Lisa Fitzpatrick knows firsthand from her work in Southeast D.C. how hard it is for some families in the District to find accessible, affordable healthcare. That’s why she’s launching a new venture that utilizes both video and texting to deliver simple health information to residents.
Called Promoting Practical Health, her startup aims to help low-income residents learn more about basic health care and disease prevention, such as tips for preventing and treating asthma, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
“Every person has a solution to achieving and sustaining good health. The key is understanding how to get there,” said Fitzpatrick.
According to a study conducted by the Urban Institute and the Center on Society and Health in 2015, 22.8 percent of American adults who say they have annual salaries of less than $35,000 report that they’re in “poor health.” The same report shows that low-income participants had higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke risk and other chronic disorders.
Fitzpatrick’s product is still at an early stage, with the team currently focused on getting customer feedback, collecting more data and building the testing platform.
The company has been registered as a corporation for almost five years, and it actively launched as a business last month with the help of Project 500. As one of the 10 entrepreneurs from Project 500’s Ascend 2020 business development program, Fitzpatrick said she was able to get her business off the ground.
“I cannot start this forward without the resources of the 500,” said Fitzpatrick. “It provided the framework, the business savvy, the legal assistance, and everything you need to get your business started.”
Through Promoting Practical Health’s texting feature, people can text a specified number and ask about a mild health condition. Someone on the team will text back and go through a set of prescribed questions to figure out what’s up. However, it should be noted, this platform is not a replacement for calling 9-1-1.
“For low-income people, texting is still available,” said Fitzpatrick.
The second part of her business is a series of health literacy videos, found on YouTube and Facebook. Right now, Fitzpatrick said she’s looking for corporate sponsors to help with production, marketing and valuation fees.
Fitzpatrick has 20 years under her belt as a trained medical epidemiologist and board-certified infectious diseases physician. Before starting Promoting Practical Health, she opened Community Wellness Collective to help low-income communities in Southeast D.C. At least 600 people joined the program and it offered exercise classes including yoga, Pilates, Zumba and mediation.
The collective shut down in 2015, after two years of operation, due to a lack of funding for the volunteer program. Fitzpatrick said she’s now collectively put in close to $50,000 of her own money into both the Community Wellness Collective and Promoting Practical Health.
Now, for Promoting Practical Health, Fitzpatrick is looking seeking out insurance companies for sponsorships and angel investors.
Fitzpatrick hopes to land her first customer in 2018, and she said she might bring on a co-founder to help her get started.
“I want to show technology can also be used to improve health for the poor,” said Fitzpatrick.