#TogetherWeZoom: Get to Know Stephen Clarkson, Senior Software Engineer

It might sound clichéd, but our employees truly are the heart and soul of ZOOM+Care. They’re a gritty bunch, comprised of adventurers, pet lovers, foodies,  fashionistas, fantasy football fanatics, and everything in between. Each one has an interesting story— and #TogetherWeZoom is where we tell them.  Welcome to our monthly employee spotlight, designed to celebrate the people behind the scenes, working hard to shape the future of healthcare. 

September’s #TogetherWeZoom is a special two-parter, focusing on our amazing IT & Software Development Teams. First up is Stephen Clarkson: a Senior Software Engineer who’s been with ZOOM+Care for over two years.  Keep reading to learn about his proudest moment at Zoom, what inspires him about his work, and what his favorite company perks and benefits are:

What inspires you most about working at ZOOM+Care?

Believing in the positive social impact of my work has been my biggest motivator. ZOOM+Care is fundamentally changing healthcare and has the vision and leadership to continue doing so. It is one of the most innovative disruptors in the market and it’s inspiring to work in a healthcare company that strives to provide on-demand healthcare at half the cost, while still removing the overhead of typical healthcare solutions. As a software engineer, it’s empowering to know that ZOOM+Care considers itself a technology company as well as a healthcare company and that my work has a direct positive impact on the community.

What is your favorite Zoom perk or benefit?

This year our engineering team had full-access passes to the Open Source Software Convention (OSCON 2019). It was a great experience because it gave me insight into where an important part of the software community is moving, and which technologies could be applied to the problems I’m working on right now.

What has been your favorite project so far?

As a software engineer in a healthcare company, we frequently have the opportunity to take deep dives into different aspects of healthcare. From imaging and lab information systems, to patient scheduling applications and provider-patient chat systems, every project I’ve been on has presented new challenges and exciting solutions.

What is your proudest moment at ZOOM+Care?

Software engineers (mostly) like seeing their software being used. For me, it’s exciting to see healthcare professionals use things on a daily basis that I have worked on directly, especially when it relates primarily with people receiving better healthcare.

What have you learned while working here?

A positive work culture improves a team’s productivity in the long run more than anything else. One part of a positive work culture in software engineering is a collective effort to do things the right way, even when it’s easier to do things quickly. Every good decision is additive and momentum builds faster than teams might expect.

Enough work questions! Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

I took a break from college and lived in El Salvador for a few years as a service volunteer.

Are you a tech professional interested in bringing innovative technology to healthcare? Our IT & Software Development Teams are hiring!

Free Nights: Part of Our Commitment to Affordable, Accessible Care

A banner announcing that ZOOM+Care Free Nights are back

Imagine living in constant fear of getting sick. In fear of catching a cold, because it could lead to pneumonia—and pneumonia could land you in the hospital. And what if a hospital visit cost you the equivalent of several months’ rent, or more?

For those without access to insurance, this is the reality.

At ZOOM+Care, we believe that healthcare should be affordable, complete, and accessible to all—but we acknowledge there’s still a long way to go. Obstacles, such as cost and lack of insurance, prevent many from getting the basic medical care they deserve. That’s why, on July 10th, we’re bringing ZOOM+Care Free Nights back. Starting at our MLK clinic, we’ll offer complimentary visits the second Wednesday of every month, from 6-9 PM.

Free Nights are our way of giving back—they’re part of our commitment to making healthcare affordable and radically accessible. Through them, we support care for uninsured members of our community, and for those who do not otherwise have access to healthcare services.

We know you probably have some questions about how our Free Nights work, so we sat down with our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vanderlip to give you some answers. Discover more below.

Hey Dr. Vanderlip! July 10th is the big comeback of ZOOM+Care Free Nights, and you’ve played a huge role in getting them back up and running. Can you tell us why Free Nights are so important to you personally, and to ZOOM+Care as a whole?

ZOOM+Care’s mission is to bring better access to high-quality healthcare services to everyone. But healthcare is expensive, and we have to operate a sustainable business. For some people, the cost of our services is prohibitively expensive. We care about everyone in our community, and this is an opportunity for us to showcase that commitment. Personally, I’m very proud of the system we have and the value of care we provide—this allows us to extend it to even more folks.

How do Free Nights fit into the overall mission of ZOOM+Care?

We want to make access to healthcare simple and delightful for everyone. This is our chance to advance that mission to those who don’t have health insurance, or those temporarily caught in a transition between insurance.

I’ve heard you mention that Free Nights are not a “cheaper, lighter version of ZOOM”— they’re essentially the full ZOOM+Care experience. Can you tell us a little more about that?

