years, but then what else can you do? Then you really have to dig into that population health and that health management and help people essentially on an individual level and on an aggregate population health level. And that's where Hello Heart and so many of these other digital solutions are coming into play now.

Polly Yakovich: That's so great. I have so many questions, but one I want to start with is I know you've been involved in at least a couple different organizations tackling healthcare innovation, which is such a challenging place to be. It's an exciting place to be. You're solving important problems, but what are some commonalities that you're seeing with how you tackle healthcare innovation, how you bring it to market, how you get consumers to adopt your app or your digital strategy or whatever it is that you're bringing to them?

Jenn Roberts: That's a big question, Polly.

Polly Yakovich: I know, sorry.

Jenn Roberts: But let me just give this example where we're at right now. One thing that is a positive from COVID, it has absolutely exposed cracks in our healthcare system in the US.

Polly Yakovich: Oh yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jenn Roberts: And people who would have never done a remote, a telemed, a virtual, a telephonic, a digital solution, had no choice. So that really big hurdle of five or 10% of people in a certain group would use this type of a solution. Now people had no choice and it also helped individual practices and clinicians and vendors really figure out a way to like, how do we make this happen? How do we ... whether it be virtual primary care, like what we're doing with Heart Health or with muscle skeletal, how do we get these in the hands of consumers?

And it's been a fast moving world in that area. And I think the other piece of the digital element to your point on the marketing or adoption or engagement is that we know things out there that work for social media. And there are a lot of preconceived notions that maybe people who are 60 and above aren't really doing social media or people of lower income don't have access to wifi. And these were perceived barriers. That's absolutely not true. And that's what we've seen. And that's partly the customization. And I'll just refer back to Hello Heart. The customization of the app experience to really want to engage people and use this Hook Model if you're familiar with that. And it really just has to take being able to meet people where they're at, when they're ready.

So that's not necessarily going to be okay, at four o'clock I'm going to stop working so I can talk to my health coach about exercising. Or I have time to make this appointment this time. So you really have to be able to offer on-demand services, and it may be at 10:30 at night is when they're accessing this information or accessing these clinical services. So I think flexibility and scheduling and just really easing any burdens that there might've been of getting over a technology hurdle have been the biggest changes and everyone's done it in some way, which is so exciting.

Polly Yakovich: Well, and I think too, a lot of people have talked about how accelerated the adoption of a lot of whatever it is, telemedicine, digital access, talking with your therapist on Zoom. It moved all of that adoption forward so many years, but I think one of the sticking things hopefully is people realized it's so much easier to fit it into their life if they're willing to accept that experience rather than the in-person experience.

Jenn Roberts: Yes. And I'm glad you brought up mental health, because that's the perfect example. A big barrier for people agreeing to start that journey for themselves or for a family member is that stigma that's still out there. And by having to talk to someone on the phone to make an appointment, sit in a waiting room with other patients and be able to do the video or do the audio as much as you feel comfortable, just takes away a lot of burden. And again, with COVID the mental health stress and anxiety, everybody is just a little bit higher than they were before, if not a lot higher. And thinking about that relating it to chronic conditions, somewhere around 60% of people with chronic conditions have a comorbidity with depression or anxiety. Because once you realize I have a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure for the rest of my life, and I have to manage this for the rest of my life, that's tough.

And at the same time, if you're stressed and anxious, you could be raising your blood pressure just temporarily in that moment. So there really is a push and pull between that. And so one of the cool things that I like the most about the Hello Heart coaching and part of their app is you may have a high blood pressure reading and you'll get a question that says, "Are you feeling stressed or anxious?"

And if you say yes, then there's a stress and anxiety screener. And if that comes out high, then here's some different coaching modules that you might like. You can try them out, give thumbs up, thumbs down. If it's an employer, or if it's a medical carrier, here's your EAP number, your employee assistance program number, or here's a single sign on link to your disease management program related to mental health. So I think part of it is also we all have to work together in the same health ecosystem. Not really we're doing all of this and you're just on the side. No, it all has to be in a circle, everybody working together, cross-referring into these different programs to make the most out of everything, because well-being is a 360 degree view you need to take of it.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, absolutely. Can you go back and just define for people listening? You mentioned it for one second. Can you talk about the Hook Model just briefly and let people know what that is if it's unfamiliar to them?

