The Medical Alley Podcast, presented by MentorMate

A Conversation with Jaclyn and Andrew Wainwright, AiRCare Health

Episode Summary

Join us for a conversation with Frank Jaskulke and two leaders from AiRCare Health (and a husband and wife duo), Jaclyn and Andrew Wainwright. Andrew is the Founder and Chief Growth Officer of AiRCare Health, and Jaclyn is the company's CEO. The duo joins to talk about the important work AiRCare does for mental health: by taking a proactive approach to get the help to people who need it. Only 1 in 12 people who need help with their mental or behavioral health will actually seek it out, and AiRCare tries to reach those other 11. In fact, Jaclyn and Andrew even started a podcast called "The Other 11," which they discuss with us on the Medical Alley Podacst.

Episode Transcription

Intro (00:00):
The Medical Alley Podcast is brought to you by MentorMate. For over 20 years, the healthcare industry's largest companies have trusted MentorMate to guide their vision while designing and developing innovative digital products. Whether you're powering a medical device, overhauling your backend architecture, or reimagining your patient experience, MentorMate can help. The global team takes a personalized and in-depth approach to deliver secure solutions in all sectors of healthcare. With deep expertise in design, development, cloud, and software support, MentorMate helps healthcare clients administer state-of-the-art care through technology. Trusted guidance, global expertise, secure integration. Mentormate delivers digital transformation at scale. Learn more at mentormate.com.

Frank Jaskulke (00:46):
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening to everyone out there in Medical Alley. Thank you for joining us. On another episode of the Medical Alley podcast. I have a really, really fabulous group here today. One of our member organizations, AiRCare, and two of their leaders Jaclyn and Andrew Wainwright. And we're gonna have what I think is one of the more important and interesting conversations I'll get to be a part of this year. And so I'm so glad you're able to join us for it as we get started. The first thing I'll ask, Jaclyn, Andrew, could you maybe introduce yourselves and then tell us a little bit about AiRCare.

Jaclyn Wainwright (01:24):
Thank you for having us. We're honored to be here. I'm Jaclyn Wainwright and I'm the CEO of AiRCare Health.

Andrew Wainwright (01:30):
Frank, hey, thanks for having us on. My name is Andrew Wainwright and I'm the founder of AiRCare Health and just contextually that's from 2002.

Frank Jaskulke (01:39):
Oh, wow. That's pretty darn good. 2002. So yeah, now coming up on 20 years.

Andrew Wainwright (01:45):
20 years.

Jaclyn Wainwright (01:46):
20 years in May, actually.

Frank Jaskulke (01:48):
Okay. Ah, very cool. That'll be fun. I think when this will be coming out, it'll be 20 years. So congratulations.

Andrew Wainwright (01:55):
Thanks. And you know any success we've had, Frank and, you know, from the day we joined Medical Alley moving forward all comes from our CEO. So, you know, it's having the right CEO in the position gives you the right success.

Frank Jaskulke (02:08):
Indeed. Indeed. Good leadership matters.

Jaclyn Wainwright (02:11):
Spoken like a true husband.

Frank Jaskulke (02:13):
Yeah. Full disclosure to the audience. We have a couple here that are leading the company. And maybe we'll talk about that, maybe we won't. But the first thing, maybe Jaclyn, tell us a little bit about the business today? And then Andrew, I might ask you as a follow up, how did it get going? And how's the business evolved over that 20 years?

Andrew Wainwright (02:34):
No, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Jaclyn Wainwright (02:36):
He asked me first.

Andrew Wainwright (02:37):
Yes he did.

Jaclyn Wainwright (02:38):
So we are in the business of making help available to people who need it when they need it. And what that means is we reach out proactively to people that may be struggling and we offer help in a way that's easy to accept. The reason that we do that is because behavioral health, people that struggle with behavioral health problems, whether it's stress or substance use disorder or depression, often don't know how to ask for help, or they don't have the mechanism to raise their hand and ask for help or they're ashamed or scared or afraid, or it's a symptom of the disease that they have, care avoidance. And so we make that barrier overcomeable by proactively reaching out to people and offering the type of help they may need to get better. So it's a proactive approach to mental and emotional healthcare.

