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Caring for marginalized patients

Imagine a world where all patients have access to advanced medical care, no matter where they are. That reality is closer than you think.

On this episode of Boldly, Nancy Crain from Joule interviews a 2017 Joule Innovation grant recipient, Dr. Dennis DiValentino. He used this grant to help fund and gain exposure for RAMCare, an initiative to provide better access to care for marginalized patients.

He shares how he got to where he is today, why he is so passionate about marginalized patient care and how technology helps doctors meet their needs.  Above all, he is passionate about fixing problems. His advice to future innovators is to find a problem and provide ways of solving that problem.

Over the years, Dr. DiValentino has learned to practice work-life balance―which has changed his definition of success―listen to find out how.

tweetable: “The opportunities, I think, are endless!”

Key takeaways

What made Dr. Dennis DiValentino want to specialize in family medicine?

  • Two significant people had a long-lasting impact on his life, and inspired him to choose this path.
  • When he saw the effect he could have on the lives of marginalized patients, it opened his eyes.
tweetable: “I think it’s important that we remember what we call the ‘forgotten patient.’”

What initiatives is he currently working on?

  • Although services are technically available to everyone, many cannot access the care they need―particularly marginalized patients.
  • He sought potential solutions to this gap through virtual care technologies.
  • One way around inaccessibility is a virtual care unit that is entirely mobile. If the people can’t come to the care, take the care to them.
  • Other areas of health care, like retirement homes, can these mobile care units.
  • In the future, medical tech will reach more people in their own homes.
tweetable: “The physician or service provider can be anywhere in the world and provide the service to the patient in their own environment.”

How did he get started in innovation? 

  • Towards the end of his residency, he noticed some gaps in health care delivery.
  • He wanted to address these gaps and found himself most passionate about problem solving.
  • Shifting his mindset from viewing challenges as opportunities for improvement was helpful.
tweetable: “When you’re passionate about something, you get so much further with that project or that initiative.”

How does Dr. DiValentino measure success?

  • Career-wise, having a lasting impact is success for him.
  • But, establishing a healthy work-life balance is a greater success.
  • How someone defines success is ever-changing—for him it means being a great father AND physician.
tweetable: “You have to show the people behind you all the amazing things that can be done.”

What are the goals for RAMCare?

  • Short-term: to be seen as a valued process of care.
  • Medium-term: to expand into more areas.
  • Long-term: to make RAMCare available across the country.
tweetable: “Have there been challenges? …yeah!”

How has the Joule Innovation grant helped his initiative?

  • RAMCare wouldn’t be where it is today without the financial help and exposure gained through the program.
  • Joule’s network is invaluable to forming connections – it brings like-minded individuals together.
  • He was able to connect to one of their partners,  Reacts IIT, through Joule.
tweetable: “I think the problem that we’re discussing and the solution that we’re discussing are really ones that should go together.”

What advice would DiValentino give to up and coming innovators?

  • The path to success is helping people solve a problem…everything else will follow.
tweetable: “I think that success in the future is going to be found by fixing problems.”

Recommended resources

How collaboration shaped my experience with innovation, a Boldly article by Dr. DiValentino

The power of connections, a Boldly article about Dr. DiValentino

Dr. Dennis DiValentino, RAMCare, a video about RAMCare for the 2017 Joule Innovation grants

Caring for marginalized patients with Reacts, a case study about how RAMCare uses the Reacts platform



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The opinions stated by podcast participants are made in a personal capacity and do not reflect those of the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiaries, including Joule. Joule does not endorse any views, product, service, association, company or industry mentioned in this podcast.