Thursday, July 18, 2013

DohJe: the Walls Around Caregiver City

Everyone wants to know "how it all started".  Below is the letter written to a  fantastic nurse by my friend and DohJe CEO, Amanda Krantz.  It's the reason she started this whole endeavor and a glimpse into what happens when something cannot be brushed aside or ignored any longer.  

But first, a little note.  

I never imagined it would be so difficult to find a specific someone in healthcare.  After in-person visits and many phone calls and emails later, Amanda was finally given the email address for the nurse that she wanted to thank.  Through her experience and the experiences of many of you, we have learned that hospitals are so locked-down and worried about privacy that they aren't letting in the gratitude.  Safety and privacy are very important.  But so is gratitude and its impact on both the givers and receivers of care.  And I think we can all agree that stalking a caregiver on Facebook shouldn't be the way we find and thank them.

This is why we need DohJe.  We need a way to say "thank you" five years later.  We need immediate notification, even if the expression of gratitude was delayed.  We need to close the loop.  We need to stop writing this "little note" and let you read the letter.

Hi Laura,

I met you 5 years ago when you were assigned to me for labor and delivery of my first son at CPMC.  I've been wanting to say thank you for taking such great care of me!  I'm sorry I never was able to deliver my gratitude until now, but I thought you'd like to know how very grateful I am for the great care you gave me.   I stopped by the hospital a few times in person but you weren't working at those times, and I'm not sure if anyone ever passed along my note.

I know you see tons of patients and this description may still not help you remember who I am, and that's OK. I'll share anyway just to give you some context.  I've also attached a recent picture of my son Jude (who you helped deliver) and my second son, Kai who was delivered by VBAC with no drugs at UCSF (no offense against CPMC, but UCSF was more supportive of a VBAC).

With Jude, I was hoping to labor at home as long as possible and then have an unmedicated birth at the hospital.  However, my baby wasn't moving much the last few weeks and then I was admitted to CPMC to try to induce labor.  Before we even got to the pitocin step, you called in the docs for a c-section. I remember clearly looking to you to make sure I had to do that, and you told me, "yes, I called them in."  I never met you before, but I somehow completely trusted you.  Maybe it was because you had done a home birth yourself but I think it was also because you seemed to really care about me and understand my concerns about medical intervention.  When they gave me the option to take a wheel chair to the operating room, you asked me if I wanted to walk.  I had no idea how important something as simple as that was to me, but looking back at it afterwards, it was huge. Thank you for caring and doing the little things that you didn't have to do. It was really appreciated!  I later found out that when I was stuck in the OR recovery room for many hours because there were no rooms available in the postpartum area, you stuck around and made sure they did not take Jude away. I heard you made sure my son stayed with me, and Vitamin K shot or anything else he needed you would do right there. Thanks again.   

With the birth of my second son, 8 months went by before I went up to UCSF to thank that nurse, but I was able to thank her in person. I started asking her about how other people say thank you, and how we could make it easier so after having a baby and you're super tired, you can still find a simple way to say thanks. I started working on DohJe the following week.   I thought you might like to know that you were part of the inspiration for the site.  We just launched, so it's not working very well on mobile yet, and we still have a lot we want to improve. But you can check it out at and let me know what you think.   :)

Thanks again for being such an amazing nurse and person.


Unfortunately, that letter was sent more than two months ago, and Amanda has not yet received a reply from Laura.  Maybe she doesn't often check her messages.  Maybe she felt that she didn't need to respond.  Maybe it was the wrong email address.

So dropping by the hospital to connect or calling to express your gratitude to a specific caregiver rarely works.  And now we know sending a letter via email, even though the address was obtained through management, doesn't guarantee your words and photos will end up in front of the right person.  Caregivers are enclosed by so much fortification!  And how many times can we honestly expect the average grateful person to try?

What’s the solution?  DohJe and a mobile application.

Nearly every nurse, doctor, tech and every other person in industry carries a smartphone.  There's a tiny crack in the wall surrounding Caregiver City, and we're going to use technology to shine in some gratitude.  We’re working on the DohJe mobile app, and if we build it thoughtfully enough, caregivers will see a whole lot more gratitude within their fortress.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DohJe and the Path to Wisdom

As a startup, DohJe is faced with interesting challenges daily.  Thus far, we have been self-funded, self-reliant, and happy about it.  A few months ago, a fantastic entrepreneur and Stanford graduate, Vanessa Callison-Burch, let Amanda (DohJe CEO) know about an innovative award opportunity.  The Wisdom Award is “designed to further develop the great ideas that help people learn and share awareness, wisdom, and compassion.”  Vanessa’s endeavor, What Matters Now, provides websites for people affected by serious illness or injury and was one of three 2012 winners.  She urged Amanda to take a chance and apply for the award.  We decided to give it a shot.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Wisdom”?  A bent-over elder with silver hair and cryptic answers that all make sense later on in the journey?  I have the silver hair, but wisdom is not something I can say I own just yet.  Wisdom is more than intelligence and more than experience.  Wisdom comes when knowledge and experience meet up with good judgement.  As Amanda and I filled out the application for the Wisdom Award, so many truths were brought to light.  I've highlighted only a few of the many things we learned during the process.

