Health Tech: Justin French On How AngelEye Health’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our…

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Health Tech: Justin French On How AngelEye Health’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness

Be ok with setbacks. They will happen — your technology may need to be reworked, your audience tweaked, or your team altered, but don’t allow the setbacks to take you completely off course. Remember, failure is not an option. Use the setbacks to adapt and better your technology for future success.

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 Justin French.

Justin French is the Founder and Chief Technical Officer at AngelEye Health, a leading provider of tele-engagement solutions for the NICU and PICU environments. Justin founded AngelEye health in 2013 to deliver engagement solutions designed to bridge the gap between families and hospital care teams to ease workflows and offer a more positive hospital stay while elevating neonatal and pediatric patient outcomes. In his role as Chief Technology Officer, French is responsible for AngelEye’s technical team, including software development, hardware development, production, and technical customer support. Previously, French spent five years at the University of Arkansas for Medical Science as an applications systems analyst. French received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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 grew up in Benton, Arkansas, a rural town southwest of Little Rock. My mother was an early childhood educator, and my dad was a truck driver, so I spent a lot of time on my own while they worked. Looking back, I’d say I was a “free range” child. I did a lot of swimming, bike riding, and exploring. When I was about 12, I started mowing lawns to earn money. By 14, I was working on a construction crew installing windows and siding onto local homes. This was the first time I could look back and admire the fruits of my labor, which ignited the need to work within me. During my senior year in high school, I worked at a body shop as an apprentice; and in the summer between high school and starting college, I built log cabins in the national forest. By the time I got to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, I was a jack of all trades!

During my college years, I kept working when my class schedule allowed. I had a job at the local bowling alley where a group of regulars would come in every week, and we became friendly. One day, one of the gentlemen approached me while I was working on some homework and struck up a conversation about what I was studying (computer science). He presented me with an internship opportunity at the University of Arkansas Medical Center that ultimately kicked off my career.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

There have been a number of interesting days in my career. As the founder of a healthcare startup, I can think of several times that seem more like a dream than a reality, but one, in particular, stands out.

We started AngelEye Health to help connect families to their hospitalized children, namely babies in the NICU environment. I come from a technical background, so was well versed in writing the code and making the technology work, but nothing could have prepared me for our very first installation. We were at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, and I was laser-focused on getting in, installing our CameraSystem, and getting out of the care team’s hair. It was my first time in a working NICU, and I was taken back by the incredibly small babies in each bed. I was working on one bed in particular with a baby that was no bigger than a water bottle. Its skin was see-through, and its chest was open, covered with plastic between procedures. That moment was incredibly impactful. I realized that the baby’s family couldn’t be in the room at the time and that the technology I was installing would allow them to see their baby in real-time from their phone or computer. I was providing relief to a real family — not a case study or a scenario we had worked through in our offices. It continues to shape my experience at AngelEye Health.

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?

A few names come to mind. First, Bruce Hester, who gave me my first internship during our meeting at the bowling alley. He helped shape my early career and gave me the tools I needed to explore technology.

Shaun Block, a developer and mentor from my time at UAMS, taught me how to code.

Steve Bethel, the former CEO of AngelEye Health, pushed me beyond what was possible. He forced me to shed my siloed way of thinking as a developer and helped me learn how to network. He took me from a coder to a businessman, and for that, I am forever grateful.

And to Christopher Rand, the current CEO of AngelEye Health. He has been an incredible partner in building AngelEye for the future.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Failure is not an option.”

That doesn’t mean that you won’t fail on the way to success, but you cannot be willing to resign to any temporary setbacks. Use them as fuel to propel yourself forward, learning from your mistakes and relying on your instincts to make better future decisions.

This is paramount to who I am as a person and as the founder of a health tech company. We could have failed a million times, but our team works together each day to get through temporary setbacks by keeping our eyes on the future.

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?

A thirst for learning –You should try to learn something new every day. There’s always something to learn from, whether in your job or life in general. Be a continuous learner, and your worldview will expand, ultimately benefitting your business.

Adaptability — Staying stagnant in your thinking is one of the biggest hindrances to growth. You have to be able to adapt to the newest way of thinking, the latest technology, or way of doing things. If you don’t, you will quickly get left behind.

Mutual respect — No one has the same experiences as you. People come from a variety of backgrounds and have different ways of understanding and interpreting situations. If we all respect each other from the start, we can learn together and ultimately create a better future.

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?

Nearly 10% of children in the US are born premature, resulting in tens of thousands of babies staying in the NICU until they can safely go home. In many instances, families are separated during these hospital stays due to financial constraints, additional children at home, or the need to return to work. We founded AngelEye Health in 2013 to support family engagement and integrate parents into their child’s care team, even when they can’t be directly at their bedside.

How do you think your technology can address this?

At AngelEye, we have built a diverse portfolio of resources for supporting the highly specialized needs of the NICU and PICU today and in the future. Today, AngelEye includes four complementary solutions accessible on our comprehensive HIPAA-compliant platform that offer advanced communication and engagement resources for NICU clinical teams and the families they support.