Jenn Roberts: So the Hook Model was coined by some researchers at Stanford, and this is the TikTok and Facebook methodology that you use and you get a trigger. So the trigger is like a pop-up or let's say Instagram. Like your friend posted a new picture and you're like, "Oh, okay." So you get notification, you have an option to do it or not. See, then you take an action. Like in the case of Hello Heart, it may say, "Have you checked your blood pressure today?" You take your blood pressure. Then you get a reward screen. It literally is just like, "Yay, you ..." You get a smiley face, you get a dancing dog, you get like a "Congratulations, Jenn. Your blood pressure looks great." And then you have that investment after that point. And it's just a loop that keeps going.

What's nice about it, it's not forced. And the more you engage, the more customized it is. So I don't need anybody to remind me or set an appointment for myself to look at the TikTok videos my son is putting up. Because I need to be doing that, but I don't need a reminder. I'm already getting my push notifications on my iPhone and I'm like, "Oops, he posted another one. Let me go see what this one looks like," type of a thing. And some are funny and he gets a nice comment and some are not and I say, "Let's take that one down." But he gets the thumbs up or thumbs down from me on those.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Talk about how ... So, so many of these healthcare innovation companies, products, apps, services, I think they're really born out of somebody's personal passion or seeing a gap in the marketplace. So in your case, so many people suffer from hypertension. There's this need to be monitoring it, et cetera. And I've way oversimplified it. I know. How do you then take these products to market? How do you figure out like we know there's this problem. We think we could really solve it, but also what's the addressable market? How do we make money? What's the best audience to sell it to? What's that marriage look like?

Jenn Roberts: I think you nailed it. Someone has to have an idea that they want to innovate and make better. And our [crosstalk]-

Polly Yakovich: And most people in my experience, they're not looking ... Well, I mean, it'd be nice if they made money, but they're looking to solve a problem. They're passionate about the problem or they have a family experience. I don't mean to make it sound callous. I think people are really looking to solve what are massive gaps in the US healthcare system.

Jenn Roberts: There's a perfect example of that where I'm at Hello Heart and it was one of the reasons why I was drawn to that company. So our president, who's also the founder and inventor with her team of the technology, not to take her story, but had a very close family member who was going through cancer at the time. And there's a lot of issues with coordination of electronic medical records, and how do I share this? And when you're in recovery, you need to constantly be taking your vitals. So she was his caregiver doing this and she just thought there's got to be a better way. And she really distilled it down to something simple. And she said, "Well, could we do this blood pressure? And could we be able to easily share it with his doctor? And how could we do that?"

And I've really simplified the story. It's super compelling if you've seen some of her videos on YouTube when she's telling it herself. But from there, they did a few proof of concepts to the consumer market. Like one, is this actually working? And two, will people engage in and how do we refine it from there? And a lot of data. Digging in on that, getting feedback. All the thumbs up and thumbs down on what people like and what they don't like and how it needs to be customized. And there's actually a really good study out in a medical journal, comparing the outcomes of Hello Heart and the engagement levels to other clinically validated tools working on hypertension. It's significantly higher, about two times the outcomes, and three to four times the engagement.

And it really is. The authors of this study, what they said was it was the tracking. So being able to track and understand. The gamification, that's where the app and the AI goes, as well as in the health education and then notification and alerts. So it's all right there. It's all for you when you're ready. And as I've dug in a little bit more, because AI to social media and apps were not really my area of experience. I was like, "Wow, that's very interesting, different type of data to work with. "And then how you marry that with the clinical outcomes data to then continue to improve the product and the solution.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. How do you determine the best audience for your product or service? What are organizations like yours doing to get your app into the hands of the consumer?

Jenn Roberts: I think there's some really good national surveys that come out from brokerages, because I'm primarily focused in the employer market and they will survey all of their clients, which are employers. So they have hundreds of thousands of lives across the US that are represented in these surveys and see what they're asking for. What is the HR team asking for on behalf of their individual employees, their spouses, and the dependent. And what's shown on ... I've looked at three different ones that have come out for last year that have come out this year, it's digital health. And so much that they're doubling down, even incentivizing digital health. And then also targeted point solutions. So focused on diabetes or high blood pressure or muscle skeletal. So they're really looking at claims data to say, "One, where are we spending money?" And then two, "What could we actually do to improve that spend?"

