Kristy Dickinson, founder of Chronically Simple, has created a secure web-based service and mobile application that is designed to meet the complex needs of patients with chronic illnesses and ongoing health challenges. Through her personal experience facing a chronic illness, she turned a negative situation into an opportunity to help others who are facing medical problems and struggling to manage all the paperwork and appointments.
Kristy Dickinson, founder of Chronically Simple
In 2018, it was reported that nearly half (45%) of all Americans suffer from a chronic disease, and in Canada, 60% of Canadian adults are living with a chronic disease, and 1 in 12 live with a rare disorder. Many times, a person has to see more than two doctors for their illness, which means the patient or caregiver is managing multiple reports and papers. Chronically Simple is user-friendly for tracking appointments, medical records and prescriptions.
“I went to my people,” she explains. “I had friends, unfortunately, that were navigating breast cancer journeys and friends whose children had been diagnosed with different conditions like diabetes or autism. So, I went to all of them and I said, ‘how do you guys manage it? Being sick is almost like a full-time job. How do you manage it for yourself or for your child?’ Everybody said, ‘binders or file folders, or manila folders?’ At that point, I realized that it wasn’t just a Kristy problem. It was a problem that was surrounding a bunch of therapeutic areas. That was around the time that I decided I wanted to create a business and try and build a digital solution to fix this problem.”
Dickinson’s career began in finance and lending. After leaving the financial sector, she opened her firm and worked as a recruiter for 15 years. Her health began to deteriorate 12 years ago when she started having children. “With each pregnancy,” Dickinson shares, “my health got progressively worse. By the time I had my daughter in 2012, things were really not great. I had to take a step back. I called it a pause. I was not very good at coming to grips with the fact that I didn’t know what was happening with my health, and I might not be able to continue on with the plans that I had for myself. So I decided to take a pause. During that year, it was just after I was diagnosed with EDS [Ehlers-Danlos syndrome], and I had 10 different specialists managing my care over three hospital jurisdictions here in Ontario.”
At InnomarLive 2018, Founder of Chronically Simple Kristy Dickinson discusses the significance of … [+]
EDS is a connective tissue disorder, which affects Dickinson’s entire body. She grew frustrated with the lack of communication between the 10 specialists she saw regularly. She began asking for copies of every note, test result and prescription; by doing so helped her feel more in control. As she researched for her app idea, she found that there are hundreds of trackers. “There are medication trackers, appointment reminders and document managers,” Dickinson states. “There wasn’t just one centralized hub where I could keep everything together in a digital location.” Most recently, Chronically Simple partnered with Innomar Strategies, Canada’s leading specialty pharmaceuticals service provider and a part of AmerisourceBergen.
“Running a business,” Dickinson continues, “whether or not it is a recruitment firm or an app, certain aspects of it are similar in terms of managing the sales cycle, the sales process, marketing, branding and the financial aspect of it…Having the corporate experience early on in my career and understanding how big corporations operate was very beneficial for me when I moved into recruitment because I speak their language, and I understood the inner workings of how corporations run and why at the end of the day people are so important.”
Kristy Dickinson, founder of Chronically Simple
As Dickinson faces pivot points expanding the app, she focuses on the following essential steps:
- Don’t make a decision out of fear; research so you can make an informed decision.
- Understand that most pivots aren’t a straight line. It’s going to be a rollercoaster; don’t let it become a merry-go-round ride.
- Don’t second guess yourself. Develop confidence to make an uneasy decision that will propel you forward.
“It’s very important that you go through the grieving process of understanding that we all have plans of what we think our life is going to be,” Dickinson concludes. “I was not planning on getting sick with a degenerative illness, and it turned our world upside down. I needed to figure out what our new normal was going to be and what my new normal was going to be…I really believe that if you can look at a situation as not happening to you, but happening for you, you’ll see that there is an opportunity in the situation.”