TAMVOES: A Health Care Champion for Waterloo Region
Jessica Lunshof knows firsthand the many challenges of navigating our health care system as one of her mother’s caregivers. Now, she is changing patient experience and health promotion for the better. Based right here in Waterloo, Jessica co-founded TAMVOES, a women-led startup that strives to empower individuals with their health information.
12 years ago, Jessica moved to Waterloo to be closer to her father, but shortly after Jessica’s move, her mother—a previously vibrant, healthy woman—suddenly and unexpectedly became very sick. For three years, Jessica became one of her mother’s primary caregivers, keeping track of her appointments and medical information, updating concerned friends and family, and spending a significant amount of time with her in and out of hospital, much of it at Grand River Hospital.
“Grand River was very present in our story,” Jessica said. “The walls of Grand River and every different aspect—of sleeping on the floor, of being in there consistently, exercising on the nine flights of stairs just to get my steps in, the tears that were shed in there—it’s just like that’s where the heart of the story comes from.”
When a loved one or family member requires medical care, it can be scary and stressful. But many don’t also realize how fragmented certain aspects of our health system are or how challenging it can be for patients and their family members to find and access the care they need, adding a whole other level of stress and uncertainty to an already difficult time.
“[The staff] were great,” Jessica said of her mom’s experience receiving care, “but there was a lack of document sharing between different floors. I remember getting blood work on one floor and running it up to show the oncologist.”
She also noted the frustration and inconsistencies that would arise when her mom required care across multiple hospitals. Because there is no single, cohesive system in place, it can be challenging for patients, family members and medical professionals alike to keep track of a patient's health information, especially when care is received from more than one provider or organization.
“There were different systems used in all different hospitals, so you had to repeat your story all the time,” Jessica recalled. “Everyone would ask the same questions over and over again.”
Motivated by the adversity she experienced while caring for her mother, Jessica was determined to make things better for others who were facing similar situations. Her experiences prompted her to create TAMVOES, an online platform that empowers individuals to securely store and share their health information.
By enabling users to easily compile and share health information all in one place, TAMVOES improves communication and helps eliminate the stress of having to repeatedly recount a patient’s health updates and history, so caregivers and medical care providers can focus more energy on what’s truly important: supporting the patient and providing them with the best care possible.
Beyond improving communication and the patient/caregiver experience, TAMVOES also strives to foster health promotion and prevention. By allowing people to easily access their health data, users have the ability to monitor their own health, seek care earlier when they experience symptoms that could indicate a health problem, and make more informed health care decisions, making TAMVOES an asset to anyone who wants to maintain or take control of their health.
“It’s not just people inside the hospital that need this platform,” Jessica explained. “Our platform is for any age—it’s really about holistic health. So, we have younger adults or younger teenagers starting to download the app and manage their own health”
To that end, TAMVOES recently announced their new integration with Apple Health that allows users to import vitals to effectively track their heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate—it is the first of many integrations that will promote health prevention. As the platform continues to be further developed, TAMVOES also plans to provide incentives that will encourage people to track their health information for the same purpose: to encourage users to take control of their health and be empowered by access to their health information.
“When I first heard Jessica’s story—her story that occurred in the halls of Grand River Hospital—I was inspired,” said Paul McIntyre Royston, President & CEO, Grand River Hospital Foundation. “Her desire to change the health system for the better is compelling. Going forward, it isn’t big institutions that will dictate how things are done: it’s the community. It’s individuals stepping up and saying, ‘this needs to be better.’ TAMVOES pursuit of a better patient record system is completely admirable, and we’re delighted to connect and work with them to help them achieve their goal, not only as a local entrepreneur, but as a health care champion for Waterloo Region.”
You can take control of your health too. Download the TAMVOES mobile app for free and try the new Apple Health integration free for 30 days. Visit tamvoes.com for more information or download the app to get started.