That sounds Machiavellian. I understand that. But there's somebody in there who worked with Excel and [inaudible] dollar signs and spreadsheets that they have to balance for the financial health of their company. We do always run across people in HR teams that are like, "We want to do the right thing for our employees."

Polly Yakovich: Of course.

Jenn Roberts: We know if we improve the health of our employees, that we'll have better productivity at work, we'll have a nicer place to work where people want to stay and it leads to recruitment or retention, employer of choice. So you have both of those things going for you. So I really think a good way to do this, making sure you're looking at as much national data as you can get, and then identifying areas that have those groups.

So I'll give you an example. 45% of US adults have hypertension, I promise you they don't work at Abercrombie and Fitch.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Jenn Roberts: Okay. So for example then, maybe not [crosstalk].

Polly Yakovich: Does anybody over 25 work at Abercrombie and Fitch?

Jenn Roberts: I've not really seen it, but I'm not checking IDs. But to be fair, you have to look for groups that this makes sense for them. You want to be successful. You can't push these types of products on a group that it doesn't make sense for because it won't work. You'll have low engagement, you'll have poor outcomes, and that just dilutes your entire value proposition at that point. In the case of hypertension, we know this starts creeping up in 30s, forty-ish, so you look for a group that's got an average age around that. A group that ideally has mostly full-time employees versus part-time, And a group that has those elements, an older age and has good retention of their employees. They're probably going to have this problem. They will see cardiovascular disease in their top three costs. And then it's really easy.

And you can take that employer's data and do a feasibility study or cost savings analysis and show them, does this actually make sense for you? And would you recoup your cost or part of your costs or get a two or three to one return on investment based on what their data looks like. So basically I live in data all the time.

And from that, then you can make the most great marketing materials. And I know we talked about this a little bit earlier, but something that's also come out with COVID is really inequities and healthcare and social determinants of health, which are like big topics, but important topics.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, absolutely.

Jenn Roberts: And I'm not sure like how familiar the audience will be with this, but basically based on income, based on gender, based on ethnicity, you can have higher disease burden risk. There's a million reasons why. Can be access to healthcare, trust to healthcare, cost of healthcare, health literacy. There's a lot of different elements to it. But if you can take that information and use that to customize your product offering, or your marketing, your materials to drive engagement, it will make a huge impact on your overall outcomes. And so we've been doing some of that work recently at Hello Heart.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. That's incredible. As you were talking, I was thinking what a massive marketing and eventually sales challenge to reach out to so many employers. Does it make more sense for products like this to go through brokers or plans or you do just hit everyone at every level?

Jenn Roberts: I think in general, you're seeing these types of virtual solutions hit every level and you have to see really what resonates and dedicate your workforce appropriately to that. So I'm not on the sales team and I don't do sales, but I focus on essentially education and clinical information for the consultants, because for the most part, the HR teams really rely on the consultants to vet the solutions, or their carrier, or their pharmacy benefit manager. Like is this good? Does this make sense? Would this work for us? So my job is really just to do education about that and brand awareness so that when a client comes to their consultant and says, "Man, these healthcare costs related to heart disease are out of control. What can we do about this?" Then they're like, "I know something." And then start the process from there.

But you're right about boiling the ocean. So I think it helps to, on the sales side, really focus on identifying some key market, dig in, get some good flags put up and then go from there. If it's a scattershot strategy to anyone and everyone, it takes up too much bandwidth and I think it's just too difficult, my opinion, to tackle it that way.

Polly Yakovich: Talk to me just a little bit about some of the marketing challenges that you're seeing with healthcare innovation and bringing products like yours to market.

Jenn Roberts: So one thing that's really interesting, I would say in the past two years or so, is there's a lot of consolidation in the space and consolidation by we're absorbing similar, but not the same companies. So then you're getting some groups like let's say a telemed vendor that now they're doing telemed, and they're doing muscle skeletal, and they're doing diabetes, and they're doing high blood pressure. And then their core value proposition gets completely diluted.

So that could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing when you think of competition.

Polly Yakovich: Absolutely.