Frank Jaskulke (03:30):
Yeah. We know that stigma is still such an issue and I wanna talk more about that, how unique what you're doing is to be proactive. But before that, Andrew could you maybe lay out, how did this get started?

Andrew Wainwright (03:42):
Yeah, Frank, happy to tell you how it got started. And it's relatively simple. Back in 2002 when we began the shop, I worked for an individual who'd hired me a few years before and he was in the business of helping families and he brought me along and he said, this is what we do, families call us. And we create solutions for them, you know, around whatever behavioral health issues they may have. And he passed away rather quickly. And he left me, in effect, this business. So I didn't go to college to grow up to be this guy, to be in this business. I think my mother is still confounded that I work in a business capacity of any kind that makes even a dollar. But the reality is that he pointed out to me very clearly that in the behavioral healthcare world that we live in today and in the healthcare space, it's tough to get help.

Andrew Wainwright (04:30):
It's tough to navigate the system. And as Jackie pointed out, it's tough to raise your hand and even ask for help. So our position from day one was about making that easier, helping folks navigate a really tricky conversation due to, you know, things you're talking about, like stigma and shame that surrounds whether I eat too much, I eat too little, I drink too much, you know, I do too much or too little of something else. And so from 2002, probably through 2010, that's what we did. We helped families one at a time. They would call us and say, we have a problem, either here in the United States or somewhere around the world, and we can't come up with a solution on our own, can you help us? And so we defined our place sort of as the the dirt path that goes through the woods where the lights from the highway aren't shining anymore. And we said, we will take any call from anybody, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And that's what we built the premise on is that it's hard to get help in behavioral health. And we had some shortcuts and we knew a thing or two about getting people help. And we dedicated ourselves to making sure that more help could be available to more people.

Frank Jaskulke (05:33):
Oh, that's very cool. And you know, something I can remember from the first time the three of us had met and telling the story of what you had been doing and a reaction I had to it was, you first figured out how to care for people, how to get the great outcomes and then built technology around that to augment and accelerate the work. And so, Jaclyn, I wonder if you could talk about that evolution as a technology company in a field that, you know, so often is still very much about individual care and helping one family or one person at a time. You've been able to use technology to do that, but at a much greater scale.

Jaclyn Wainwright (06:17):
Yeah. That's a great question and a really great point that you make about the technology, because really we were born out of this need that families and individuals had, and it's what we fell in love with. It's what I fell in love with, helping people put together a solution that they had been unable to find on their own, right? To put their family back together in a lot of cases. And so it's a very human service. It's a very individual support that is necessary. But what we were finding is that people had to get really sick or had to lose a lot before they would find their way to us. And so one of the things we kept asked ourselves is how can we prevent the suffering, right? How can we use the tools available to us and what we have learned in helping individuals and families to stop that length of suffering and cut the cycle, right? Cut it in half. The average time that passes from first onset of symptoms until somebody seeks treatment is about 11 years.

Jaclyn Wainwright (07:22):
That's the median lag between onset and treatment. And so that's a really long time, right? For someone to struggle. And so we just kept looking at the data that was available to us and knowing that care is so personal and that help on a path like this is really a lot of handhold, a lot of resource, a lot of support at all kinds of hours, we knew the human had to be the center of the service, right. And so it was about how do we use data? How do we use technology to make that human service really the only thing our people get to deliver. So all I have to do is show up and be present for the person on the other end of the phone or the other side of the video and listen and make space. And the rest is done for me, right? That's the beauty of the technology. So elevating that human empathy and the caregiving element of what we do and leveraging the technology to make that possible at scale.

Frank Jaskulke (08:21):
Oh, wow. Something we've, we've all talked about quite a bit, the last two, two and a half years now of the pandemic, there's been this huge, huge onslaught of behavioral health and mental health needs. And we hear from companies all the time that their workforce is impacted, their families are impacted and that the behavioral health, the mental health workforce itself has been impacted. I'm curious, you all see this every day. You're working in it and with it. What's been the pandemic's impact on the, the people you serve and on the business that you all run?