That’s right! The experience is essentially the same as any other ZOOM+Care clinic visit, with the absence of online scheduling. Each person is set up with a ZOOM+Care account if they’re new to the system, given a time slot, and seen by one of our ZOOM+Care providers in the exact same way as if they were scheduling a regular ZOOM+Care visit. We focus on one problem at a time and try to knock it out of the park. Most of what we would do is available for free, including our on-site medications and bedside tests. If we order lab tests that take some time to return, we communicate as typical through a person’s ZOOM+Care account and help to arrange appropriate follow up within ZOOM+Care or community partners, exactly the same way we would do it in a typical ZOOM+Care visit.

This is important to note—we are bringing virtually the same exact experience to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

 How does ZOOM+Care staff Free Nights? Do providers volunteer their time, or…?

We care about our providers and value their time— they are reimbursed for their time in our free night the same as if they were seeing patients during the day. On occasion, we may provide some extra incentives to sweeten the pot and thank them for taking additional time away from their personal lives to help us meet the needs of our broader community. I’m talking about pizza. [laughs]

Is there anything we can’t treat on ZOOM+Care Free Nights?

We don’t diagnose or treat STDs. We also don’t provide x-rays. Also, in general, if we don’t do it at regular ZOOM+Care, we can’t do it at free nights. For instance, ZOOM+Care doesn’t prescribe narcotics (opioid pain medications).

Are there any eligibility requirements for Free Nights, or are they open to everyone?

You have to have a valid photo ID to set up your ZOOM+Care account. It also helps if you have an email address so we can connect with you later regarding follow up or lab results.

What is the primary goal of ZOOM+Care Free Nights? Do you see its mission expanding in the future?

The goal is to expand our services to more folks in the community. I see this expanding as far as we can sustain it. I’m thankful that I work with an amazing team who shares my passion for getting our model of care to everyone—our internal excitement to reboot Free Night is unparalleled! I’m confident it will remain a stable fixture of our service offerings for some time.

Want to learn more about what a free visit at Zoom entails? Check out our Free Night FAQs.

Here’s What Using ZOOM+Care for Mental Health Is Like

Q: What’s different about your approach to mental healthcare?

Have you ever sought help from a mental health professional? Think of what that experience was like: Did you have to get a referral from your primary care physician first? Did you call around to dozens of providers, only to be met with long wait times and limited availability? And when you finally did get in to see someone, were they even a good fit? Or, maybe you’re one of the million Americans who have never sought help for their mental health because there were too many obstacles in the way.

No doubt about it, there’s a mental healthcare accessibility problem in our country. Zoom wants to change that. As part of our mission to make mental health care easy and accessible, we offer on-demand visits with or without a referral. Getting help is as simple as scheduling a same-day ZOOM+Care visit directly from your phone.

Our approach is a radical departure from the long wait times and barriers of traditional mental healthcare, but we know that change comes with questions. We’re here to answer yours with a little help from Zoom’s Chief Medical Officer—and board-certified psychiatrist—Dr. Erik Vanderlip. Read on to discover what it’s like to use Zoom for Mental Health.

First things first: How do I schedule a visit?

You don’t need a referral to use ZOOM+Care Mental Health. You can schedule a visit directly from your phone.

However, Dr. Vanderlip says, “There is no wrong door for getting mental healthcare at Zoom. You can begin your mental health journey at any of our ZOOM+Care clinics as well. It’s up to you how you want to use Zoom—whether your concern is urgent or not, we have a solution for you.”

So I can go to any ZOOM+Care for mental health, too?

Yes! Like we said, there is no wrong door to mental healthcare at Zoom.

“Say you’re on an anti-anxiety medication like an SSRI, and you’ve been taking it for years,” Vanderlip explains. “If you just need a refill, you can see any Zoom provider. If we can’t address your issue there, we will recommend that you see a Mental Healthcare specialist—and that specialist will pick up where your ZOOM+Care provider left off.”

How does a mental health visit at ZOOM+Care differ from a traditional mental healthcare visit?

At Zoom, we enable patients to make their own decisions about their mental health.

In the words of Dr. Vanderlip, “We’re different because we believe that you can understand what’s happening to you, and if you don’t, we can help. Zoom is all about putting the power in your hands as an individual, and giving you the agency to decide how and when you want to see us—and who you want to see.”

Will I see the same provider every time?

The choice is yours.

“If you want to see the same Mental Health Specialist every time, you can.” Vanderlip explains. “We make that as easy as possible by allowing you to schedule appointments up to a month in advance. But if your provider gets sick or goes on vacation, then we have a whole team of mental health experts who can offer you insight and guidance.”