Jenn Roberts: Monopolies and different things like that. So I think that's a challenge right now and like how are you different? So the most important thing, and this is one of the first things I did when I came to Hello Heart was what are the differentiators from a consultant's perspective and an employer, which would be the client's perspective? From their framework, what is it a benefit to you? Why is it a benefit to you? Because their perspectives are different. And just get that out of the way right away. Here's what's different. Now, let me tell you about it a little bit more. Because there's a lot of competition in this space right now.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, absolutely.

Jenn Roberts: And-

Polly Yakovich: And it becomes very hard when you're, say an HR VP of a large organization and you have 20 different vendors to solve all your problems.

Jenn Roberts: Exactly. And that's what I was talking about, the health ecosystem. So a lot of time a particular vendor, they're fighting for dollars that are available and they're fighting for notice and recognition when they should be fighting for getting better engagement and outcomes and figuring out how to work better together with everybody, because that's ultimately what helps the individual the most, helps your buying committee the most, helps the employer the most and overall what helps improve healthcare outcomes in America. So there's that. There's a little bit of that competition type of a thing. I think, besides the differentiators and the consolidation in this space, another thing to think about that's different is like now that we're moving into essentially a new way of doing healthcare post pandemic, it's not today, but hang in there, hopefully. We've got to think about all of the different methodologies that you can use for different groups.

Maybe it's you've got the standalone kiosks in certain areas. Maybe it's access to cell service, low cost, different things like that. And you've seen a lot of the big cable companies, internet companies, I should say, offering free wifi at libraries and different things like that. So there are some things to shore up the digital capabilities of some of these groups, because if you're in a rural area or you don't have unlimited data for example, then that can actually be a barrier and only making things worse.

So if the company can do a Bluetooth enabled, like what we're doing in Hello Heart, that does not cost the individual any extra money and they can be in the middle of nowhere doing it, or they could be in some place with spotty service, but it has no additional cost for them, I think that's the number one thing to do is make it as easy as you can for the individual consumer and lowest cost as possible. If possible, no out-of-pocket costs for the individual consumer. And then you help get through those barriers and the social determinants of health, of income, and education level and different things like that.

Polly Yakovich: Talk to me just a little bit about marketing strategies for consumer adoption. So like with your partnership with CVS, how do you go to market? How do you make sure that people have access to and can download and are using the app?

Jenn Roberts: So it's not too dissimilar from work in the consultant relations aspect, because these are account executives. And they're advising their clients. So it's kind of the same methodology is that your company has already designated Hello Heart as a preferred point solution. Okay. So this is known. But you have 14 or 15 of them out there all for different areas. So how do you make that stand out? And I think a lot of it is really just the education and the brand awareness.

One thing we like to do a lot is send people the app and the unit so they can try it themselves. It's one thing for me to sit here and tell you how great it is and how personalized it is, but you can just go buy a blood pressure cuff at CVS right now and write it down on a piece of paper, your results, but that's not really going to make that much of an impact.

So let's you try this and you try the coaching and you see how it customizes for you. One of the great features we put on this year was geography. So if you are working on exercise and a coaching module and I'm in Houston and it's 105 degrees, my recommendation is not going to be go outside for a 10 minute run. So it takes that into account, which is really nice.

Another interesting element when we're looking at some of these health inequities in our own data at how hard it is that men and women experience cardiac symptoms very differently. And often, women are dismissed from the emergency room as anxiety and not as a heart attack. So there's these perceptions that make women at higher risk related to cardiovascular outcomes. So within our app, we customize it. So if you've selected male or you selected female, your symptom checkers are going to come up differently.

And the traditional ones we hear about that used to get on magnets and stuff from American Heart Association were basically the men symptoms. And now that's changed. So you can see it's just been this whole ... There's so many elements to it, but really customizing it for the individual person and taking the very best of the knowledge and the data mining that you have to make it their own unique experience that they feel comfortable with.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Are you seeing incentives play a big part in adoption as well? Having employers incentivize their people to use the app,

Jenn Roberts: Interestingly, no.

Polly Yakovich: Interesting.

Jenn Roberts: You would think.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Jenn Roberts: That that is the traditional route.

Polly Yakovich: It is.