Jaclyn Wainwright (08:57):
Well, just for some context, prior to the pandemic, the World Health Organization estimated that in the United States, behavioral health disorders caused the greatest burden of disease, greater than any other single health category. So just to put into context, so it's not a new problem, right? But COVID-19 has heightened the risk factors generally associated with poor mental health. So financial insecurity, unemployment, fear, protective factors, social connection, access to education engagement, daily exercise. Those things fell dramatically. So this has led a sort of a significant and unprecedented worsening of the population's mental health due to stress and all the factors that, you know, I just sort of listed. So really, we see that in all the populations, but what we've seen is sort of when it happens over a period of time, that continued exposure to that stress, you almost become immune, or you think you're immune to it, right?

Jaclyn Wainwright (09:59):
So you become less able to recognize in yourself than others the fact that you're struggling. And we see that in every population and our own included. So you really have to be intentional about building in the time during the day to make sure you're taking care of yourself. And we talk that with our work force and the populations we serve. But it's about adapting and making the time to take care of your own mental health set boundaries so that you don't become, you know, just overexposed to all of the factors that are, you know, keeping you down.

Frank Jaskulke (10:33):
Yeah. And Andrew, I'd be curious, you've seen in this 20 year arc, as it's built up and in this rapid pace the last couple of years, how is the broader, I don't know if the I'd call it industry, but just the broader way we think about or care for people that are going through mental behavioral health issues, how has that evolved and has the pandemic accelerated the way we respond to it or the need to respond to it, or are we still kind of moving along at that same pace?

Andrew Wainwright (11:02):
Well, I'll tell you, Frank, I think from my worldview, trying to be the glass half full, not the glass half empty, I think the pandemic's been wonderful for the behavioral healthcare space. So in the middle of the pandemic, you know, when we see videos of the folks in Italy, right, where they're leaning out their windows singing, and everyone really was bottled up, and we are distant right from our families and our workplace, and we're home with very few, you know, emotional human contact, and it was just tough times for everybody. On some level, I felt that it was very sort of lovely and egalitarian that everybody around the globe was going through the same stressors. Right? So for the first time, the rich, the poor, the people who lived in cold environment, warm, you know, we're all, we're all the same.

Andrew Wainwright (11:46):
And I think it was out of that sameness and this common cause of we all are either sick together or trying to stay well together or trying to find a way to the end of the pandemic together that unified us, I think in a, in a very human way to allow us to discuss behavioral health and have it be accessible as more of a common topic among us, which has been lovely for me. So, whereas 15 years ago, to Jackie's point, we waited a long time for people to either crash in the emergency room or self declare in some, you know, explosion of a thousand suns sort of way, which was never great, right? We wouldn't do that for, you know, other forms of physical health. And I think in behavioral health, we don't wanna do that, but we didn't have a better way to access it these days, post pandemic, or, you know, here we are at the tail end of the pandemic.

Andrew Wainwright (12:35):
I think that people feel very okay with raising their hand and saying, I am stressed. I'm tired, I'm exhausted. I'm nervous. I'm frightened, I'm alone. I, you know, any one of a thousand words to describe feelings that say, I'm, ill at ease in my skin, right? My behavioral health is not, it's not smooth. And I think that's where we've all from my side are looking for. We're looking for the window in, and you know, 20 years ago, the window in came late and it was small. So these days, if you give us a big brightly lit window early in the continuum of the illness, it's just a wonderful opportunity.

Frank Jaskulke (13:09):
Oh, very well said. And I appreciate that sense of, yeah, we were all, all connected. We were all going through the same thing and the egalitarian nature of that we've talked as a society for so long, or at least the last 10, 20 years about division and divisiveness and how different we are from each other. And finally, we were all kind of in the same boat. I'd not thought of it that way, that even think about my own life and experiences, it's made it easier because we've all been through it. It no longer or less feels like it's something that happens to someone else.

Jaclyn Wainwright (13:45):
That's so key what you said. I mean, something that happens to someone else, right? Isn't that always the distance between us and the treatment, right? It's it's that we can't conceptualize that it's us. It's me. But now I think seeing it in others and seeing it be talked about more, it reduces that burden. It doesn't mean that the number of people that are able to overcome that care avoidance or that inability to reach out gets smaller, but it certainly means that the people around them are more able to say, Hey, maybe you're struggling or, you know, recognize that in one another.

