It's incredible what can be done when you pair a great doctor with great technology. 

This article highlights an excerpt from an audio interview conducted by Twill's SVP of Healthcare Strategies, Brendon Kelly with Dr. Andy Sekel, Ph.D., the Managing Partner at Marketplace Funds and former Chief Executive Officer for Optum Specialty Networks.

In this excerpt from our interview, Dr. Sekel shares a personal story about how his team in New Mexico had to scramble to provide behavioral health support to children when there were no licensed practitioners in the state.  

A heart-warming story about what one great doctor can do when empowered by technology.  

The complete interview with Dr. Sekel is available online, here.

Interview Excerpt Transcript

Dr. Andy Sekel, Ph.D.: We’re, you know, we're all operating as if we're rural. So, you know, when I was doing work at Optum in New Mexico, there was not a single child and adolescent psychiatrist.

And there was a pretty significant need for a whole bunch of different issues. And, you know, one of the barriers still is you have to be licensed in the state that your patient is in. So just through a bunch of coincidences, we find a female board- certified child and adolescent psychiatrist moved to Hong Kong because her husband got transferred.

And she was actually interested in living in Hong Kong and because she was licensed in New Mexico, she was the most active psychiatrists for children in the Northwest part of New Mexico from Hong Kong. That's, that's the, that's the innovation that's available today. We did that eight years ago and I can't tell you how many children really got incredible care.

And their lives changed because of this woman who was willing to practice from Hong Kong and actually wanted to practice, but couldn't figure out how to do that living there. So, you know, it opens up a whole bunch of opportunities that were just on the front end of seeing.

What does software, what does text, what does video, do to improve the system, to reduce stigma, to improve access?

And to, at the end, bring higher quality outcomes to the patients that we're trying to treat.

Brendon Kelly: That's a great example too.  It makes me think that given her impact as one person, I'm sure she was able to help maybe hundreds of people, but if we could digitize that experience and scale, it across the world; what could we actually achieve?

Dr. Andy Sekel, Ph.D.:Exactly. And the reality is, as long as there's capability for Wi-Fi, we can digitize. And you know, one of the interesting things that we've done at Happify is translated our capabilities into a number of languages. So, for multinational companies that have employees in a variety of different places; they can be on the platform in English, or they could be on the platform in French.

And so, you just start seeing; it's almost like the curtain is parting and you start seeing that the capabilities that we have in digital are going to open up a lot of opportunities for a lot of people and hopefully improve the quality of healthcare.

And, I'm really significantly concerned about people that are home bound because of a chronic illness, and we say, " you need to see a therapist and you know, you need to get a taxi or an Uber to go to their office."

That just doesn't work. Right? What does work is bring that service to their house, to their phone, to their computer, bring that service to them where they need it.

And, really help them recover to the extent that they can from the ailments that they have.


If you enjoyed this interview, we hope you'll join us on June 30 when Dr. Sekel hosts a webinar featuring Mike Thompson, President & CEO of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions; Steve Blumenfield, Head of Strategy and Innovation, Health & Benefits NA, for Willis Towers Watson; and Dr. Stuart Lustig, National Medical Executive for Cigna Behavioral Health.

Register Now

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