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Divya Dhar: Empathetic Care Gone Global

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Dr. Dhar. Photo provided.

Divya Dhar has a set of intimidating diplomas – MD, MBA, MPA – on her wall and motivation to boot. We were immediately impressed by her drive to succeed – she told us us that she was once challenged by a high powered executive who blatantly said that she wouldn’t be able to sell anything. “He said that I should hire a white male who eats steak,” she remembers. “But I love challenges and it’s been exciting to report that we haven’t hired any other sales person, yet we’ve managed to get large clinics on board as initial implementers.”

What’s most impressive about Dhar, though, is not her background, nor her credentials (she won the inaugural young New Zealander of the Year award in 2010), nor her sales skills – it’s her empathy. In her short time as a physician, Dhar has co-founded Seratis, a team-based transparency platform that enables care coordination between healthcare providers.

“While practicing as a physician, I realized I was wasting more than an hour each day failing to communicate with my colleagues using outdated technologies like the pager and the unit or ward whiteboard to identify staff,” Dhar says. “So I came up with the idea to start Seratis.”

Seratis extends the concepts of pagers and simple secure messaging software, capturing the patient-centric context of each message and enabling analytics, too. Dhar founded the company while on a Fulbright Scholarship in the joint MBA/ MPA program at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she met her co-founder Lane Rettig, a software developer.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Dhar also founded a non-profit called the P3 Foundation, a youth-led charity that inspires young professionals to volunteer for projects that work to eradicate extreme poverty.

“At the end of medical school, I went to Costa Rica for my medical elective,” Dhar says. “There I became friends with a 9 year old girl whose house I was helping to build (she lived in a flood-ridden region). During our friendship, I came to realize how bright she was and that she yearned to be a teacher. I knew then if I could help children like her reach their dreams, they could in turn lift their own communities out of poverty.”

All of this work leads to a somewhat hectic schedule for Dhar, who now spends most of her time at Seratis while continuing to think deeply about our often-chaotic healthcare system. And we were curious: from her educated, entrepreneurial perspective, what’s the silver bullet for improving our system of care?

First, Dhar says, she believes that medicine will always be a practice about relationships and healing. “Technology can enhance this by making these relationships more easy to find, connect with and exchange dialogue with. But at the end it’s still relationships.”

Dhar also imagines a healthcare future of online and offline worlds paired together to build a new system from the ground up. “I envision a system that puts the patients in the center,” she says. “One where there is complete transparency in cost and quality and the patient is able to share their own data at will to whoever they want and use their data to make their own decisions.”

What to ask Dhar about her life as a physician entrepreneur, her best and worst ideas, and her daily life? At MedTech Boston, we’re passionate about pushing innovative healthcare ideas into the spotlight. We want to help innovators interact with new ideas, understand them more deeply and collaborate with one another. That’s why we’re so excited to announce the launch of MedTech Boston Talk, an online forum where featured innovators will answer your questions for a limited time (come on – they have to get back to innovating!). Join the conversation with Divya now!

Jenni Whalen

Jenni Whalen

    Jenni Whalen is the Executive Assistant of Editorial at Upworthy. She was previously MedTech Boston's Managing Editor and has an MS in Journalism from Boston University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Bucknell University. Whalen has written for Greatist, Boston magazine, AZ Central Healthy Living and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other places. She has also worked as a conference planner, ghost writer, researcher and content developer.

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