Frank Jaskulke (14:22):
Right? Yeah. It puts us on a better path. And I also like that that's a way of finding something good and positive and graceful out of this last two and a half years of otherwise not so great things.

Jaclyn Wainwright (14:36):
I would go further and say that I think it's absolutely been what, it's our mental health moment, right? I mean, for us, it's been for so long, not the focus, right. Mental health has always been this other thing that maybe isn't appropriate to talk about at work. And the pandemic has made it not only appropriate, but necessary to have that conversation, necessary to show up and be a human, right? Because the lines are blurred and you may be sitting in your living room on a work call and your kids are coming in or your dog. I mean, it just makes us so human. And so it's hard not to recognize it. And in that humanity and in that, you know, vulnerability, we're forced to see one another, right? And we're forced to hear one another and then relate in a way that I don't know if we would've gotten there, honestly, without some type of event like we've all been through

Frank Jaskulke (15:29):
Indeed.

Andrew Wainwright (15:29):
Well, I just wanna jump or feed off of what Jackie had to say. I think so much of, at least American culture, Western culture is based on this idea of sort of difference, right. That we're on our way somewhere, you know, and I'll make fun of Frank for a second. And I'll say that Frank stream is, you know, to have a beautiful white suit and a white Ferrari and his beautiful white house and a white piano and his white, you know, some fantasy of what it's like to have succeeded, right, to have ascended to the top. And it's nonsensical, right? And if you think about it, it's also bland. And the color comes in, I think to our world, from the broken places, right. The juice is when I tell you about the things that are wrong with me, when I tell you about, you know, the things that happened in my childhood that made me a little, you know, wonky, and, you know, when I got kicked to high school or this happened after this, and, you know when I was afraid of this or why, you know, so and so doesn't like alligators, you know, that's the stuff that's lovely and interesting.

Andrew Wainwright (16:20):
Nobody likes the smartest kid in class. Nobody likes, you know, Frank when he's in his white palace. That's not interesting. Right. And I think there's so much humanity in our shared stories of behavioral health struggles, like who among us has not been afraid? Who among us hasn't been afraid of the dark or felt lonely or disconnected? And so I also think when we talk about behavioral health, many times, we think about the far end of the spectrum. So Andrew Wainwright is super duper alcoholic and he crashed his car to a tree or, you know, the psychiatric order or super scary stuff, but that's certainly there. And there's a place to discuss that. I think when we talk about behavioral health in relation to our world and the pandemic and us, right, the other 11, I think we're talking about the humanity of all of us that don't want to go to work today, or I don't wanna walk the dog or I'm so, you know, just the day to day grind is hard, and admitting that is very human.

Frank Jaskulke (17:15):
Yeah. Well, and you just mentioned the other 11, and that might be a great segue. And to talk a bit about that, a little bit of a meta conversation, on a podcast to talk a little bit about a podcast, but what you guys are doing is pretty darn interesting. So maybe, could you tell us a bit about what, what is "The Other 11?," and where'd the name come from?

Jaclyn Wainwright (17:37):
So "The Other 11" is our podcast. Andrew and myself started a podcast. We were gonna write a book. We figured maybe, maybe somebody would think what we had gone through was interesting as running a business together, living together having a love for this particular area of healthcare that maybe we had something to say. And really I'm thinking we had a comedy to write, but, you know, it turned out that our fabulous senior VP of communications was interested in doing a podcast. And we said, great, we're all in, let's do that. And really the point of the podcast was not to talk about all the things wrong with the world, all the problems that are out there and all the struggles. The idea was to talk about not the 1 in 12 people that will raise their hand and ask for help, but the other 11, the people that we are set up to serve the ones that we're really in existence because of. And so if we can talk about the obstacles, the things that stand between us and getting to those other 11, or turning that 11 into five, maybe we can move the needle forward.

Frank Jaskulke (18:52):
Yeah. Okay, so you've got a business to run though. So why do a podcast? Why take the time when I suspect you're already quite busy to do that? Does it align with what AiRCare is trying to accomplish?

