Oct. 15, 2022

Fungai Ndemera - entrepreneur and keynote speaker focused on diversity in healthcare

This week on the Life Science Podcast I am interviewing Fungai Ndemera.  Fungai is the CEO of Checkup Health.  Fungai and I are going to talk about her journey to becoming the CEO, Diversity and we are going to cover her focus as a Keynote...


This week on the Life Science Podcast I am interviewing Fungai Ndemera.  Fungai is the CEO of Checkup Health.  Fungai and I are going to talk about her journey to becoming the CEO, Diversity and we are going to cover her focus as a Keynote speaker.  

 

00:58  Introduction for Fungai and greeting

01:18  Telling to listeners a bit about yourself

02:07  Lead you to Create Check Up Health company

04:52  More about Check Up Health company function and how it helps

08:04  How it works with populations get involved and limiting biases

10:26  How targeted populations shift and leverage technology, considering diversity

12:37  About being panelist and discussion with the Melan and medic panel

15:55  One of the Social Media posts thought provoking question

  • What are the best ways that a business could reduce health inequalities?

20:23 What oftentimes do you speak about as a Keynote speaker, whenever on stage?

22:02 Three Question

 -What Inspires you?

 -What concerns you? 

 -What excites you?



Please check out our Life Science Success Resources.  You will find tools that will support growing companies and books for authors I have interviewed.  

Transcript

Fungai Ndemera

[00:00:00] 

 

[00:00:28] Don Davis PhD, MBA: welcome to life science success podcast. My name is Don. And for those of you who don't know me, I'm a consultant in life sciences. And I focus on helping companies reduce complexity and increased performance today my guest on the podcast is fungi and Damara. Fungi is the CEO of checkup, health fungi, and I are going to talk about her journey to becoming a C as CEO. Diversity. And we're also going to cover her focus as a keynote speaker.

Welcome fungi. 

[00:00:58] Fungai Ndemera: Thank you for having me [00:01:00] Dawn having, I hope you're having a good time. We are having the best heat here in the UK. So 

[00:01:07] Don Davis PhD, MBA: yeah, it's pretty hot. It seems like everywhere. So hopefully everybody understands loving global warming is real. So can you tell the listeners just a little bit about yourself?

[00:01:18] Fungai Ndemera: Thank you Don. So I am Vander, a founder of checkup health, and it's been a journey. I am on a path to creating healthcare digital and making healthcare accessible to all. And it's, I've been an entrepreneur for the last 20 years and I've been in healthcare since day one. I am a nest by profession, by the way.

Yeah it's an interesting lifestyle. 

[00:01:43] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, for sure. And just what is it that led you from, where you started overall? I believe you said before, whenever we talked previously that that you were a nurse previously, and then, [00:02:00] now you're the CEO of checkup health.

So what led you to creating. Check up health. 

[00:02:07] Fungai Ndemera: Yeah. So life is amazing, right? And I, and life takes us on a path. And for me that experience of being a nurse and then having to come to the UK and work as a nurse, I only worked as a year and then got here and started the healthcare recruitment business.

But it was, I think the key issue was in 2004, when my father in my father-in-law passed away a weekend a week. From undiagnosed diabetes. And they were both known hypertensive patients that planted a seed. And I think when I look back, that's really, when that thing was stir in my heart to say, somebody has gotta do something.

And it's taken me many years from 2004 to just before the COVID, when we were just about to launch the digital healthcare platform when COVID happened. But so I believe. Life experiences. They take us on a journey and I think it's really important for us to look [00:03:00] and search for what is it that I need to learn from these experiences as difficult as they are, but what do I need to be doing?

And I think for me, That's ushered me to what I do now, connecting with dots of different things that have happened along the way, but really the beginning was then I think, and now I can realize that, oh my gosh, this is what all this was leading me to, to be building a platform. That's a OneStop AI driven care delivery platform that comes with iOS and unre apps.

