pontes newsletter #5

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Hello beautiful people!

Since an eccentric philosophy professor once lectured me that friendship is upheld by shared ritual, let’s go ahead and fulfill our hydration priority: grab a glass of water, tea or something delicious to enjoy as you swallow the upcoming paragraphs!

I hope you’ve been healthy and have had many-a-laughs since we were last here. Things on my end have been filled with magic, change and challenge. Well, here we go.

Last I reached out I was caught in a post-Roche-acquisition-daze of confusion; I was unsure what it would mean for product priority at the company to be owned by a healthcare titan with tendrils in so many corners of the industry. I was skeptical about how the company would straddle furthering pharmacological interest (through both label-extensions & scientific-value-add-research) while continuing to help patients’ lives along the way. I raised my hand and expressed my concerns. I was upfront with some mentors of mine that a lot of the short term projects that were slated for work weren’t motivating me. I thought that none of it was directly impacting some dire problems I really care about, namely patients' ability to access healthcare or astronomical costs of end-of-life-care.

Choosing to be explicit about my disatisfaction opened a lot of doors. I was told by a sage-and-sassy mentor of mine to make a short list of projects within these problem-spaces that would excite me to show up to work every morning. I was then encouraged to make a sub-list of all potential teams within the company that would care about these projects, and think through how that furthers each respective team’s mission. The subsequent advice was refreshing and outside of my wheelhouse: I then proceeded to make loose-but-conservative revenue estimates for each of these projects (you gotta speak the man’s language!) In a matter of two slightly-frazzling-but-exciting weeks I was able to start developing software for chronic care management (CCM).

About two-thirds of Medicare’s population is at a high-morbidity-risk, making them entitled to additional touch-points with clinical staff through the CCM program. Medicare is not the only health plan that allows for this, a few private plans (like BCBS) have followed suit. But today less than 2% of patients are receiving these additional touch-points; one reason for this program’s abysmal underutilization is that healthcare providers don’t have the time to figure out whether a patient is eligible for CCM. That’s the piece of the puzzle I am tackling first: how can we make it really easy for clinical staff to know through the electronic health record system who their high-comorbidity-CCM-eligible patients are? How can we make this information available to them at a point in time when they can take action on it? It’s an interesting problem that so far seems to have the potential to be impactful; my heart and mind are tingling!

A few months ago my soul-sister Emily left NYC, headed to the gloomier-and-perhaps-more-joyful London for an awesome new initiative at her work. Since then, it’s been a challenge to find “home” in NYC. That young lady marked this city and my life by encouraging me to accept myself through humor. For that I am eternally grateful. In an attempt to reach out into the social bowels of this city for a semblance of a “community”, I hung up a laminated sign on the back of my bike: “Fienin’ for friendly folk; HMU @ bkbikebroad@gmail”

The sign has no further explanation (self-selection, anyone?); But for mom & dad’s sake, I should probably add translations: fienin’ means searching for, HMU means hit me up. That dorky-and-slightly-creepy-but-also-hopefully-charming alliteration has spurred incredibly surprising and revitalizing interactions with countless members of the rare-but-not-extinct friendly-new-yorker-breed; some of these interactions have slowly but deeply moved me. This past weekend I found myself at Bay Ridge’s 3rd avenue fair (downtown Brooklyn, for those who haven’t had the pleasure). It was a day filled with dancing, hugging, skipping, eating and laughing. But the best part was the group of lovely humans that surrounded me, the range of eclectic and electric personalities that inspire me in the most unexpected of ways.

There’s the high school yearbook teacher, digital design professor and street-collector of arts-and-things; she’s always teasing beauty out of everything she looks at. There’s the russian student-and-thinker who’s distanced himself from peace and conflict studies to better understand the human instinct of victimization (& unshakable focus on what is different between us versus the underlying sea of similarities); he gives outstanding hugs. There’s the laughing-and-dancing-machine who helps many channel new york intensity through a slower-and-more-aware yoga practice; he has a track record of asking high-mileage questions and lubricating any conversation with his subtle nods and penetrating gaze. And then there’s Simit, the gentle and thoughtful and joyful and witty wanderlust that’s welcomed me into this community. He’s encouraging me to live instead of recite my life’s message. He’s inspiring within me a newfound appreciation for silence (is he a unicorn? the messiah? an indian delight? all of the above?). He’s motivating me to create and explore in uncountable ways: art is practice & we are making magic together.

And the community keeps expanding… Mine is about to experience a tectonic shift as my sister welcomes my niece into the world at the end of this year! I am beyond thrilled to rediscover the mundane through her eyes. I am curious about how this will change what family means to me. I am also really looking forward to seeing Tencie & Sam (the super-parents!) develop closer and closer into their ideal selves as they lead life through example to this malleable and curious baby girl we have already welcomed into our hearts. Any advice to aunts-to-be?

And that, folks, is a wrap. It’s a pleasure to crack open a window into my life for you. The door also happens to be unlocked: I hope to hear from you. How are you feeling today? What’s been making you smile lately?

With love,