CameraSystem™ brings live-streaming video of the patient to family members anywhere, anytime, on any device.

OnlineEducation™ is a customizable parent portal where hospitals can upload hospital-specific and patient care education and monitor parents’ progress on the patient’s path to discharge.

PatientConnect™ is a one-way communication tool that allows care teams to easily engage with families via text, photo, or video messages.

Milk Tracker™ is a comprehensive end-to-end feeding and milk inventory management solution.

Providing these resources to the entire care team, parents included, is driving better unit outcomes and creating a path to safe discharge for the most vulnerable patients in the hospital.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Prior to starting AngelEye, I was working in a traditional developer setting. I was on track to becoming a manager and then working until retirement. While there is nothing wrong with that career path, I didn’t feel like it was the right path for me. I felt called to try something different and to take a chance on myself to prove that I could do great things from my humble beginnings. Using my “failure is not an option” mentality, I worked to create technology for what I saw as a gaping hole in the healthcare system. While the NICU is full of technology, it is mainly focused on life-saving medical measures for tiny patients. I saw the great need to integrate families more regularly into their child’s care team and began brainstorming ways my background could make a positive difference.

Once we had our first CameraSystem set up, I could see its impact on the families and the care team in the NICU, and that has kept my passion alive throughout the years. From there, we have built a robust technology suite to engage families in their NICU journey from multiple touchpoints, including education, feeding, and communication with their baby’s team.

How do you think this might change the world?

Ultimately, I think the technologies provided by AngelEye Health can revolutionize the NICU experience. Educated parents who have 24/7 access to see their hospitalized babies are generally less stressed and can play a helpful, active role in their child’s path to discharge. They have informed team members on their child’s care team rather than shell-shocked observers of a clinician’s decisions. Additionally, AngelEye allows hospitals to utilize a single platform to access multiple functions. This decreases the amount of time that teams spend toggling between applications or features and keeps the focus on care. In the future, I expect our team to continue to grow, innovate, and push one another to succeed. There are many areas to explore in the future, and I know that we have the best team in place to make real, measurable changes in NICUs throughout the world.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

When pediatric patients’ families are better educated using our technology, they tend to ask more questions of the care team. All parties agree that questions are important and ultimately lead to a safer discharge. Still, they can lend themselves to more 1:1 conversations between family and nursing staff, which can take time away from the patient directly. A nurse’s primary job is to take care of their patient. There may be a perception that having these conversations can take away from the direct nursing care that is the primary focus; however, what we’re working to do is to equip families to ask the right questions. Instead of asking about the same details (e.g., feeding schedules), families can utilize our OnlineEducation platform and save questions that remain unanswered for the nursing staff. Ultimately, this reduces time away from patients by allowing nurses to answer specific patient questions rather than general information that can be learned through our platform. Finally, mutual respect between the care team and families can alleviate tension and make this potential drawback nearly nonexistent.

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.)

Know your audience. Determine your target market and make inroads to build meaningful relationships. Networking has been one of the most important aspects of AngelEye Health from the start. At first, I shied away from being front and center, but with the help of Steve Bethel, former AngelEye CEO, I became more comfortable marketing the company and homing in on who we really needed to be speaking with to make an impact.

Know the problem. Your technology may be well suited to solve a number of issues but determining the main problem that you can address will help your technology stand out in a crowded market. Video technology for a hospital setting is not novel on its own, but by realizing the impact that it can have in the NICU and how it can aid in the care and bonding of hospitalized children, AngelEye has identified a key problem that our technology can address.

Have passion. If you are not passionate about what you are working on, there will come a day when you will put it aside and never pick it up again. Passion has been a driving factor for AngelEye since our inception. We have made sure that each team member who joins our team has their own passion associated with what we are working to accomplish. This collective drive is what keeps our wheels turning.

Continue to learn. Change is happening at a nearly constant rate, especially in technology. Stay up to date on the latest findings in your field and brainstorm how they could impact the work that you are doing.

Be ok with setbacks. They will happen — your technology may need to be reworked, your audience tweaked, or your team altered, but don’t allow the setbacks to take you completely off course. Remember, failure is not an option. Use the setbacks to adapt and better your technology for future success.

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’s more important than ever to make a positive impact on society. Mutual respect is so important, and understanding that others may not agree with you while still respecting their opinion can help forge new paths and ways of thinking. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to society to capitalize on the impact that we can make for our future and the future of generations to come.

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. 🙂

I would like to have lunch with Gary Vaynerchuk. His brutally honest approach matches some of my own approaches to life. A lunch with Gary would be incredibly eye-opening and would push me to work hard every day. A recent quote from Gary from a podcast: “If you’re able to see the world through the eyes of “attacking hate with love,” from the perspective that “tenacity and work ethic are part of the formula, thus find something you like… otherwise, you won’t be able to work that hard,”… If you’re able to figure these things out and deploy that mental framework, you’ll win.”

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can visit and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.

Health Tech: Justin French On How AngelEye Health’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.