Oneida Nation, Wisconsin, October 1, 2022: As an Oneida member, I feel nothing but gratitude for the education I received at Georgetown University. My father “Hoyan” grew up on Salt Pork Avenue in Oneida and now resides in Green Bay. After attending Georgetown, due in large part to the Oneida Higher Education grant, I wanted to pay-it-forward and help others realize their potential.
Along with Canadian entrepreneur, John MacBeth, I cofounded TryCycle Data Systems in 2016. Working with their development team in Ottawa, we aimed to create a system where no one suffering from addiction was left alone with their disease. Our work resulted in thousands of life-saving interventions and millions saved in healthcare costs.
Thanks to Oneida, I went to a great school. So many people are not so lucky, particularly those with opioid use disorder. Addiction is part of my family history, and it has destroyed the lives of many native people. John and I knew we could prevent some of the pain felt by people addicted to opioids.
The idea was born over several dinners near Yale University while MacBeth and I were both working toward a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from The Graduate Institute in Bethany, Connecticut. My final project centered on mentorship in public housing, while MacBeth worked to help station nurses to deliver efficient healthcare to Indigenous people in Western Canada.
Given our shared passion for human services and MacBeth’s success in developing mobile apps for the Canadian government, it wasn’t long before we wondered if a 72-hour radar to prevent relapses was possible. Three years later, Hartford Healthcare’s Rushford Clinic rolled out a mobile app that serves as a Digital Compassionate Tether.
TryCycle’s approach has several advantages. It improves engagement, retention, and medication compliance. It increases patient accountability and reduces the rate of relapse. Finally, for the clinicians, it simplifies data collection, triage, and caseload management.
“We asked a lot of innocent questions and learned a lot by listening,” MacBeth says. “We were not subject matter experts in addiction, so we were able to look at the problem in a new way and disrupt the status quo.”
MacBeth’s commitment to undertaking a healthcare project serving First Nations in Canada never waned. While many people learned of atrocities committed against Indigenous children this year, they were well-known to MacBeth. Earlier this year, the TetherAll and Talking Stick apps were delivered for use by the Big River First Nation in Saskatchewan.
TetherAll removes barriers to care, reduces the shame and stigma of seeking help, and creates a trusted connection between people and their care team. Talking Stick also centers on a human- centered approach. Indigenous Peer Advocates were trained to listen to those who download the app and share their issues anonymously. Through this connection, advocates can provide a warm handoff to healthcare resources and services if the client wants them.
“We are proud to serve our Indigenous brothers and sisters,” MacBeth says. “This project has been a meaningful one. We are looking to build a bridge between tribal nations in Canada and the U.S. and undo some of the damage done to native people in both countries.”
Lastly, I desire to also help public housing residents. With several young entrepreneurs in Connecticut, I have formed a new company called Social Health Passport that tracks the Social Determinants of Health for low-income people and helps them achieve social mobility.
For MacBeth and I, helping people is a full-time job and we’re working overtime.
This article appeared in the Oneida Nation Kalihwisaks Monthly Publication. The original post is available here (see pg. 10)