Tell us a little about yourself!
Kistein Monkhouse, MPA is the CEO & founder of Patient Orator, a digital health startup, that is using a mobile app to help underserved patients document their medical symptoms to empower their voices in their healthcare experience. She is a public policy expert and former healthcare frontline staff who saw an urgent need to build bridges across communities in healthcare.
She is an award-winning documentarian of the documentary Humanizing Health Care, a narrative-driven emotionally paced film about healthcare experiences in the United States. Kistein is an advisory board member of We The Patients NY, an initiative by the Community Service Society of NY. She is a patient advocate fighting to dismantle systemic inequities that cause health disparities across the healthcare ecosystem.
Tell us about your company and how you got started!
Patient Orator is a digital health startup that is making it easier for underserved people to communicate their medical symptoms and connect to healthcare resources, through our HIPAA compliant app.
Patient Orator was founded in 2017 as I’d recently completed my master’s degree in public policy and was working with underserved patient populations. I wanted to help shift the paradigm of poor patient experience and poor health outcomes among lower-income communities and people of color through video discussion. In the early days, Patient Orator was known as a video blogging site especially for patients living with chronic illness and healthcare professionals seeking to make a difference in the healthcare industry. Along the way, we partnered with several healthcare companies to help them with their patient empowerment video campaigns. Things changed dramatically when my health was in jeopardy. I was traveling across the country and all of a sudden it seemed as though the pelvic pain I was suffering from was being more intense, and less manageable. Then came the day when I was in a pain crisis as I was faced with crippling pain that seized my body momentarily.
After the incident, I had a lightbulb moment. The fact was I was seen by six healthcare professionals over three years and had not been able to gain relief or diagnosis. Combining both my expertise in public policy and public health I came up with the idea for the app that will help people of color like myself as well as poor communities to help empower their voices in their healthcare encounters and match the two healthcare resources.
Since then I’ve been through multiple startup programs to learn more about the startup ecosystem. In 2019 I began showing people the clickable prototype that we had built 97 percent of people identified with the problem of not being able to communicate effectively with their medical professionals. In December of 2019, I hired a development consulting firm and we began building the app. We launched our private beta in March of 2020 and in July of 2020 we added 30 external users to the platform for further feedback. Our goal is to help empower the voices of those that are not validated in their medical encounters. Black and Brown communities, not English speakers, lower-income communities, LGBTQIA communities, etc, are all deserving of good health and access to resources. At Patient Orator, we’re making that possible.
What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
It takes courage to start a company if you’ve already done so congratulations. In my case, it wasn’t easy as I’d bootstrapped to an MVP but I believe in the mission of helping people live better lives. So whether you’re building a company to help make the world a better place or just make a small group of people happy, you’re already contributing to making the world a better place by simply being courageous.