3 min read

Resigning from Oqea

Resigning from Oqea
Photo by KOBU Agency / Unsplash

It was such a tough decision, but my deteriorating health (cervical dystonia) was making it impossible to do my job.

And the sustained high level stress that came with the job was not helping things.

Here are some highlights of the achievements I was most proud of during my time at Oqea...

Being a part of Oqea from its earliest stages - even a couple of months prior to its registration - has had me heavily involved in Oqea's evolution throughout these years. I often found myself contemplating Oqea late into the night and early in the morning.

The initial brainstorming sessions took place in a Subiaco café, where I sat with the five co-founder psychiatrists, dreaming and planning for Oqea. The journey took a significant step toward wider commercialisation with the appointment of our CEO, and although the ride has been exciting, it was often stressful.

For nearly four years, I served on the Board of Directors, being both a founding shareholder and an executive. I appreciated the latitude I had to contribute, innovate, and lead in my distinctive style, relying on my unique mix of clinical practice, personal experience, and over two decades of health technology leadership experience.

I wish to specifically thank Jaroslaw Hryniewicki for gathering an exceptional team of visionaries and pragmatists, and for including me in that group. Murray, Kyle, Ken, and Richard, your camaraderie, friendship, zeal, optimism, and intellectually stimulating conversations were invaluable.

I take pride in having significantly contributed to key strategic, vision-making, and branding decisions. My passion has always been about enhancing the consumer journey, and I've consistently advocated for a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and consumer-engaging approach to mental wellbeing.

Now, as a consumer navigating the overburdened health system for myself, I can add this perspective to my professional and personal experiences. As a supporter, provider, consumer, and solution developer, I believe I've seen the system's problems from all angles!

I am exceptionally proud of our team's accomplishments over the past few years, and I am honored to have led the product design and development.

From a technical standpoint, the Oqea codebase's foundation was based on the code library developed by my company, Clinical Excellence Technologies. The development team of eight was initiated with key developers who had served under me in that former company for nearly a decade.

I'm proud to see that the technical & product team I recruited and managed has evolved into confident, autonomous professionals who excel in their roles.

I am particularly proud of my personal achievements, which include:

  • Proposing & leading the development of our comprehensive, marketplace business model which the founders chose to proceed with.
  • Conceiving the interactive Activity Stream and the Journey page, offering a comprehensive perspective on the wellbeing journey instead of a narrow focus on the latest appointment or crisis.
  • Conceiving & leading the development of Member-Provider Smart Messaging - a transformative functionality, which has become a key aspect of our offering. It facilitates not only a direct connection but also the sending of invoices, files, assessments, template messages, etc.
  • Driving the implemention of Video Calling with Integrated Billing - a feature we incorporated in our product even before Covid made it a necessity.
  • Inventing the Transaction Revenue Model, which has processed a substantial number of transactions and become a fundamental element of our business model.
  • Establishing the Focus Area Concept – a non-illness focused set of categories representing a holistic view of a person's wellbeing challenges. This gives Oqea valuable insights into the problems people are facing and members a significant way of finding relevant content and support resources.
  • Defining and integrating the Four Pillars of Support concept, encompassing self-help, peer support, family, and professional support.
  • Advocating for Oqea to provide its own in-house psychology & coaching services. Not only as a source of revenue, but also to demonstrate a new method of delivering support – one augmented by technology and complemented by self-help, peer, and family support.
  • Leading the technical team in collaboration with other managers to achieve ISO 27001 certification for information security and 100% security compliance scores in Azure (whereas most companies consider a 70% compliance score an achievement).

I deliberately chose the title of Chief Product Officer over Chief Technology Officer because technology, though a powerful enabler, is ultimately not the product.

Our 'product' aims to resolve issues affecting mental wellbeing swiftly and efficiently, and it facilitates a quicker transition from a state of overwhelm to a state of agency and hope.

The key problem consumers face is finding and connecting with the right support in a timely manner and maximizing the value of that support.

The solution doesn't lie in marginal efficiency gains, but in a massive disruption of the traditional support system. If mental health support continues to rely heavily on professionals, a supply-demand imbalance will persist, making it impossible to rectify.

While we have achieved much, there's still an unmet need and ample opportunities left to explore. After four years, I believe there are still no serious competitors for the grand vision we initially set out to achieve with Oqea.

We envisaged a communication and collaboration platform that removes the friction consumers face and places them at the heart of their wellbeing journey, and I believe that need still exists in the mental health space.