‘Why I Joined Tomorrow Health' by Courtney Azevedo, Respiratory Care Team Lead
Courtney shares what brought her to Tomorrow Health.
Change is scary, whether that’s change in location, change in job status, change in relationships, change in your usual coffee order, or change to daily routine. As humans, we are hard-wired to resist any sort of change. And when change does occur, our bodies immediately jump to our defense to protect us. But what happens when you become ill and your body no longer has the energy to protect you from the change that incurs from an illness? Who ends up fighting for that person?
More often than not, the fight gets passed on to the family. The family members who take on these challenges are fighting their own daily battles: having a full-time job, getting their kid to soccer practice at 3pm, grocery shopping and preparing dinner, cleaning, getting their oil changed. As we all know a little too well, the list is never-ending. Who has the time to learn about the intricacies of our healthcare system? Who has the time to learn about coverage options for medical equipment (DME) and care within the home? And once you do find out if your DME is covered, how do you choose which supplier to go to? Coordinating home equipment and care is often an overlooked area of healthcare.
My intrinsic motivation to pursue a career in healthcare started at a pretty young age. My grandmother was diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation that resulted in her battling several different types of cancers during the course of her life. I grew up going to her doctor's appointments, looking over the shoulder of her provider at a screen filled with a bunch of red numbers from her lab results and ‘bumpy’ lungs. My grandmother required oxygen 24/7; if something went wrong with her stationary concentrator, or if she ran out of her portable tanks, it would be a 30-minute drive to the nearest DME supplier, and a 40-minute drive to the nearest hospital. Living in a rural community, care coordination was beyond crucial. If something fell through, it resulted in (another) hospital admission, which can be both emotionally and financially draining. This early exposure to the healthcare system and its complexities was a huge driving force in my career search. It led me to question how can we make this better? What role can I play to make a difference in improving quality of care in rural communities? How can I make sure another family doesn’t go through what ours did through the course of my grandmother’s care?
I started to explore the answer to these questions while working in a level 1 trauma center 6 years ago. Working in a high-volume emergency department at an academic institution was an incredible experience that I will always treasure; I was spoiled with intelligent and compassionate coworkers and mentors who demonstrated patient-centric decision making day in and day out. It may be ironic that in a place filled with tragedy and organized chaos is where I found purpose and peace. Initially starting down the path of clinical medicine and becoming a physician's assistant, it was the global Covid-19 pandemic that made me reconsider. Working in an ED for two years during Covid was exhausting, and after witnessing and experiencing compassion fatigue in families, providers, and myself alike, this exposure is what inspired me to make a pivot and dedicate my career to digital health.
Digital health is a space where positive long-term impact can really be made, and Tomorrow Health is a living, breathing example of that. We are tackling some of healthcare’s biggest questions and challenges. It is a place where coordination of care can save that 40-minute drive to a hospital, a place that can avoid an unnecessary ED visit to a department with limited resources and no beds, a place that can save a patient and their family a $31,000+ admission. It is a place that focuses of proactive care, rather than reactive care. It is a place that can lift some of the burden and ease provider burnout. It is a place that can save a couple hours of a caregiver’s day so that they can watch their kid’s soccer game or get their oil changed. It is a place where the goal is simple: Fight Like Hell for Patients. The best career advice I have ever received is: “find your people, the rest will make sense.” I feel lucky enough to say that I have found my people here at Tomorrow Health, a genuinely patient-centric company in an industry that needs it. I am eager to continue to play my role, Fighting Like Hell and growing alongside Tomorrow Health, tomorrow and every day after that.