Iterate Until It Hurts.  Occasionally, you can write something and it comes out fully-formed, as intended and perfect.  But so often, the first draft is only a hazy glimpse of the brilliant idea.  It does take several iterations of the same concept to really get to the meat of what you are trying to say, just like my College Prep Comp teacher lectured in high school.  However, going over the same bit of text 97 times may be a bit insane.  And two perfectionists working together equals many, many, many iterations.  The end result is something that we are very happy with, and have used bits of each piece already for other purposes.

Collaboration Makes It Better.  I am guilty of not sharing responsibility.  I don’t share because I like things done a certain way, or because I just don’t trust anyone else to get it done properly.  I like control, or the illusion of it anyway.  In this award application process I have learned to let go just a little bit.  It’s the collaboration of ideas and styles that allow the message to reach a much wider audience, appeal to a larger group, and resonate with the people necessary to take DohJe to the next level.  Working with an equally stubborn soul has shaped our vision, our mission, and our daily practices in a dramatic and positive way.  Instead of accepting compromise, we strived for unanimous approval and wrote pieces that contain the best of our ideas without any dilution.

Writing is Writing.  Composing these descriptions and goals for the Wisdom Award has been like writing a song that fits with a particular message.  Sometimes you have to dig deep to find the passion, but once it’s found, the process is the same.  Writing the song or writing the battle plan or writing an award application is an oscillation between creative and concrete thinking.  And again, compromise does not work here.  The best writing happens when the entire group is on-board and ready to rock.  Good thing Amanda and I were in a band together.

Working Remotely Makes It Work.  Some of you already know the benefits of working from home, of telecommuting, of conference calls across the country and around the world.  But this world is completely new to me.  Prior to DohJe, I had always been physically present to do my job.  Technology has allowed my friend and I to work on a document simultaneously, all while chatting and arguing and posturing.  There was no lag-time between the thought written down and the edits that came after.  Back and forth, back and forth, until the words on the screen suited both of our wills.  Thanks, technology.  We literally could not have done it without you.

So what’s the takeaway here?  Going through a difficult process almost always proves to be a worthwhile activity.  Even if we don’t win this award, the experience has been beneficial, and we now know ourselves and our goals so much the better.  I challenge each startup crew, entrepreneur, idealist, and inventor to go through the process of applying for an award or grant, and see for themselves how much better they become.  It may be subtle, it may be dramatic, but it will be different and it will be better on the other side.

Monday, May 6, 2013

DohJe: Just In Time for Nurses Week

You may notice a lot going on in the first couple of weeks in May.  Not only do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, but these first weeks are also highlighted for our friends and neighbors in the healthcare industry.  National Nurses Week and Hospital Week help focus our attention on these individuals and institutions that are so important to our communities.  Most of us don’t need to be reminded, but plenty of us do forget to say “Thank You”.  These amazing people care for us through some of the most significant events in our lives, and now we have an easy way to show our gratitude to them.  

Meet DohJe.

Imagine you are about to become a parent.  You’ve done the research.  You think you know what to expect.  And then miraculously, brilliantly, your anticipated stranger arrives.  Everything you planned for fades into the background and that tiny human is now the star of the show.  Household chores and important correspondence alike are gently replaced with hope, swaddled tightly in good intentions.

Now imagine you are waking up in an unfamiliar room with bright lights, strange sounds, and a scent of something you almost remember.  Oh yeah, that’s what clean and fear and necessity smell like.  You were in an accident, and there’s a person above you holding your hand and asking how you’re feeling now.  A halo is above this man’s head, and you suddenly feel the urge to embrace him and name your firstborn after him.  After several weeks in the hospital, then a couple of months at home, you are back to normal, but there’s this nagging thought that you can’t quite identify.

Unexpressed gratitude.  That’s the common thread in these examples and probably in your life, too.  Crazy, tragic, significant events occur, and we feel so thankful to the people that help us through them.  Sometimes, you don’t realize how important it is to say “Thank You” until weeks or months or years pass.  Sometimes, you’re ready right away to share this gratitude, but can’t find the deserving recipient!  This is the reason that we’ve created DohJe.  Now we all have a tool to help find these amazing caregivers and thank them.