And then it comes with a clinician dashboard that. Clinicians to offer healthcare digitally from wherever they, they are across the globe and thinking that would it have been my dad and father-in-law alive today, maybe could their life lives have been saved if there was a solution that could allow them to be reached in real time and be supported straight away without having to leave their houses and go to the hospital, so I think, yeah, life leads us to what we are supposed to be [00:04:00] doing, but I think we need to be listening to, to, to what's been communicated through our experiences. 

[00:04:06] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, I feel like that's been a rather consistent message that I've been hearing more and more lately. I don't know if it's just because I wasn't listening before or if it's just the time in my life, but I feel like there's there.

That it's almost like we're led onto a path and it's so yeah, strange to look back and say this happened then that kind of sparked my interest in terms of, wanting to work in a particular area. Glad that, led you there. Can you tell us more specifically, what is it that checkup health does and how does it, help patients get connected overall.

Yeah. 

[00:04:52] Fungai Ndemera: So I think digital health has been something that has been coming our way. And I think in the UK, we have got the [00:05:00] first movers, which are our baby loans and our push doctors platforms that allow patients to download an app or access. Look for an appointment to look for a doctor who can then look after you when you've got a need to be sent.

But what we've done with checkup health is that we have built it from a place of, okay, all these options are available. But what is it exactly that's available that speaks to me as a black woman or as a black person who needs healthcare? You realize that in the UK currently COVID 19 exposed. They already preexisting health inequalities that are available, that are around, which were never a conversation to speak about before COVID.

But when COVID happened, we realized that, okay, we've got these existing health inequalities, and part of the issues is that. The solutions or the healthcare that's out. They it seems as if it's for other people, but it's never for me, if that makes sense, so you don't feel included, [00:06:00] you don't feel included or you're part of the ecosystem or you're part of the solutions because they never really speak to you as a person in terms of the way they are designed in terms of where they feel in terms of languages that they, that, that are available for me to access those things.

So you find that as we are going digital, I have made a decision that I am going to be part of the people who are going to be providing solutions that are culturally competent and linguistically competent. What do we mean by that? Checkup health. An app that patients can download to look for a doctor or to look for healthcare services, but actually it's multilingual.

So it's taking into consideration other people that may not necessarily be English speaking, people who could have felt excluded by other things that are available. That's number one. And then number two. They also feel that's relevant to me. If I can read and look at it in my language, I can express myself better, or I can also access people who are, look like me, who are going to understand my [00:07:00] cultural needs when I look to be seen by a doctor.

So there are a lot of things that, we don't take into consideration when we are going digital. And I am deeply concerned that if we don't pay attention to those. the health inequalities that already exist in the physical. We are literally just carrying them along with us. And those inequalities are going to widen.

So check up health is coming to say, okay, as we are going digital, this is a platform that is going to open the door and be a space through which other people who need to access services can also be accessing those services in a way that they feel they're included basically. 

[00:07:40] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And so to overcome the biases, I'm not very, versed in terms of, how this happens, but do you have to involve those populations then to understand, how things work and how they interpret things?

Is that how overcome, [00:08:00] any biases that might be built in just curious. 

[00:08:04] Fungai Ndemera: Absolutely. Yeah. So absolutely. Engaging the patient group or the population group that you are saying you are bringing a solution to is part of the design process and consulting them and giving them to say, okay, this is what we are thinking of bringing to the market.

We are thinking of having an app. That's gonna help you remotely monitor your health, your blood pressure or your diabetes. So we want you to help us design. That's how we've been doing it. So we have got teams of nurses and doctors, where we have opened the center in Zimbabwe, where we have patients, patient groups that are diabetic and hypertensive, and we consult them and we understand them to say, tell us, how do you want us to do it?

And then similar, we've done in the UK when the COVID 19 hit we applied for funding to innovate UK and we run [00:09:00] a visibility. That included a patient group to say, okay, we are saying, we can support you during COVID 19 to reduce the pressures of you wanting to look for an appointment to a GP. Can we give you devices?

And when we give you devices, can you actually use them? Do you think you can actually use them? And so those kind of projects and studies are informing our technology depart development journey so that we are making sure that the apps and the solutions are appropriate to that popul. 

