Health Tech: Jia Jia Ye On How Springtide Child Development’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
In healthcare, the most important thing is the technology MUST integrate seamlessly with workflows. Unlike other tools where the value add is often enough to create new habits and workflows, in healthcare all the clinicians and their staff have really specific workflows and combinations of tools that are very hard to disrupt. You need to deeply understand all the workflows to build the right technology.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jia Jia Ye.
Jia Jia is an executive experienced at scaling high-growth healthcare tech companies, with a passion for designing delightful consumer experiences in healthcare. Jia Jia is the Founder and CEO of Springtide Child Development, an integrative, evidence-based autism treatment center that leverages technology to provide high quality, interdisciplinary, effective care for each family’s unique journey. Prior to Springtide, she helped scale leading tech-enabled healthcare companies including One Medical Group (NASDAQ:ONEM) and Oscar Health Insurance (NYSE:OSCR).
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I was born in China and moved to the US as a young kid. We lived in towns where you wouldn’t expect to see someone like me — and certainly not back then — first in Rapid City, South Dakota and then Salt Lake City, Utah. I didn’t really fit in — whether due to race, religion, or culture. But over time, I realized that one of my strengths was that I could really relate to people across different groups, and that I was also able to rally people from different groups to come together. I still draw from some of those childhood leadership lessons today when I lead teams.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
One really memorable moment in my career was one of my first jobs out of college in investment banking. We would work really long hours, consistently until 1 or 2 am. Every Wednesday, the guys on the team would go play basketball for a few hours. I was the only girl and I didn’t play basketball, so I’d stay in the office and continue working during that time. One night, my boss came by and asked why I was working if everyone else was playing basketball. I told him that I didn’t want to play, and it wasn’t a big deal. He told me that if I didn’t want to play basketball, I needed to pick something else that I wanted to do and have the whole team do that. I learned two really important lessons from that night: the first lesson was that being different is OK, and it’s a good thing to incorporate different opinions to shake up the status quo a bit. I had just assumed because it was all guys, that this was normal for me to not join. The second lesson was that I, as a member of this team, had an obligation to speak up. Even though I wasn’t bothered by the situation, it was still my obligation to speak up and say this activity didn’t suit the whole team. That really changed how I viewed myself and how to bring value -– that beyond being a good worker, it was really important to be a good, active team member. One of our company values is “Be All In,” which is a lesson I learned from this moment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You can create your own luck. There is so much randomness and uncontrollability in life, and what I focus on is making sure that we do what we can to change the odds a little bit at a time. When luck/opportunity arises, we need to have the right open mindedness to see it, and the right resources to take advantage of it. I like approaching life and work this way, and I think it helps me stay calm, prepared, and not take everything too seriously. Our mission is so great and everyone at Springtide has strong internal motivation and drive to see our mission succeed. It’s important for me to make sure that our day-to-day has the right amount of flexibility and possibilities. One of our company values is “Assume It’s Possible,” which I think really captures this sentiment.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I think many people with really different character traits can be successful leaders. I think the key is being able to pair your own leadership style with the right environment to be successful. For me, I love working in big vision, high growth types of environments, and my personal leadership style matches well with that. Given what I love, the traits that I think have really helped me include:
- Delegating ownership. It’s not just delegating work, but really delegating ownership and decision-making authority to others in the team — especially folks that are close to the customer. This is super important in a high growth environment because things are changing so fast, and we’re all learning so much about our customers and operations that it’s really important to make sure the decision-making authority sits with the right level of the organization. I won’t be able to make the best decision because I won’t have all of the information, and oftentimes there is someone else in the organization who can make a better decision on behalf of the company.
- Flexibility. Start-ups are major roller coaster rides, and you have to be ready to go for the ride. You can’t control everything and you also can’t get too reactive when things go up and down. A quote I love is when Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan, until they’re punched in the mouth.” It’s so apt for a start-up — we plan what we can, but then have to react super fast when things change.
- Simplicity. I tend to think simply, and I think it helps me stay focused on what’s important. It also helps me communicate with others because I can filter out a lot of the complexity and noise.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
We are developing highly individualized therapy for kids with autism, which has better outcomes and families love it. Autism is incredibly complicated. When most people think of autism, they think of the behavioral issues. But in addition to this, kids with autism have many medical complications, mental health issues, environmental and genetic factors as well. We are building a practice supported by technology that lets us evaluate a child wholly across many factors, map out individualized treatment paths for each child and family’s unique journey, and more effectively achieve progress with the child and family.
