Helping Physicians and Patients Make More Informed Decisions with S. Thacher Hussain, Patient Advocate, and Front End Developer at WiserCare, Inc.
: [00:00:01] Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast, where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez
Saul Marquez: [00:00:19] Welcome back once again to the outcomes bracket podcast where we chat with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders. I invite you to go to outcomesrocket.health to rate and review the podcast outcomesrocket.health/reviews. And I have an amazing guest for you today. Her name is Thacher Hussain. She's a software developer and patient advocate. She's currently serving as a front end developer at Wiser Care Incorporated in Seattle. Her focus is definitely in clinical situations preferences and values aimed to give more confident treatment decisions to both patients as well as physicians and clinicians. She's done a lot of things as a patient advocate as well. She's motivated by her own diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes and she's become very active in improving the healthcare ecosystem for both patients and providers. Whether it's speaking writing or just using her skills as a developer she is fully committed to helping patients find their voice and providers learn how to best support these patients without further ado. I just want to open up the microphone to this amazing woman and welcome you to the podcast, Thacher.
Thacher Hussain: [00:01:31] Thanks for having me.
Saul Marquez: [00:01:32] It is a pleasure to have you. And I wanted to ask you what got you involved into this system to begin with.
Thacher Hussain: [00:01:40] Yeah actually I was an industrial and systems engineer in university. I guess I am an investor engineer now and I had the opportunity as the senior to do some research where that point is somewhat new field of healthcare engineering and it was the first time I felt like I was doing something big with what I was good at and so that was a real sort of game changer for me. Going from a student thing you like to solve problems to hey look this is something where there's a real area for improvement and something that I think I can help with. And so that actually well before my diagnosis set me in the healthcare direction.
Saul Marquez: [00:02:24] That is so cool and it's so neat that you found it pretty quickly out of the gates just a way to apply the things that you're amazing at in a field where you get the sense of gratification and that you're making an impact.
Thacher Hussain: [00:02:37] Yeah absolutely. And I mean for better or worse health care has a long way to go. So on the one hand as an engineering problem solver that's a great problem. The other hand you know as a patient and looking to help providers. We've got some good news to make.
Saul Marquez: [00:02:53] For sure for sure. Totally agree. Betcher what would you say should be on every medical leaders agenda today. And how are you guys focused on this particular topic.
Thacher Hussain: [00:03:03] Yeah I I'd say bringing patients into the process is probably the thing. And so there's some. But beyond that is really just working as a team with all parties involved. Sometimes you get patient advocates speaking and not to notice at all if the patient narrative the diagnosis message definitely has to be heard and it's something that I've spoken to as well. But we need to take the next step and go towards obtaining discussions between doctors and patients and the entire care team. So turning that into productive discussion to not only bringing patients into the process of bringing patients caregivers whether it be pharma or trials and having an entire conversation that need to be everyone in a room physical conversation but making sure that all parties involved who the care of this patient on the design of this product or whatever task you're addressing are all involved at every possible stage so that you don't get something like a product that's been built phenomenally by your researchers and engineers that hasn't seen review from either a doctor or a patient when you're already getting to prototyping and those are just gashing that should be happening well before you are talking about anything physical.
Saul Marquez: [00:04:23] Yeah I think this is great you know and blowing it down to the basics right you've got to have the people involved in the problem. All in the room. You can't move forward on this. Every single person all the stakeholders are in the room. What is it that you all are doing where you're at now Thacher to make this happen.
Thacher Hussain: [00:04:40] Yeah I'd say probably most in my independent work that's something that I'm trying to help our organizations to do. I'm being grateful to have opportunities like Medicaid and Health 2.0 to really speak to larger groups of physicians and professionals. He has as much power as we have as patients we really need the buy in from the medical teams in order to make that conversation happen. So even just free up the idea you know whether that's professionally a software developer. I get to have input on how we build our platform to help doctors and patients make more informed decisions that are going there and so that is definitely a piece of what I think about bringing my perspective as a patient into what I do as an engineer. Every time I'm building something like OK how now that we've built it and where does it still fit what we're looking for for the patient. So really just trying to promote that model of decision making with bringing all your stakeholders like you said to the table and making sure those decisions, direction, mission whatever whether it's an idea or project to me an idea or product or a physical promise that it's coming through with all of the expertise that you have access to. Nothing should be wasted. You want to hear from every doctor with an important opinion. You want to hear from every caregiver every patient every researcher has something to give you or make sure you're taking advantage of that.