Very interesting.

[00:09:32] Don Davis PhD, MBA: I know technology acceptance was a big part of my PhD as well. It was, the main thing that I focused in on was, how do you get, how do you get populations to shift and leverage technology? And to me, it brings me back a little bit in terms of, my, my thesis and, the final, outcome, being, how do you shift.

Or get P [00:10:00] populations that, find one, one method or another, easier and now you're saying, you're also considering the diversity. So a lot more complex than even I had, considered in, in my studies. But for sure, an interesting, project and an interesting company overall that that you guys are working on, you also were yeah.

In. 

[00:10:26] Fungai Ndemera: And I was gonna, I was gonna add as well, that on that tone, I was gonna add as well, a layer that, it's things that we don't think about every day. So another example I can give you is that, we are introducing AI elements to the way our technology and our apps and our systems for clinicians interact with the patients.

For example, for decision making, for supporting them, take a certain action when a certain result is recorded in the system. And so you will find. There is actually concerns [00:11:00] that AI could be biased. If again, we do not consider certain responses that can be responding to one query or one situation.

But if you took 2, 3, 4, 5 different people from different demographics and different route and different, their answers are not going to be the same. So how are we thinking around making AI not bias? So for me that those are the things that interest me, because if we don't address them, we are carrying the legacy of problems that we have now into the digital and people who are already excluded are gonna continue to be excluded.

[00:11:37] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Yeah. And it was it. I know I received this question as well on a panel discussion that I was on, how do you prevent, AI bias, and that, you could say that, you train with diverse populations of data. You train the AI using diverse populations of data.

[00:12:00] And with that, okay, fine. You might actually overcome some of this, but in reality, you really need to be looking for the bias and then also, making sure that you're countering it as well, other than otherwise, for sure you are doomed to repeat the previous bias that was already included.

So yeah, 

[00:12:21] Fungai Ndemera: absolutely. Yeah. 

[00:12:25] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And you were on a panel discussion with the Melan and medic panel. Can you tell us a little bit about what you were discussing there? As a panelist? Absolutely. 

[00:12:37] Fungai Ndemera: So Melan and medics is is a non-profit non, not for profit organization being run by young, amazing black medical practitioners.

And for me, that's really another area where I felt that I could contribute. Like we are talking about the shortages in medical practitioners right now across the globe. And we have got the young [00:13:00] population saying, okay, yes, we wanna become doctors, but how our role is to support them, to help them understand that we need them in the digital space.

Good example of what we've just discussed around the AI and we need their contribution and we need them at the table, especially in the tech companies that we are running. You need more practitioners. Different ethnic minorities to be contributing at your, to your design stage, to your delivery stage.

And so my role on the panel was to bring awareness that, D becoming a doctor now doesn't necessarily only mean that you have to be a bedside Patient managing doctor, right? We need you on online. We need you in technology. We now need you everywhere. So your job has extended rather just from being a doctor that thinks about waking up in the morning, stereoscope and going to see a patient on the bedside, but we need you to contribute on how we are gonna.

Deliver [00:14:00] healthcare digitally. And what role you as junior doctors or as doctors you are going to play. And especially as Melan in doctors, because we don't have enough of you. I was looking at the stats in the UK. We only about only have about 4% is the number of black practitioners that are coming into the system as black practitioners yet we need more, so yeah, it's interest.

[00:14:26] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Otherwise, I, I think back to your previous comments, right? I, otherwise you risk, continued, bias potentially and just maybe not an approach that considers some of the things that could be going on. I every population seems to have different things that could happen with that population of people.

And if you have only medical practitioners that are. , I don't know, white or Asian, or, of one particular race, then you could certainly, shift or skew things [00:15:00] in a way that, that it doesn't provide for an open mind in terms of care for those patients and the things that should be considered.

Absolutely. Yeah. And so one of the things that I absolutely admire. With you, is it for anybody that looks you up on LinkedIn? You have a fantastic social media team or, you're doing some great work in social media, one of the two. And whenever I look at your LinkedIn page, they're oftentimes like picture pictures of you posted.