Andrew Wainwright (19:07):
Well, here's what I think. I think that something are important to say out loud, right? Some things are just true. And I think that we've been working hard at this shop, helping families onesy twosy, and then larger groups for a long period of time. And effectively, as we retrospectively look back saying the same things and this opportunity to have a platform to try and get the simple things that we know out to a larger audience we thought was worthwhile. So an easy example is the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but in behavioral health, typically it's a long squiggly squirrel of, you know, poor decisions, missed opportunities and wasted days, months, and years before you get to hopefully where you're going, thus the, you know, 11 years before onset of the disease or diagnosis.

Andrew Wainwright (19:55):
And we said, gosh, if there was any way we could shorten that, right, could we make the journey shorter for anybody if we could cut a day or a week off of anybody's journey. And any of the things that we talk about help them self realize or recognize that their friend or family member is struggling and was willing to have a conversation sooner rather than later, then that was probably worthwhile. So I think it was just that, that some of the conversations we have are so vital and they've waited so long to happen, that we have become impatient. So there is a strong vein of impatience that runs through AiRCare generally. And it's impatience with the disease of bay health and the treatment modalities that exist today that depend upon folks raising their hands to ask for help, that in the same manner that we proactively outreach to folks, we are proactively putting this message out into the world, through the podcast

Frank Jaskulke (20:46):
Right on. That makes a ton of sense. Oh please. Yeah.

Jaclyn Wainwright (20:49):
I was just gonna say, I love we are, if one thing only, really impatient. It's just not okay with us, right? It's not okay that there are solutions that behavioral health problems are a hundred percent solvable, right? I mean the right person, the right treatment plan, the right professional at the right time, and you can live a totally different life. So it's not okay with me that there are people out there suffering in silence that don't get the opportunity to have that have that moment. And if there's anything that stands in the way of that, then I can't go another day without saying it out loud. I mean, we're just sick of waiting. We're sick of watching so many people have an answer or so many businesses understand that what they're trying isn't working, but do it anyway. This is just not okay. We only have so many days, right? We only have so much time on this planet. And I think Andrew and I both believe that not a day should be wasted.

Andrew Wainwright (21:54):
I think Frank, if we have the knowledge that help is available and the tools with which to apply that help, then I would put it out to you that we have a moral responsibility to make use of that.

Frank Jaskulke (22:06):
Right on. And over the years, as you know, we do a lot of work with medical device companies, and there's a number of 'em where there are MDs that have started and run the company, and to a T when I talk to 'em, they go through this kind of the same thing you've both described of they were able to help one person at a time and they wanted to have a bigger impact because they knew how big the problem was. What you just described was a new way or another way of extending that impact and helping more people more quickly satisfy the impatience, but also help take care of people in a better way. So I really appreciate you sharing that. And something we've noticed is, you know, you guys share a lot on the podcast, potentially even overshare at times. Is that intentional as you're telling the stories? Where does it come from that it's that open in the dialogue?

Jaclyn Wainwright (23:02):
We're unapologetically us, right? I mean, your story is your leadership story, right? Your life story is your leadership story. And we can't lead if people don't know who we are and how we got here, and we certainly can't expect others to follow. So I think whether that's oversharing or it's uncovering the darkness that stands between us and the light, then I guess that's what we're doing because it has to be done.

Andrew Wainwright (23:30):
I think, you know, my story, Frank, speaking, you know, for Andrew Wainwright, it's the most important thing I own. It's the one thing that is uniquely curated and is mine, you know, all 52 years of it. And it's honest and it's visceral and it's true. And it's beautiful and it's bloody, and it's all of these different things. You know, it's anything we would read a novel for, see a long movie for. It's, you know, it's the whole arc is contained in each of us, right. Each of our stories. And if I changed that for you and I took the rough edges off and I smartened up the parts that didn't look so good, then is isn't an interesting story. But if I really tell you the gory stuff, and I'm unafraid that, right, I'm willing to put it out there and lead in, you know, if you and I are trying to make friends and I'm leading with the parts that are really broken about me hopefully I'm opening a window for you to share with me as well.

