Inspired by something very personal, Joe Connolly founded Visana Health to offer greater access to women’s healthcare through a comprehensive virtual health platform. We sat down with Joe to chat about what sparked his passion for ensuring more women get the healthcare they need, telehealth, and what the future looks like in the field.
Often people start companies because of something deeply meaningful to them — and that’s very true in your case. Share a little bit of the Visana story with us.
I watched my mother suffer from endometriosis for 25 years. She was bedridden every month for three or four days at a time, experiencing pain so excruciating, she would vomit. Doctors dismissed her pain as “all in her head.” It took a quarter of a century and a chance visit with a new physician that she finally received the endometriosis diagnosis and treatment she should have gotten years earlier.
Witnessing my mother’s ordeal inspired me to use my professional skills and knowledge to change the way endometriosis is treated. During the course of researching this disease and talking to other women confronting the same systemic issues, I decided I would start Visana. I knew we could make a difference in the lives of the nearly 200 million women affected by endometriosis.
What’s lacking in women’s health today?
Women’s health needs are often not being taken seriously by our broken healthcare system. Doctors who don’t have enough background or research on reproductive health dismiss women’s concerns, delaying diagnoses and causing needless suffering. This is compounded by the fact that there are few spaces to speak freely about reproductive health. It’s still often regarded as a taboo subject and that’s contributed to the lack of research and the way symptoms are routinely dismissed.
So the problems are clear. But how does the Visana approach help?
Visana is dedicated to improving the lives of those suffering from underserved women’s health conditions — from endometriosis to adenomyosis and other menstrual pain conditions. We empower our patients with real, accurate, scientific content so they can make informed decisions.
We support women through every step of their personal health journey through health coaching, the ability to find vetted physicians, and sharing on-demand educational content through our virtual platform. Visana shortens the diagnosis delay — and greatly enhances the care women receive.
How have you seen patients respond to what Visana is offering?
We’ve opened the door to better mental health and access to care — and as a result, women are missing fewer days of work and enjoying an overall better healthcare experience. Our virtual platform is helping women overcome their pain from the comfort of their home; the telehealth option has been critical during the pandemic. As a result, we’re seeing very strong customer satisfaction scores.
The pandemic really upended so much of normal life — and hugely impacted patient care. How did Visana have to pivot in response to the pandemic’s challenges?
The pandemic made normal healthcare a real challenge: surgeries were cancelled, physical therapy sessions dela
yed, access to trusted clinicians was even harder, and stress got higher, exacerbating existing symptoms. We teed up more resources to teach patients how to manage pain at home, making those resources available on our blog and in our program.
We also reached out to trusted women’s health experts, developing a collection of science-based content that’s now readily available for millions of women that need it. Our team worked hard to make all our content accessible and user-friendly so that, despite the pandemic’s changes to daily life, members could access the content they needed, when and where they needed it.
Crystal-ball the next few years in women’s health. What’s your prediction for how technology will continue to improve women’s care, from access to outcomes?
Women’s health is much more than maternity and fertility. In fact, women make up more than 80 percent of healthcare purchasing decisions. You’ll see the lens of women’s health broadened, with more attention for pelvic floor disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome, menopause, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Technology will become a cornerstone of how women access healthcare out of necessity. There simply aren’t enough specialists for many of these conditions. Telehealth and other technologies will scale care resources, ensuring they’re accessible so patient outcomes can improve.
Thank you, Joe, for your candor and insights. Learn more about Visana Health here: https://www.visanahealth.com/
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