Cousins Isabella Calixto and Particia Yap are the brains behind the start-up IMpatient, an app-based solution to long, stressful waits at the clinic
Health is wealth.
If there is one takeaway from the pandemic, it is the truth in that statement. But although health is wealth, timely and convenient healthcare is not always available.
Those long, stressful, anxiety-filled waits at the clinic or doctor’s office, when the uncertainty of the situation would nestle in the corner of your mind and fill it with dark apprehensions, is what convinced two fresh graduates that something ought to be done.
Isabella Calixto, 24, and her cousin, Patricia Yap, 23, created and now manage the daily operations of IMpatient, a healthcare app for patients and doctors that provides digital solutions to every Filipino’s healthcare needs. Looking to book an appointment, or even undergo an online consultation via messenger or video chat? Those are just some of the features of IMpatient that Isabella and Patricia ensured would be available, reducing waiting times and managing patient expectations.
“IMpatient is a play on words,” says Isabella. “It can read as ‘I am Patient,’ and, at the same time, it represents our growing impatience when dealing with inefficiencies.”
In an interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, the cousins-slash-business partners discuss how the app developed from personal experiences and frustrations, the effects of the pandemic, and what it is like to launch a start-up during these uncertain times.
How did you guys get the idea to start IMpatient?
Isabella: It was derived mainly from experience. Two years ago, I was waiting outside my doctor’s clinic. I can vividly recall how frustrating it was to spend more time waiting than the actual consultation, not to mention being anxious about my condition worsening. At that moment, I thought to myself, “There has to be a more efficient way to do this.”
Patricia: In the past two years, I’ve lost two mother figures in my life: one to cancer, another to Covid. It was honestly really difficult seeing them go through such frustrating and stressful conditions. It made me think that if I could do something to make my loved ones’ experiences in hospitals easier somehow, maybe that’s something worth my time.
How do you think the pandemic changed your timeline and your experience?
Patricia: Like any other business, we had our initial doubts and apprehensions about starting IMpatient. Seeing the gravity of the entire situation, however, provided us with the assurance that we were headed in the right direction. We realized that there was a real need for a system like ours, especially in these challenging times. Hence, we really did our best to streamline our process in order to release the app as early as possible.
Isabella: The pandemic changed how outpatient care is delivered, as well as people’s perception of telemedicine. The need for virtual solutions rapidly increased more than many were prepared for. We needed to adapt quickly to the situation and be mindful to create value for our users. Since app development started before the pandemic, we applied last-minute enhancements that caused delays in our timeline. We believe, however, that value-adding features are worth pursuing despite the delays.
What was it like putting together a start-up, especially in this environment?
Isabella: Every entrepreneur knows from the onset that it’s not a walk in the park. Starting a business means that everything is on you, which is why Patricia and I wear several hats. In fact, we wear all the hats. With the pandemic forcing us to work differently, it was a challenge to establish work hours and set boundaries for ourselves because there’s never enough time. The crisis has also fast-tracked everything and influenced people to be more accepting of emerging healthcare technologies. Launching IMpatient during this unprecedented time of change was both challenging and fulfilling.
Do you have any tips for young entrepreneurs who are starting their own businesses, particularly in our current environment?
Patricia: The one thing I learned from this entire experience is that being successful is no easy feat. It takes time, luck, and a lot of dedication. There were so many times I felt so small alongside such fierce competition. But then a realization hit me. All these big brands dominating the market were once also just small businesses with large dreams. For me, it really is just about keeping an open mind and being patient.
Or, rather, IMpatient (pun courtesy of the author, not the interviewees).