Andrew Wainwright (24:19):
And we can more quickly ascend to you know, a friendship and a place where we understand each other on a more visceral, honest level, rather than Frank, I really love your white piano and, you know, and that kind of nonsense, you know. It's easy to live in that space, right. To talk about each other's accolades and where do you get your haircut? And, you know, just the nonsense of the day to day, it's a whole different thing to be travelers together.

Frank Jaskulke (24:44):
Indeed. And I gotta say, I really appreciate both of you telling that kind of story. Because I think about the work Medical Alley is in is culture change. And to me, culture is the actions we take, right? Like what we do is the culture and both of you are, are modeling or showing in your stories, in your leadership, the way things could be and should be, and hopefully making it easier than for others, whether they're your coworkers, whether they're your clients or whether they're podcast listeners to take that step themselves because they see it can be done. And it is okay. I'll close with one very practical question because we get asked this a lot and I'm always curious about it is just how do you go about picking topics for it, figuring out what you want to talk about when you come to the next podcast or the next podcast?

Jaclyn Wainwright (25:37):
I wish we had a good answer for that. We really don't. I mean really we were just having a conversation about this Tuesday, what's next. And we ended the meeting cuz we all couldn't agree. It was like, I wanna talk about this. And we all said, we step back, we've got so many things to talk about, right? 20 years worth of things that have been uncovered or truth to power type statements and just information that has to be shared. It's a matter of who gets to go first, right? Who, who, who believes this thing should be talked about over some other thing, but it's also about what people need, right? And I think with all the changes going on in the world and we try and just listen and give the people what we think they need when they need it. But Andrew may have a better answer than that.

Andrew Wainwright (26:33):
I don't know if I have a better answer. I have a different answer. And I'll tell you this, Frank. So just like if we were F. Scott Fitzgerald, we need a Maxwell Perkins, right? Everybody needs an editor. You know, it's one thing to write a bunch of stuff down on a piece of paper. It's another to get it published in the bookstores., And our method, you know good or bad, so far has been that we show up in the studio and we talk for a long time and we range around a wonderful group of subjects. And then we turn it over to in effect the person that's gonna manage and edit it and produce the podcast. And you know, that may be Tyler for you or you and Frank, you may be the person who does it. But my experience is, and I had this last week when I listened to episode three, they asked me to listen to it before we posted it.

Andrew Wainwright (27:14):
And I came back and he said, well, what are your notes? And I said, well, I was really interested to listen to this because I'd never heard it before. And he goes, what do you mean? I go, I remember nothing about this conversation. I was riveted to hear what the young man had to say next. And so, you know, there's this thing about just letting yourself go and talking and then having somebody else cull through the madness and piece apart what's worthwhile because you know, on some days I can't tell you whether I'm wearing a purple shirt, whether this is appropriate or not, right? I need somebody else to weigh in and tell me you're dressed wrongly for the cocktail party. And in the same way, it's been super helpful for us to have someone navigate for us our own language because I'm not always the best arbiter of what the right thing is to put out in the world. I know that some of this is useful, but having somebody that's not me to parse it and put it together as a podcast, I think that's where the magic has happened for us.

Frank Jaskulke (28:07):
Yeah. Shout out to Tyler, the producer for the Medical Alley Podcast, having a good editor, someone who can reflect on what you've said or written or done is just so helpful for all of us. For those who might want to go and find it, where can we point 'em to like in the show notes to and find "The Other 11" podcast?

Jaclyn Wainwright (28:30):
www.othereleven.com.

Frank Jaskulke (28:30):
Perfect. Well, I think that's a great place to wrap it up. This was, just like I thought it was gonna be, a fun and fascinating conversation. So Jaclyn, Andrew, thank you so much for spending a little bit of time with us. Thank you for doing the work that you do to make the community and the world a better place. And thank you for being members.

Andrew Wainwright (28:49):
Thanks Frank. Thanks for having us. This was wonderful.

Frank Jaskulke (28:51):
And folks that was the Medical Alley Podcast. Make sure to subscribe. If you're not already a subscriber, you can find us at medicalalleypodcast.org, on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever else you download your podcasts from.