Jenn Roberts: An employer puts in a new thing and if you sign up, or you register, or you try it out, here's a gift card or here's a premium reduction or something like that. I think part of it is that getting the app and the unit, be it the blood pressure commenter, the one [inaudible], whatever it is, as part of the package, that actually has an incentive. And it's no cost to them. So there is that. They're getting this thing and they're like, "Oh, okay, this is interesting." But I'm telling you, it's that hooked model with the AI and the customization that is really driving people on their own to keep coming back.

And another interesting thing when we're looking at gender inequities in healthcare within our data is that women are much, much more likely to participate in health and wellness programs compared to men. I think that's an inherent, we get that. We actually have better utilization by men.

Polly Yakovich: Interesting.

Jenn Roberts: And I think part of it is you could make it ... Go, Polly.

Polly Yakovich: I was just going to say I think heart disease, even despite the statistics is often viewed as more of a male issue.

Jenn Roberts: I think that's a good point. And what I was going to say is that it's okay for a man to say he's taking care of his heart. It's a lot different for a man or woman to say, "I need to lose weight because my blood pressure's high, or I need to change the way I eat because I have diabetes and I don't want to have to go on insulin." So those are more a negative connotation.

Well, instead, if you focus on heart health and something that men are more comfortable with traditionally latching onto, I think that's part of it. I think the other part is that if you just want to track your blood pressure and not share the data with your doctor and only do one ... Log your exercise or one element of the coaching, that's fine. You can just do what you want to do when you want to do it. It's that whole meeting people where they're at with health behavior change theory.

But as they get more engaged then they're like, "Well, maybe I will share this report with my doctor. Well, maybe I will try this thing out here on the coaching. Well, maybe I will track how this is going or I'll sync it with my Google Fit or my Apple Health devices. And so you see the engagement gets deeper over time. So it's not just the amount of time they engage with the app or they take their blood pressure, but more of that deep dive into it and really exploring all the different options on there.

Polly Yakovich: That's great. What are you learning? Where do you see the market going? What's next?

Jenn Roberts: You know, if you're talking about cardiovascular disease, it's funny because nothing's actually changed. You need exercise, you need to eat better, moderate alcohol, quit smoking, lower stress. That's it. And that's going to improve your cholesterol, that's going to improve your hypertension, it's going to improve your diabetes and all of the other chronic conditions related to cardiovascular disease. And it improves mental health.

So I would say the way to change and the way to improve in terms of people who are thinking of new products or new solutions is that the actual way to do it is still the same, but it's really down to that marketing and engagement and how you get people engaged, and you have to move with the times. And there are things out there that we know work and we know the methodology of social media absolutely works. So it's okay to take down that barrier between, well, we're a very strict traditional clinical program and say, "Well, we want to make it fun and engaging for people. We know people of all ages are doing this." So how can we replicate what we know is already working and push it together with how we know how to help people make improvements, if that makes sense.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. And it feels like we've taken a little bit of a quantum leap into virtual strategies, and so if you aren't incorporating that into your offerings, then you're going to be left behind, it seems.

Jenn Roberts: Absolutely. And I think what we're going to see as time goes on is that it's just it's more cost-effective yeah. It's more convenient for the individual and the provider [crosstalk].

Polly Yakovich: Well, it's better for health equity because everyone can access it despite some of the challenges you talked about and it's cheaper.

Jenn Roberts: Exactly. And if you think about it, for a lot of people, if you think of the average income in America, a $20 co-pay is a barrier for care.

Polly Yakovich: Absolutely.

Jenn Roberts: $10 for gas and missing two to three hours for work to go to a doctor's visit is a barrier for care. So if you can knock some of those down by embracing the virtual, that's going to be a huge impact. And there's a company and there's a couple of different companies that are working on this, so I'll tell you something really interesting that I've seen recently in healthcare innovation. So we talked about the virtual visits and how that's really helping with mental health, especially because of the lack of providers out there. So this really makes it easier for them to see more people.

So it's actually using VR, virtual reality, and this pilot I was looking at was focused on children. So they make the room like you can make it look like Toy Story. Not Toy Story, but something like Toy Story or [crosstalk]-

Polly Yakovich: Yeah [crosstalk]. Not branded.

Jenn Roberts: They love bunnies. Yeah, not branded. Something like your kid's favorite cartoon, or you can change the face of the avatar essentially of the therapist. You, as the individual, can change the avatar of what you look like. And it kind of puts that little screen up, but still allows that really great interaction. So I think we might see some more expansion really into the VR space. It seemed like it would have taken off more than it has, but I think that equipment is still really expensive. I mean, I have two of them at home, so I know they're very expensive right now, but I think when that technology goes down, we'll see a lot more of VR related to exercise, to coaching, to doing health education and different things like that.

