Fast Five with Helena Plater-Zyberk

Helena Plater-Zyberk
CEO and Co-Founder

1. What has you most optimistic about the future of health care?

In the digital health realm, I’m optimistic that our collective aim is moving beyond merely digitizing real-world processes and care modalities. We don’t need to be limited by how things have always been done, and I see the healthcare industry reaching for loftier goals—providing more accessible, higher quality and more patient-centric care that is only possible with AI or high-tech assistance. We are asking how we can maximize well-being and health equity, rather than a narrow focus on minimizing disease with limited physical resources.

2. How do you think health care stakeholders can bring care closer to consumers/patients?

Health care stakeholders have a bad habit of immediately medicalizing everything. As a patient, finding out that my diagnosis is a torn ligament or clinical depression just isn’t that helpful. A label doesn’t change how I feel.

Consumer-patients want care providers to speak in the real-world language of the pain they’re feeling–physically or emotionally. They want providers to listen to the needs they express. For example, the health distress I’m in is affecting my livelihood and causing disruption in my closest relationships. I need to regain function, regardless of my diagnosis. How do we craft a plan to do that?

Healthcare stakeholders truly have the opportunity to transform care by attending and reacting to the actual expressed needs of patients and consumers.

3. What does well-being mean to you?

Well-being today means so much more than simply offering an array of miscellaneous benefits. Truly supporting human needs, and therefore productivity, goes back to listening. What new needs are emerging as our shared reality changes? In Supportiv’s experience, during the pandemic, members noticeably pleaded for boosted support around parenting assistance, caregiving assistance, addiction resources, and trauma like grief and domestic violence surges.

Who is doing well-being “right”? Those who have tapped into human psyches, really listened, and reacted quickly to ameliorate emerging needs.

4. How have you helped your employees manage stress caused by the pandemic?

When an event like the pandemic occurs, ignoring the inordinate stress employees are coping with in their personal lives isn’t an option–it’s recklessly demotivating to act like business can continue as usual. To help our employees balance newfound stresses, we’ve instituted bi-weekly virtual “group hangs’ where we talk openly about what’s going on in our personal lives. Business-related discussion is disallowed. It’s a chance to engage with the human condition we all deal with, so that we’re less impacted by it during regular work hours.

5. What motivates you to keep doing the work that you do?

Few of us get to hear that we’re changing someone’s life for the better. Operating a peer-to-peer emotional support network, the Supportiv team receives that feedback on a daily basis. We wake up every day knowing that what we do matters, to thousands of people. Especially as our mental health provider shortage continues to escalate, I’m driven by knowing that Supportiv is uniquely positioned to help bridge the care gap. There is no greater privilege than to be able to provide a novel, accessible solution to people experiencing such intense mental and emotional health needs.