That’s interesting! What are some of the advantages of team-based healthcare?

It’s all part of making sure you get care soon as you need it—on demand.

“We have an intensive, team-based philosophy,” Vanderlip explains. “It’s part of how we provide better care. In traditional mental healthcare systems, you can call your doctor and leave them a message if you need anything. But in those systems, doctors burn out because they’re returning 50 phone calls a day. They never have enough time to focus on the person in front of them. When you see a ZOOM+Care provider, the focus is 100% on you and the time you’ve got together. Our providers are not distracted by something else—that’s one of the ways we provide really great healthcare—and it’s no different for mental health as well.”

What treatments does ZOOM+Care Mental Health offer?

That’s up to you, too.

“Our number one goal is to help you make sense of what’s happening to you, and then offer a range of treatment possibilities for you to consider. We help you understand the pros and cons of each treatment, then let you decide what sounds best,” Vanderlip says.

“If it’s therapy, we don’t do intensive psychotherapy within Zoom. However, we can connect you with a community partner that does. We can also direct you to great resources such as apps or books to personalize your approach to therapy. And in each visit, our team of fantastic mental health providers can infuse basic therapy principles to help you on your journey to recovery. If it’s medication, we can prescribe most medications. Our providers offer great advice and guidance on how to use medication to help you get over what you’re struggling with.”

So what you’re saying is, I’m in the driver’s seat?

Absolutely.

“We don’t want to be a big part of your life,” says Dr. Vanderlip. “We want to get you to a place where you feel better and functional, and then we want to get out of your hair. Our goal is to be as minimally invasive as possible—in many ways, we’re just your copilots in mental health. You’re calling the shots.”

Are there any treatments and medications you DON’T offer?

Yes. We don’t prescribe certain medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, or Ativan – commonly known as benzodiazepines. We’re also unable prescribe medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder such as methadone, buprenorphine or suboxone, and long-acting injectable antipsychotics like haloperidol decanoate and Abilify Maintena.

If you need stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin, amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, we require an in-person Mental Health or Internal Medicine visit.

Curious about what conditions we treat (and how we treat them)? Learn more about what to expect from a ZOOM+Care Mental Health visit.

May is Mental Health Month. Here’s What Zoom is Doing to Support Mental Healthcare

Scrabble tiles that spell out the words "mental health."

May is Mental Health Month: a time to raise awareness about mental healthcare and break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

According to research from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year. Of those 46.6 million, only 41% will seek help due to stigma and fear of discrimination—and even fewer get will get the treatment they need.

At Zoom, we’re on a mission to change that statistic. We aim to make mental healthcare accessible, convenient, and judgement-free—not just this month, but every month.

Our philosophy is that mental illness is like any other medical illness. Mental health stigma is rooted in feelings of fear and embarrassment, and we want people to know there is no shame in finding a listening, caring guide. As Dr. Erik Vanderlip—Zoom’s Chief Medical Officer, as well as a board-certified psychiatrist—says, “Just like you’d go to the doctor for a sprained ankle, you can see a Mental Health Care professional for an assessment.”

Beyond eliminating stigma, Zoom strives to make mental healthcare ultra-accessible. We support a whole person approach to care, and want our patients to know that there is no wrong door for seeking help. “Getting mental healthcare shouldn’t be difficult,” Vanderlip reflects. “We have built extensive bridges between our everyday healthcare services and our mental health services. Some patients opt to begin their mental health journey at our Super clinic, some opt to begin with an Illness / Injury visit, and some go directly to our Mental Health specialists. The idea is, whatever door a patient walks through, they should be able to get great care for whatever stage of recovery they find themselves in.”

Lastly, we believe empowering patients with knowledge can go a long way in helping them take control of their mental health. “The goal of our Mental Health Services is to provide great guidance and advice, so patients can plug back into their lives. We want to give them the tools to feel better on their own,” says Dr. Vanderlip. “But whenever they feel stuck, they can dial us up. It’s all about empowering people to make decisions about their mental health. In many ways, we’re just copilots—the patient is the one in control.”

Curious about what conditions we treat (and how we treat them)? Learn more about what to expect from a ZOOM+Care Mental Health visit.

How We Zoom: Co-Founder & CEO Dave Sanders at TEDx Portland 2017

On April 15th, ZOOM+Care Co-Founder and CEO Dave Sanders took the stage at TEDx Portland to reveal the 3-part formula that has already begun to revolutionize healthcare. Watch the crowd-rallying talk or read the full transcript below.

Continue reading “How We Zoom: Co-Founder & CEO Dave Sanders at TEDx Portland 2017”