Saul Marquez: [00:06:13] I think that's absolutely point. And you know a lot of times we get into situations and we neglect including the people as part of the decision and that's when things fall through the cracks and we don't achieve our actual goals or the implementation or the product that we had in mind doesn't exactly go as as needed. And so listeners, there's a great note to take from Thacher in the things that you have will be a device company pharma or provider or physician. Just making sure that you're always including the different people that are at the table. Thacher. Can you give us an example of something that you guys recently developed or an experience that you recently had a story of how you've been able to do this successfully.
Thacher Hussain: [00:06:58] Yeah absolutely. I'd say 4 with wiser care as a decision support platform. We really aim to take into account both physicians and patients and then being research fact as well. So we're taking into account the physician prescribes our platform essentially to the patient at the time of diagnosis. For example prostate cancer is one of our models that we use. And then the patient goes with this thing rather than having to make immediate decisions you know on the spot with the doctor which let's be real no one's making single decisions after receiving a diagnosis like that. There is absolutely no way that your calm and rational laugh and have enough information to make a decision. So that's what the problem that we're trying to address in giving the patient access to this forum to be able to really learn and go through and apply their preferences so that they're best prepared and going back for that discretion with the doctor because there are things that we can't change you know in a heartbeat or tomorrow or even next year you know that 20 minute conversation with a doctor if we get any longer for insurance reasons for practical reasons for staffing reasons. But how can we optimize that time and so that was a product. You know we talked to physicians all the time and are using the product we go through the schedulers and clinic admin to make sure that the patients are being heard in every way that we can bring the opinion to to me those opinions and to the way that we build the product. That's what we're doing.
Saul Marquez: [00:08:41] Very very powerful and you know I just go back to a year ago you know I had had a friend that just from one minute to the next like he got diagnosed with some pretty bad cancer and within a couple of months he was gone. And this was a year ago and it just you know being on the outskirts of that I was even just I was at a loss for words and just trying to have to make decisions decision that. Imagine being that patient receiving that news and what you do to decide on your care and the time frame that these physicians have Thacher. Like you said is just so limited. I think it's wonderful that you guys are putting together programs and software and tools to help maximize that time. So I think that was a great sharing. Thank you for that.
Thacher Hussain: [00:09:27] Yeah absolutely. It's something that I really believe in and I think that this product is going to help a lot of people.
Saul Marquez: [00:09:33] Thacher you're you as a software developer and patient no better than anybody else that there are bumps in the road and that on the way to figuring it out there's bumps in the road. Can you share with us a time when you had a setback and what you learned from it.
Thacher Hussain: [00:09:49] Yeah absolutely. From a more personal perspective here I am different type 1 diabetics or people with diabetes depending on who you talk to and how they like to be referred to. We'll have differing opinions on that. But for me every time I have a bad low blood glucose event that's a failure for me. Failure is a strong word. I'd say maybe more of a mistake than a failure but because of the system that I use the open artificial pancreas. Augments pumps that are insulin pump that I wear combined with a blood glucose monitor continuous blood glucose monitor every failure is not necessarily only food or exercise or behavior. For me I get to sort of abstract and look at it as a system failure or an engineering troubleshooting exercise. So it's not necessarily something that I have to feel emotionally bad about although that is definitely from a patient perspective it's really hard to separate out what is my fault and what is negative about fattier versus what is something that is out of my control. But I like to really try to turn that around every single time and figure out what I can learn from it and whether that hey you know 45 minutes on the treadmill it's five minutes too long or hey I had an interruption in their service and my system went off line for half an hour and I didn't notice. And I got stuck at a basal radio. What have you been into those details but being able to break that down and very engineering type way and sort of postmortem for the worst word ever. I guess you review what the possible causes for there were how to best address those. Next time is really helpful for me and definitely killing that mistake around to learning plane is helpful in every way I can think of.
Saul Marquez: [00:11:50] Love it. A great great example Thacher especially one that you're living with and so many millions of Americans and people across the world are living with. And it's something that when you take it to the system's level it's something that can be applied very very elegantly that it like Google says you've got a fail forward and don't do things personally right. Better look at the system things that could be improved at potential connectivity issues or whatever it could be so that you could fix as many of the variables as possible so that when you move forward you have a system that's working really well. So I love your example because it applies so much to the individual level as much as it does to the systems level. And just thank you so much for sharing that personal story. Absolutely. What about on the other side of a proud medical leadership moment that you had or can you share one with the listeners.