Polly Yakovich: Not to mention that populations that have been raised with this technology as they enter seasons of their life, where they start to experience more health concerns, they're going to bring those experiences and those desires for the way that they interact with the world with them.

Jenn Roberts: That's an excellent point because if you're in kindergarten right now, you'll have done VR your whole life [crosstalk].

Polly Yakovich: Yeah.

Jenn Roberts: So it's not a leap for them, a technological leap.

Polly Yakovich: And not a lot of kindergartners are probably experiencing a lot of heart issues, but as they age, they're going to bring that with them.

Jenn Roberts: Hopefully not.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. It's like we used to say back in the day, even if you're very small, you need a website that competes with Amazon because the experience is so democratized across the web. People just expect the experience that's seamless and easy and wherever they are, even if you don't have a big budget. And that's like a ten-year-old anecdote, but it's becoming more true, I think, in healthcare and other spaces with technology.

Jenn Roberts: And I think to that Amazon experience, the essentially predictive modeling of what that person might be looking for based on what they did last time and that's absolutely something we're incorporating in Hello Heart. So you have to do that because now you're used to it as a consumer and you expect it and you don't want to have to hunt and find stuff. You want things to just pop up. And that's exactly what I was thinking of. Yes, I will engage.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Yeah. And then this is a whole rabbit trail we probably don't have time for, but coupling that with privacy concerns and all of the things that are becoming more locked down in social media or Amazon with cookies, et cetera, just making all of that really transparent to the user is something that's going to be more important as well.

Jenn Roberts: I think that's an excellent point when we're talking about digital health solutions or even virtual visits and different things like that. Like how secure actually is that? So you have to make sure your EPHI is completely protected. It has high trust certifications, different things like that, but also that the consent forms are in there. So you can get people to sign off. So you can't do a blanket consent. So for example, at Hello Heart, you have to do a consent form to send it to your provider. If you want it to go to your cardiologist, then you need to do it another consent form so that you can send it down there. Do you want your labs to come down from lab form request, then you need to sign off on that as well.

So each individual time that they get the notification and then they get the choice, do they want to do that or not?

Polly Yakovich: That's great.

Jenn Roberts: It gives them the trust, but it is trust because it's only what you want to share. And I think that also goes a little bit more to the men feeling more comfortable using it, that over time they'll share some of that data or pull some of that data out of their EMR and put it in there, once they feel more comfortable, when they're ready.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah. Jenn, I always learn so much when I chat with you. I can't thank you enough for your time. The last question I always ask my podcast guests is something I learned from a friend and research, and I personally just love it. But what is your super power? What would you say is something that you uniquely bring to your work and your life?

Jenn Roberts: Say that I'm an amazing puzzle solver and not real puzzles. I'm pretty terrible at those. But I am not very patient. But taking these pieces of data that are just floating out there, and then you just can see a pattern and then you can bring it together and then you can make something compelling that other people can understand.

Polly Yakovich: That's great.

Jenn Roberts: Virtual puzzle, intellectual puzzle, something like that. Don't give me a Rubik's cube.

Polly Yakovich: Yeah, that's serves you amazingly in this space because there is so much data and being able to look through it and pull out connections is certainly a gift.

Jenn Roberts: Thank you. It was great meeting with you again.

Polly Yakovich: Thank you. How can people connect with you? Are you active on LinkedIn? Can they follow you?

Jenn Roberts: I'm on LinkedIn and I'm sure I'll be promoting this. So maybe people can check that out. And I occasionally do some blogging on there as well. So Jenn Roberts, I'm based in Houston. So if you're looking for me there and then I would say check out

Polly Yakovich: We'll link to your LinkedIn and all of the rest in the show notes as well so people can connect with you. Thank you so much for your time.

Jenn Roberts: Wonderful. It was great being here.

Outro: Thanks for listening to this episode of A Brave New Podcast. Go to for more resources and advice. If you enjoyed this episode, show us some love by subscribing, rating and reviewing a brave new podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Polly Yakovich

Polly Yakovich



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