A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Being an immigrant. EARLIEST ENTREPRENEURIAL MEMORY: Wanting to start a candy store as a kid. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LAUGH: My Team.
Leveraging data to make healthcare more human
MAKING SMARTER CHOICES. A negative experience in a doctor’s office as a young adult laid the groundwork for Gaurang Choksi's entrepreneurial journey: as a young adult, he went to a doctor who didn’t know what PrEP was when he asked for a refill. He felt surprised and disappointed given that there’s ads for PrEP all over NYC. Gaurang’s experience taught him that the medical field can be both inhospitable and ill-prepared for LGBTQ patients. “It’s something I learned first-hand,” he shares.
“I kept asking myself, why isn’t there a way to better find the right clinicians for me? Why isn’t there a credentialing process for cultural competence? If we had this, all of us could seamlessly find the right clinicians for us and have the strong rapport we want to have with them. We want to be able to ask the questions that are scary to ask, and we need trust to be able to ask them.” This problem was the foundation for his company Violet, the first ever platform that’s improving access to culturally competent clinicians by benchmarking, upskilling, and recognizing cultural competence.
TAKING THE GAMBLE OUT OF MENTAL HEALTH. As a queer person of color, Gaurang felt he should not have to prioritize one of his identities over the other to receive quality health care, and he recognized that a clinician can most successfully address a patient’s needs when they understand the intersection of a patient’s identities. “There are many direct-to-consumer digital health brands for women’s health, BIPOC health, even LGBTQ+ health, but often the underlying issue is that most of us have intersectional needs and want to work with clinicians that understand all of our identities.”
Gaurang envisioned "a model of health care that included a standard cultural competency 'credit score,' allowing care delivery teams and the health care industry the opportunity to self-evaluate using a core set of measurements. Benchmarking, upskilling, and recognition only works at the clinician level, when each clinician can be frank and upfront about their own interests, experiences, and abilities.”
And it works. “We built a network of behavioral health providers who used our cultural competence benchmarking and upskilling platform, and they retained their patients two and a half times the industry average — meaning 87% of our patients stayed in care after the 60th day of starting therapy. It’s a huge success, given that the industry standard is close to 35% retention at day 60. We demonstrated that cultural competence results in much better patient relationships and retention”
Gaurang believes prior systems of care have not only disregarded the patient’s intersectional identities, but they’ve also failed to accommodate a clinician’s interests and preferences. “We ask if they are licensed or not, available or not, in-network or not—but we forget they’re human and have preferences and experiences and identities and backgrounds, too, in both their personal and professional life. When they can express these things in an organized way, it changes everything for them, and for patients—and that changes everything at the industry level.”
When asked why he feels successful as an LGBTQ entrepreneur, Gaurang replies, “it’s going to sound like a pitch for Violet, but I’m successful because I have a really good community of mission-driven people around me. It’s true. Working with a group of people that are passionate about building a better world is a huge part of my success.”