How do you think your technology can address this?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is, as its name suggests, a spectrum. Each kid presents differently and individually on that spectrum, and it’s often made more complicated by a variety of factors including the kid’s medical conditions, environmental factors and genetics. Technology helps make sure that we are capturing the maximum information available to us, and structuring it in a way to help our therapists make the best decisions. Technology also ensures that all our therapists are practicing in a similar, best practice way, so that they can then focus their time and energy on the personal differences that only a human being is able to detect and work through.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
Growing up in Utah, we had a family friend who had a child with autism. At that time, there were zero therapists in our entire state and I remember our family friends flying their therapist from the east coast to Salt Lake City once a month. Even as a kid, I remember how important, challenging and powerful that was. Fast forward 30+ years, so much has changed in the industry for the better. Early diagnosis has increased, the stigma has decreased, availability of therapists and insurance coverage has increased significantly — and yet the family experience is still as stressful and confusing as ever. I saw an opportunity to build a practice that was focused on the child and their family’s entire experience. An opportunity to become THE partner families turn to for integrative and evidence-based autism care, tailored to each family’s unique journey.
By developing an individualized approach to each child that takes into account their entire situation, we are able to provide tailored therapy plans that yield better results — and we see this in both the pivotal skills gains of our children, as well as our industry leading 90%+ NPS scores.
How do you think this might change the world?
Autism affects 1 out of every 44 kids — more than triple what it was in 2000. With this rate of growth in provenance, access to care (and especially high quality care) has become incredibly challenging for families. Springtide’s approach allows for us to provide higher quality care with measurable outcomes to families. And because we’re so focused on outcomes, it allows us to achieve goals faster which means our therapists get to serve more kids over time. This is how we will solve the access problem.
It’s important to be able to combine human judgment and intuition with the right technology to support the best decision making possible. Where things go wrong is when you allow technology to make the decision; that misses all the nuance of human-to-human interaction that is so crucial when working with kids with autism. You can’t just plug and play the technology. That’s why it’s important for us to make sure we have sufficient training on how to use our tooling, to integrate our technology effectively into our operational procedures, and — most importantly — build a culture in our organization that puts the child and their family first in all our decision-making.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
- In healthcare, the most important thing is the technology MUST integrate seamlessly with workflows. Unlike other tools where the value add is often enough to create new habits and workflows, in healthcare all the clinicians and their staff have really specific workflows and combinations of tools that are very hard to disrupt. You need to deeply understand all the workflows to build the right technology.
- Related to the first point, technology-enabled service providers like Sprintide allow us to develop both the operating procedures and technology hand in hand, which allows for much stronger operations and technology. Owning both the technology and the service can provide a very strong outcome. At Springtide, as we’ve been developing our own model of care, we’ve been able to develop tools that help guide all our staff to operate using this same model of care consistently throughout the organization. That way, all families can receive the same standard of care and each therapist can focus their time on adjusting the key pieces that need to be individualized.
- Simplify the process for the consumer. The thread of all the successful healthcare companies I’ve worked at like One Medical, Oscar Health, and Springtide is that we use technology to create simplicity and transparency for the customer. The design of that is really important because we want the consumer to be engaged with their healthcare without being overwhelmed with indigestible information.
- Build technology that maximizes human-to-human engagement. Technology can not replace the deep connection and trust people have with their healthcare providers. Build technology that removes the noise and allows for maximum focus and connectivity to be formed between the patient and the healthcare provider. At Springtide, we use technology to reduce unnecessary burdens so that the therapists can maximize their time with the families to listen to them, share updates on their child’s progress, and ask questions.
- Build technology that focuses on the quality of care, and the efficiency will follow. In our industry, there is a large shortage of providers that work with kids with autism. Many tech companies have focused on making those providers more efficient. I think that’s great and can add a lot of value up to a point. Our approach is different. We believe that by helping our providers deliver a higher quality and more effective therapy, we are able to achieve results faster with our kids and free up our therapists to work with more children. We’ve focused on building tools that allow for the most 360-degree approach in working with our kids and families, tracking progress over time, and standardizing the ongoing review and titration process.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
It brings meaning and purpose to work, which is such a huge part of most of our lives. On a daily basis, it provides a north star for me and the team — which is really important in times of stress or difficult decisions. On an emotional level, it’s incredibly rewarding. When I talk to our families and team members about what we’re doing — helping kids communicate with others, bring closeness to a family, prepare a kid to be able to join his peers in school — there is no greater reward than to know we’re doing something good every day.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Dolly Parton! She exhibits one really important value at Springtide which is to “Bring Joy!” She is someone who is so deeply authentic without being too serious, and she brings joy to people from all different walks of life!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.
Health Tech: Jia Jia Ye On How Springtide Child Development’s Technology Can Make An Important… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.