With, some sort of thought provoking question. And so I thought I would bring back a few of those questions here and maybe we could, just talk about them for a little bit. So one of the questions was what are the best ways that a business could reduce health and health inequalities?

[00:15:55] Fungai Ndemera: Wow. So I actually was in a panel yesterday and I posted a post [00:16:00] on my Instagram this morning talking at the exact same topic. So I think first of all, it's important for us is a race to accept that inequalities exist. And it's shocking when you hear some people arguing, just arguing.

Inequalities don't exist. And I'm thinking, how can you practically argue to that when it doesn't mean that if you are not experiencing it is not happening. . First of all, let's have that thought framework. If it's not happening to you, if somebody talks about something and you have not experienced it and you feel, or you think that it's not happening, maybe keep that thought to yourself, but to disagree with them that it's not happening because you haven't experienced it.

I don't think as a leader, anyone who's in leadership should actually have that mind frame. So a starting [00:17:00] point is to accept that there are things that happen in exist in inequality space that we probably are never gonna experience in our lifetimes because they're not relevant to us and accept that fact.

And then the second fact is that, as you are a company owner, as you are a leader, Allow people and give them room to have difficult conversations without judgment and just listen. If you allow yourself to do that, you are going to learn a lot from people's experiences and from, people the way they think and they view and what they're experiencing.

And then if you want to address those things and then healthy inequalities being one of. You have gotta, you've allowed yourself a framework and a platform that is going to inform your policy and then implement a policy that includes everyone, regardless of what things they may be experiencing. And then it allows them, those things to [00:18:00] be addressed each time they experience them.

And then it's a learning process continuously improve it, but we have to accept that these. Yeah. They and allow us to have the conversations without judging anyone that, that's how I think. 

[00:18:17] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I grew up in a very small town in Indiana and to us culture was essentially, going to the Chinese restaurant or, experiencing some O some new type of food that you know, was in a restaurant L locally and.

As I started traveling globally and my eyes were opened, a little bit more. And I started to understand all the things that, I missed. It's interesting to me how much more I wanted other people to understand, but also whenever you're in that environment, it's hard to understand because at the same time, your mind just doesn't accept or understand that.

But to [00:19:00] your point, you at least need to. Take a step back and say, even though you're not experiencing something it doesn't necessarily mean that it's not happening to somebody else in the population of the world. I completely agree with you. 

[00:19:14] Fungai Ndemera: Absolutely. And for me, I think the one thing that has helped me to kind of shape that ex perspective is that I travel a lot, and me as a person, I am a mixed breed.

So my mom is south African. My dad is Zimbabwe and I now live in England. So I have got just one, one person, three perspectives of experiences. When I visit each country, I have to listen. Understand accept, observe, other people's way of lifestyle or way of living, but what that's doing it's expanding my horizon of how us as a human race.

We've got so many different things that are very different, [00:20:00] but how do we allow everybody to be cared for and to be looked after in a way that's acceptable to. Without judging them. So it's yeah it helps you expand your horizon. Definitely. 

[00:20:14] Don Davis PhD, MBA: So as a keynote speaker, what do you oftentimes speak about whenever you're on stage 

[00:20:25] Fungai Ndemera: Inequalities in whatever way, formal shape, we have to have the difficult conversations because the biggest issue is.

you can't touch them. Sometimes you can't touch them. You can't see them, but you feel them. So it's about having, allowing that conversation to happen and say whether it's in a workplace, whether it's, at home, whether it's in school, it's wherever we have a responsibility to push towards policies that support [00:21:00] us as a race.

To address these things that have existed for a long time. And I think COVID has allowed us to realize that actually, these things exist and we need to have the conversation so inequalities, but then because I'm in the healthcare sphere and in the digital health, I'm now looking at, okay, how are we going to avoid the inequalities, especially specific to.

