I'm Derrick (they/them), CEO and Co-Founder of Queerly Health. AMA about healthtech and more!
Hi Makers! I'm the CEO and Co-Founder of Queerly Health, a NYC based startup leveraging digital health to bridge the gap between the LGBTQ+ community and safe, comprehensive, and culturally competent health and wellness providers. I see a near future, where all health and wellness settings are LGBTQ+ inclusive. Until then, there's Queerly Health: a marketplace of vetted and trained providers for LGBTQ+ competency and telehealth tools, like online scheduling. Our goal is to one day eliminate LGBTQ+ health disparities by circumventing existing barriers to access and filling in gaps in access. I got my start in tech by becoming a software engineering student at Flatiron School and a member of Out in Tech and StartOut. Prior to starting Queerly Health, I achieved a Master’s Degree in Human Development & Social Intervention at NYU with an Advanced Certification in LGBTQ+ Health, Education, and Social Services. I also worked on NIH funded clinical research studies and directed a NYC funded LGBTQ+ youth program. AMA about coding bootcamps, breaking into tech, starting a company, community building, working in the digital health space or anything else. I'll answer questions on Friday, February 14th.
Posted in Makers
What was your experience of Flatiron School? Were you able to start building your platform right after the course?
@abadesi Plot Twist: I got to about the middle of the online bootcamp and realized that the trajectory I was on would take several years. My goal was to become a software engineer, then work at a health tech company, and then one day start building Queerly Health. I felt a sense of urgency around getting this done sooner rather later because I know how badly LGBTQ+ folks needed this. It dawned on me one day during a coding lesson that I was never going to be "ready enough", my idea was never going to be "perfect enough", and maybe preparing myself for "one day" was just secretly disempowering context. That was on a Wednesday, that Friday I pitched the idea for Queerly Health at a Latinx in Tech Startup Weekend event and, long story short, it won First Place and Crowd Favorite. I immediately hit the ground running after that. Seize the day.
Nice! What's the hardest (or one of the hardest) things of building a startup in healthtech? Curious your response (also on the healthtech wave).
@tony_nielsen I think in StartupLand there's often this mad dash to a first MVP. Some companies create and launch their first MVP in just a few weeks or even a few days. When it comes to something as personal and vulnerable as health, that's something you and your team really want to take your time on. "Measure twice, cut once" type of precaution and attention. Startups are expected to make mistakes, especially in the beginning. But a small error at a healthtech startup could be a potentially much larger problem, like a HIPAA violation. Depending on what you're building, healthtech companies often have to be built with certain parameters in mind as defined by existing regulations and regulators, like the FDA for example. This may also include third-party compliance reviews of your healthtech company. This isn't super challenging. The challenging part might be (especially, if you're bootstrapping) deciding when and how to pay for all that and how it fits into your timeline since some of this can be costly and processes can take a few months.
What was the moment (either in your life or a customers) that made you realize Queerly should exist?
@kirk_fernandes A few years back, I needed a new primary doctor and it was pretty difficult to navigate the U.S. healthcare system as an LGBTQ+ person. Even with everything that I knew and living in New York City, which is one of the more accessible cities when it comes to LGBTQ+ health. I was actually turned away from one LGBTQ+ health center because they were at capacity and no longer took new patients. Many LGBTQ+ people just flat out delay or avoid healthcare settings because of all these obstacles that present themselves. I knew there had to be a better, easier, and faster way to do this without so many points of resistance, without the fear of discrimination, and without having to live in a major metropolitan area.
What is Queerly's revenue model? How do you center queer patients needs while also accommodating providers, payors, or health systems?
@kaitlin_marquardt Our goal is to make Queerly Health as accessible to LGBTQ+ people as possible. Since we're a dual sided marketplace, that meant we could generate revenue from one side, the providers. This removes a cost barrier from the other side, LGBTQ+ individuals. We'll be charging providers monthly (or annual) three tier subscriptions. LGBTQ+ individuals are largely underserved when it comes to health and wellness. Providers, payors, and health systems need individuals to use their services and products, but LGBTQ+ people know the traditional healthcare system isn't really made for us in mind so we tend to just avoid it. Queerly Health is a new space between the two groups. We have several measures in place that are essentially gatekeepers for our platform so LGBTQ+ folks know this is a safe space. A safe space where LGBTQ+ folks can get the care we need and providers can serve this "hard to reach" population.
Following this to see the answers on the 14th
@michael_kirkegaard_clausen Feel free to ask a question if one comes up for you.
What's Queerly's revenue model? How do you plan on keeping focused on patients needs if revenue comes from providers or payers? Is there any plan to integrate with existing health systems or software?
@kaitlin_marquardt Providers will be able to choose monthly (or annual) subscriptions. LGBTQ+ individuals are at the center of why we're building Queerly Health. It's why we're a Benefit Corporation. One of our goals is to shift power back into the hands of LGBTQ+ individuals when it comes to our health and wellness. We're building in ways for individuals to provide feedback on their needs and we're making sure to curate a marketplace of providers that will be able to meet those needs. We're in talks with existing health systems now.
Thanks everyone for chiming in. This AMA is now closed.
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