Thacher Hussain: [00:12:43] Yeah absolutely. I think and I was thinking about this listening to some of your other episodes which I love by the way you're doing a phenomenal job.
Saul Marquez: [00:12:51] Thank you.
Thacher Hussain: [00:12:52] I think being heard as a patient and this has happened in more public and more private moments as far as individual doctors coming up to me and saying you know I hadn't thought about it that way or I didn't consider this that or the other that I honestly believe that everyone in healthcare is coming from a place of wanting to help. And that's something I think that gets lost sometimes. So being heard as a patient and getting that narrative across to people who may not think about that every day because that is my every day. And so being able to hear from other people OK they're thinking about something in X Y or Z. From that perspective but then being able to turn that around and say you know yeah building a better more efficient fill in the blank is very important. But have you considered the emotional ramifications of that product. You're asking a person to wear a nebulizer mask 12 hours a day. Have you thought about the fact that they have three children under five. Completely absolutely not. It's little things like that. So if I can help one physician ask one more question with one more patient I'll consider that.
Saul Marquez: [00:14:12] Love it. This is awesome. And you know there's no doubt Thacher that you're definitely leading the way here as a voice for the patient and advocate. And so keep doing what you're doing because what you're doing is inspiring others to do the same and you're being the CEO of your own health care and that's what matters that's what's going to make this entire experience for other people powerful. So kudos to you and your leadership in this field.
Thacher Hussain: [00:14:39] Thank you so much.
Saul Marquez: [00:14:41] So Thatcher let's talk about an exciting project that you're working on today. Anything you want to share or can share.
Thacher Hussain: [00:14:47] Yeah absolutely. I have a project that I'm working on the pet project for sure but oh I think it's relevant to what we've been talking about. I met a friend who I guess made a new friend from the accelerator program through Diabetes Hands Foundation. Almost a year ago now and I was struck. She's a diabetic educator in Costa Rica also a type 1 diabetic and I'm very into all of the technology stuff as we've talked about and the products I went with there was taking using Apple Halket and taking the data that coming out of the continuous glucose monitor and putting it in a format that is more conducive to a system Diprose could continue that theme and to be able to see your patterns more easily. But I had almost a 180 degree pivot after having conversations with her and a couple other people at that event because I realize how lucky I am to have access to the care that I do. The fact that I live in a country where insulin pumps and continuous glucose those are available that I'm in a position where I have insurance and can afford that. And while this is not sort of a woe with me or you know any sort of thing like that realizing that where she is that and the patient that she's dealing with they don't even have access to continuous glucose monitors. Financial yes but even taking a step back and not even available in order to have a continuous glucose monitor in Costa Rica. You have to go through with the U.S. which has numerous regulatory and financial affects that just make it completely out of reach for the majority of people. So taking the idea that I had to bring in two basal rates was that was what I was looking at something in diabetes care. If you don't have your basal rate right you know it's just there's nothing else that's going to go right free throws like if you don't have the ground floor the rest your house can collapse. Yep. So in order to get that right for people who are probably on long acting insulin pens are shot and not having access to an insulin pump. How do we help those people find to their base. All right. And so that's something I'm working on with her now taking my software expertise. I'm looking at building an application that can be deployed and now we're looking at a whole different kind of project restraint. So rather than oh this is really cool let's use Apple healthcare. We're going to build on IOS. We can't build on IOS are expensive. Now those are really expensive and not attainable for a lot of people. All right we're building on android Data wireless data is not as reliable and some people can't afford plans that are going to have the amount of data that someone like us in the U.S. has access to. So it needs to be something that's solidly on the phone. So these are things that I've now visited and are we are addressing from a totally different perspective and I'm just so grateful to have met her and to be able to see. I was going to say this strong from another angle but really just this whole different problem that because of the perspective or how has me. I hadn't even thought about before so that I like set up a pet project something that I am working on with this friend and on my own trying to get a prototype out of her as fast as possible so you can see there's also very high. Yeah I was quickly as possible don't get the user feedback and you build a better product but hoping to finish that soon at least get the first round out.
