Inspiration

Recognizing the coming dramatic strain on the healthcare system, we decided to transform our COVID-19 anxiety into a solution. We wanted to leverage our experience from Dropbox, Adobe, Work & Co, and Sid Lee to build a service that supports the quality of life and wellbeing of our heroes at the frontline, healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Testing our theory

We hypothesized that many community-based organizations would emerge to serve the various HCP needs, ranging from PPE to groceries. Conversations with HCPs validated that their highest need was PPE equipment, yet conversations with hospital administrators, folks on the PPE supply side, and other teams working to solve the PPE shortage made clear that those shortages will likely be filled.

Moreover, we learned the ongoing "life needs" HCPs have caused by their fight against the coronavirus won’t be solved quickly. These needs include grocery shopping, meal preparation, prescription pickup and delivery; mental health care and emotional support; child, elder, pet, and other dependent care; safe transit and temporary housing, etc.

What it does

We realized these life needs could be well served through a platform that enables HCPs to signal their needs in real time, and delivers that data to service providers who can fulfill those needs quickly. Our product vision became an effective and empathic virtual assistant that can reliably fulfill HCP needs without adding the stress of having to find out where to go to get needs met, if the suppliers are trustworthy, etc.

How we built it

To minimize the time we spent administering infrastructure, while maximizing our ability to iterate on our data model and scale our infrastructure (should we be so lucky) we chose Firebase as our application platform. This additionally allows us to use Javascript everywhere — simplifying the set of skills required from volunteers and those contributing to the code.

Challenges we ran into

One challenge we face is how to ensure services are delivered with a measured amount of safety. Services like childcare require face to face interaction where social distancing is impossible. We are mitigating this by starting with services such as groceries and emotional support, that can be done with minimal or no face to face contact.

Additionally we are partnering with suppliers to ensure safety. For example, in NYC we’re helping activate Y1 and Y2 med students who are trained on how to take precautions, yet not trained enough to help on the frontlines, leaving them to be good candidates for services such as child and pet care.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We spoke to 10 HCPs on the ground, and 8/10 validated that they are working longer hours and are having a significantly hard time getting their day to day needs met. The only ones that did not validate this, were in areas where COVID has not (yet) become active.

Also we have an experienced, capable, and fun team; I'm proud we're all collaborating on something we all so strongly believe will be helpful.

What's next for Help Supply

Our strong team is actively building our V1 web app and planning to have a release this week. We are also building a chat interface to enable even easier onboarding, verification, and request submission. Additionally we're talking to partner organizations on the supply side to ensure request fulfilment. Our hope is to find the right resources and partnerships to effectively roll Help Supply out in US, then translate into other languages for more countries and support the wellbeing of HCPs around the world.

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