Through digital transformation, but we have to make sure that our digital transformation strategies are addressing every single area of this, because it'll be sad 10 years from now, 15 years, 20 years from now, we look back and say, we are all digital, but guess what? Those inequalities actually widened.

And we haven't done anything to address them. So I, for me, yeah, that concerns me. And yeah, I'm comfortable talking about it. 

[00:21:54] Don Davis PhD, MBA: oh, it's very. So there are three questions that I like to ask every guest, what [00:22:00] inspires you? 

[00:22:02] Fungai Ndemera: I'm inspired every day by the thought. And the understanding that when I wake up, it's an opportunity to make a difference.

So it inspires me the fact that I'm able to innovate, I'm able to create, I'm able to be the answer and be the change that inspires me and anybody who thinks that way. 

[00:22:24] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Very good. And what concerns you 

[00:22:29] Fungai Ndemera: inequalities and why they exist and why we have individuals and people who may think or believe that they don't exist.

So inequalities they concern me because they are very complex. They're made up of different elements of the society. Shape, somebody from the minute they're conceived in the mother's womb. Some people experience inequalities from conception, and then that follows them through the rest of their lives [00:23:00] till they die.

And that separates us as a society and puts us into groups. And we have a responsibility to bring that to a stop and somebody has gotta be, breach the gap. 

[00:23:12] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And I think it's, I guess I would carry it even further than like human Maybe even more than human inequalities it's could, this also carries through whenever it comes to, where we started, was how hot it is.

So it could be global warming could be vaccines and, the effectiveness of vaccines and whether or not, if science is really, Essentially injecting microchips in all of us, or if we, really are getting a cure or a treatment, it just seems like these sort of. Inequalities could be divided up into, many more things where, you could also expand it to, to scientific inequalities as [00:24:00] well as, human race inequalities.

And I know for sure, I've had people work for me in the past that were in the L G B T Q realm and similar sort of thing. And for sure they, they face those as. Last question. Yeah. What ex what excites you? 

[00:24:22] Fungai Ndemera: I think that for me life, the fact that I'm alive, my husband nearly died of COVID in 2020.

And that experience of thinking that we think that we have life and we don't value life as much as we should in the opportunities that we have. Yeah, but for me, COVID just brought it really home to say, this life that we have is valuable and we are here to make a change and make a difference.

So what it is that can we be doing right [00:25:00] now to be excited about every day to wake up and make a difference, because any minute like this, you are gone and that's it. Yeah. So for me, I'm excited to be alive every morning. I wake up and do my best with the time that I have and what I have and be driven by the fact that I wanna leave a legacy when I'm gone.

I want people to read about me and talk about me and that woman who was crazy about inequalities. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't be here because at the end of the day, I think that's what really matters. I think COVID for me is kind. Wow me to say, there is much more, we need to be doing with the little time that we don't have.

Life is valuable that way. 

[00:25:44] Don Davis PhD, MBA: I'm glad that I'm glad that your husband is okay, but at the same time sad to hear of the struggle. I know a lot of people, struggle through COVID and some didn't make it and it truly is scary to see how fragile [00:26:00] life is. It's just amazingly fragile.

Fungi. Thank you so much for being a guest on the life science podcast. I greatly appreciated our time here. Thanks for joining me. 

[00:26:14] Fungai Ndemera: Thank you so much. It was a so much pleasure and I'm glad about the work that you're doing and taking these messages and spreading them across the globe. Yeah.

To make the world a better place. So thank you so much for having me. 

[00:26:25] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Thank you.

 

Fungai Ndemera Profile Photo

Fungai Ndemera

CEO

Fungai Ndemera is a successful multi-entrepreneur, angel investor business mentor and STEM ambassador.
She is the tech founder of CheckUp Health, NHS Digital aproaved multilingual one-stop hybrid care platform that allows its users to book video and online consultations, monitor personal health indicators, and much more right on their devices. The only health app with cultural and BAME engagement metrics, helping healthcare organisations, from GP practices to corporate organisations, monitor proactively and effectively support patients from various backgrounds. She is the author of "The all dots digital transformation model".