Saul Marquez: [00:18:38] You had that sure. This is exciting and you're working on this amazing thing to help people. And the reality is I think what's going to end up happening is here in the states as well. We've got this you know social determinants of health that affect patients that don't have access to a lot of these things even though they're available. And I was reading an article by Jane Saranson Kahn she talks about how broadband. You know having broadband connection can be a social determinant of health because you know you can get access to information or whatever you know. And so I think what you're doing even though you may not see it right now I think it's going to have its applications here in the States too.
Thacher Hussain: [00:19:21] And it's definitely an interesting thing to consider I'll have to look at that article.
Saul Marquez: [00:19:25] Yeah I'll send it to you. And so wow super cool. Thank you for sharing. And it's like you know my side project. I'm just shipping out solutions to solve diabetes and other nations. It's already a Thacher.
Thacher Hussain: [00:19:39] That's a grand a grand statement for what I definitely feel health project. But I will I will accept.
: [00:19:46] That's so awesome. I love you for that you keep it so simple. You're very humble. Keep doing what you're doing. So awesome. All right. This is crazy how fast time flies when you're having fun. So we're here to the end. Let's pretend you and I are building a leadership course on what it takes to be successful in medicine. Except now it's the ABCs of Thacher Hussein. But this is going to be all about using software and patient focus and health care. So I got four questions for you followed by a book for the syllabus that we're building for the listeners are you ready?
Thacher Hussain: [00:20:16] Yup.
Saul Marquez: [00:20:16] All right. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes with software.
Thacher Hussain: [00:20:20] Work with your whole team all parties included your patient your MDs, clinician and your researchers.
Saul Marquez: [00:20:28] What's the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid with patients.
Thacher Hussain: [00:20:32] Thinking that you got this and that you know everything that you need to know because no matter who you are on the team that's not true.
Saul Marquez: [00:20:41] Love it. How do you stay relevant as an organization. Despite constant change she could answer that one. However you see fit
Thacher Hussain: [00:20:48] Stay curious stay hungry.
Saul Marquez: [00:20:49] And what's one area of focus should drive everything else in your organization.
Thacher Hussain: [00:20:54] Helping people live better.
Saul Marquez: [00:20:55] And what book would you recommend Thacher for the listeners to read.
Thacher Hussain: [00:20:58] A little bit of her are related but Man's Search for Meaning.
Saul Marquez: [00:21:05] I love that.
Thacher Hussain: [00:21:06] Yeah it's one of my absolute favorite. It's applicable to everyone.
Saul Marquez: [00:21:10] Victor Frankl.
Thacher Hussain: [00:21:11] It was a game changer yeah.
Saul Marquez: [00:21:12] Oh my god.
Thacher Hussain: [00:21:13] The game changer when I read it.
Saul Marquez: [00:21:15] Totally couldn't agree with you more listeners. Great book. Amazing tidbits here. Pearls of wisdom from Thatcher. All these things are available to you. Don't worry about writing them down. Just go to outcomesrocket.health/thacher. That's t h a c h e r. Thacher. This has been amazing so much fun. Before I conclude I'd love if you could just share a closing thought with the listeners and the best place where they could reach out to you and follow you.
Thacher Hussain: [00:21:40] Yeah I'd say as opposing just brings humility empathy and passion into everything that you do and you can't go wrong. Something that I try to remember from myself every day. And then as far as finding me you can find me on the Twitter @thacherT1D or on my website. deardiabetesyousuck.com.
Saul Marquez: [00:22:08] Love it. Love it.
Thacher Hussain: [00:22:11] There's a link to my professional portfolio on there too but I think that one is more relevant hold that if you don't recension.
Saul Marquez: [00:22:18] It's beautiful I love it.
Saul Marquez: [00:22:21] There's like my favorite url now.
Thacher Hussain: [00:22:23] It came from a from my first Facebook post after I was diagnosed and I didn't know how to process it so I process by writing letters to diabetes. That was the first letter that is so short and sweet.
Saul Marquez: [00:22:37] That is so cool. Well listeners all these things if you want to get a hold of Thacher just go to outcomesrocket.health/thatcher and you'll find I'll put her twitter link in there I'll put her dear diabetes you suck website and make sure you get in touch with you of something she said resonated with you. Thacher. This has been so much fun. Really appreciate you jumping on the podcast with us.
Thacher Hussain: [00:22:57] Yes absolutely, thanks for having me. Keep doing what you're doing. I love I love listening to your episodes.
Saul Marquez: [00:23:03] Thank you.
: [00:23:07] Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.health for the show notes resources inspiration and so much more.
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