Health Tech: Ben Mandelbaum On How NavigAid’s Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
Think BIG. Build out as many resources as possible within the technology. Most comprehensive of user base but also a help center/resource center for a broader audience base looking for answers and directions.
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 Ben Mandelbaum.
Ben Mandelbaum is a strategic thinker who applies more than a decade of healthcare management knowledge to streamline automation and accessibility to Medicaid benefits. Recognizing the need to make Medicaid accessible to all who qualify, Ben launched NavigAid in 2021. NavigAid is an affordable, secure, easy-to-use online tool that assists caregivers with an organized way to gather necessary documents required for the Medicaid application process in order to pay the exorbitant costs of eldercare today.
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 a large family in Philadelphia, I am the 14th out of 15 siblings. My parents are my role models and not just for raising 15 kids but for raising admirable people. I saw my parents as great people and they always gave a hand to those that were in need. Our home was the “go-to” place, it was a safe space oftentimes for family and friends who needed support on any level. I believe this is how the seed was planted in regards to caring for others. At the age of ten my great-grandmother, who was 99 years old at the time, moved in with us to be cared for by my parents until she passed away at the age of 102. Approximately ten years later my grandparents moved in with us for my parents to care for them through their elder years until their end of life. These moments opened my eyes and showed me that in order to meet the physical needs to care for my grandparents, there were several other tasks and responsibilities that had to be tackled beyond physical care.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
You’re working with a vulnerable community each day and being able to help is important to me. In this instance, I had an applicant who handed me tens of thousands of dollars more than the fee and I told them to not do that again because someone could take advantage.
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?
I am grateful for my father; he leads with honesty, integrity, care, and compassion. He has put others first, never judging and always considering others’ perspectives. He exemplifies a hardworking, responsible and selfless character. My father was the busiest man I have ever known and he still managed to have a calm, comforting, and collective aura.
In fact, as I previously mentioned, through my childhood and into my adult years, many families stayed with my parents in order for a loved one to undergo medical treatments/surgeries at a nearby hospital. We had families from several different countries staying with us through the years. One of the families staying with us had a loved one who endured rare, high-risk, complicated and emotional surgery. The surgery and the circumstances, both emotional and physical were particularly concerning for the surgeon, as well. Knowing my father’s spirit, the well-renowned surgeon, now retired Surgeon General, called my father the night before requesting his presence in the operating room for moral support. My father’s character and demeanor were called upon by this surgeon to provide him with peace of mind and comfort during this difficult surgery. To me, this act was a profound statement and made me very proud to be my father’s son.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
These aren’t quotes necessarily but more so things I stand by:
Stay calm, cool, and collective in all aspects of life…
Treat others as you would like to be treated…
Don’t stress there is always a solution…
Growing up in a large family, always hosting others, and caring for the elderly, I learned to give of myself and my space to accommodate others, it creates a chain reaction of care and compassion. Regardless of that, being good to people is important.
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?
Honesty/Integrity — If you don’t have integrity you are not honest. It is integral both personally as well in business, especially when you are dealing with the most vulnerable population, our seniors, and their families. They need to know we are here to help them and have their best interest in mind. I remember years ago being at a client’s house so they may retain our services. We reviewed and completed the documents the only thing to do was get paid. The elderly client hands me an envelope of money stating, “there should be enough here”. Well, the envelope had tens of thousands of dollars more than what was needed. I took our payment amount, handed the envelope back to the client, and begged her not to hand that envelope to anyone else that she may meet with for any other services. Unfortunately, not everyone has integrity.
Care/Compassion — relevant to me both personally and professionally. As to our client base, we care for their unique circumstances outside the services we are hired to provide. For the elders and their family members that we are assisting there are a myriad of peripheral tasks on them at this stage of their lives. I enjoy and am happy to connect them to the appropriate helpful resources. Similar to your employees, it is important you care for them individually and personally, as they are part of the “family” and not just “staff”.
Creativity — Is necessary! Starting a new business, whether is direct service or SAAS, you will always experience fears, doubts, concerns, second thoughts, etc. If you want to succeed, you must step outside your comfort zone, allow your creativity to expand, go with it, take your chances and think outside the box!
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?
I am aiming to solve the overwhelm and confusion of obtaining long-term care benefits for seniors through the Medicaid programs by replacing them with ease and convenience. In order for our seniors to age appropriately and receive the proper care to keep them healthy, active, and in the proper social environment they need long-term care coverage. Most people do not plan for this stage of life, Medicaid is the resource for seniors to obtain long-term care coverage so they may live the rest of their days being properly cared for and thriving because they have obtained the necessary coverage to meet their care needs.
How do you think your technology can address this?
Applying for Medicaid is a very confusing, time-consuming, and daunting task. Many who take on this responsibility are the adult children of the senior, who have their own busy, stressful lives that occupy their time and resources. Added to their list of responsibilities is now the complicated task of ensuring their parents’ needs are met, as well as making sure the necessary coverage is in place to assist in the cost of care needed. Obtaining these long-term care benefits is a daunting task that they simply do not have the time, knowledge, or experience to navigate through. NavigAid, simplifies the process through a format of easy questions and answers, along with built-in how-to tips and, informational guides, making the application process more practical and simple to complete and submit.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause? How do you think this might change the world?
Referencing back to my childhood, growing up with my great grandmother and grandparents living with us so my parents could care for them, I witnessed and experienced firsthand all that is involved to care for our seniors as they age. I believe this implanted a passion in me to be sure our elders are cared for properly and with dignity.
As referenced earlier, this online tool will allow many more seniors the accessibility to get them through the process, which in turn will ensure better health and quality of life for many seniors throughout the country.
There are pros and cons in every aspect of life. Outside of a terrible cyber-attack, etc., I see this only doing good. Hoping to enhance the lives of thousands upon thousands of our aging seniors by providing them with a simple vehicle to navigate the complicated process of obtaining their rightful Medicaid benefits in order to age appropriately in the place that meets their needs.
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.)
- Define the solution the technology will provide.
- Understand your audience. Ensuring the solution is one that is easy for them to benefit from (keeping in mind their needs and potential limitations).
- You don’t know everything. Collaborate with the professionals you respect and trust.
- Think BIG. Build out as many resources as possible within the technology. Most comprehensive of user base but also a help center/resource center for a broader audience base looking for answers and directions.
- Be open to change. Listen to your users, respect their feedback and always be open to change, which brings enhancements.
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?
At the end of the day, nothing is more satisfying than knowing you are helping to enhance the lives of others, knowing you made a positive difference to others is something you will never regret. Especially if you are helping our seniors, those that are vulnerable and at times disadvantaged.
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 say Warren Buffet. He is someone who has built many businesses, kept his equilibrium extremely static, showcases discipline, is charitable, and is overall fascinating.
I would also choose Elon Musk mainly because he is the super opposite. He is successful although extremely impulsive. I think that’s why many people want to talk to him; to figure out what actually goes through his mind. It’s very interesting.
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: Ben Mandelbaum On How NavigAid’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.