This Company Wants To Help You Through One Of Life’s Most Difficult Conversations
Navigating the healthcare system can be daunting and overwhelming, not only for sickly patients but also for their non-professional, family caregivers.
Many of these individuals find themselves in incredibly heartbreaking situations where they have to make life-impacting decisions on behalf of loved ones who can no longer communicate. With only one-third of the U.S. population going through advance care planning, this will continue on a wide scale.
Canopy was created by a group of graduate students in early 2017, leveraged TechArb the student venture accelerator at the University of Michigan, that provides an out-of-the-classroom program to empower student ventures to bring their ideas to life through an intensive and structured entrepreneurial experience. Canopy builds digital tools that simplify end-of-life planning for future patients and their loved ones. With Canopy, one of life’s more difficult conversations becomes much more manageable and future patients can find comfort in knowing that they will be cared for according their preferences and values.
Canopy Offers Users Coverage & Protection
When an individual signs up for Canopy, he or she first completes an intake questionnaire that helps the platform calibrate its guide to the individual. Next, a series of audio recordings and questions help lead the user through identifying a medical proxy, articulating core values, and selecting medical preferences. After, the platform helps individuals complete, sign, and file legal documentation that family members and caregivers can refer to in the future.
All of this information is stored in a digital profile that can be synced with EHRs and shared with family members or medical professionals if an unfortunate medical emergency does arise.
Currently, Canopy is free for individuals to use and can be accessed from mobile, tablet, and laptop devices. The company also built out a solution for organizations that want to encourage advance care planning amongst their employees. Canopy provides these organizations with educational materials and assignments for individuals to take home to complete.
Born Out of Personal Experience
Canopy was founded in 2017 by Elisabeth Michel (MPH ‘17), Ann Duong (MHI ‘18), and Brandon Keelean (MDes ‘18), three University of Michigan graduate students who share a passion for using technology to improve healthcare delivery and lessen the challenges faced by vulnerable populations.
The catalyst for Canopy’s creation was an experience Keelean had watching his friend, Andréa, go through an incredibly tough time making medical decisions on behalf of her uncle who had a complicated history of procedures and interactions with different medical teams. In a blog post detailing this experience, Keelean writes:
“I walked away from my time with Andréa thinking there’s something here that as a society we’re not doing well. Being responsible for the well-being of a loved one is always going to be hard, but some parts of the situation felt unnecessarily difficult and hard to navigate — as if you were trying to cross a bridge over a deep ravine, but most of the planks were missing.”
Over the following year, Keelean and his founding peers collected numerous stories that all shared a similar sentiment – there has to be a better way to prepare for this kind of situation.
This year, the founding team participated in the University of Michigan’s Business Challenge competition and placed 2nd, winning $7,500 that will help Canopy continue developing digital tools that support end-of-life planning in different ways.
Be The One Holding The Light In The Darkness
This Untold story shows us how life’s most difficult moments can spark inspiration for business ideas, products, or services that can make a tremendous impact on society. Although it may not be “sexy” to build a startup centered around tragedy, you have tremendous potential to change people’s lives for the better. Keelean witnessed firsthand how hard it was for Andréa to make medical decisions on behalf of her uncle and decided he should do something about it.
You, too, can identify a situation that weighs heavily on people and create a solution that minimizes pain and hurt. Start with your own personal experience and see where that takes you.
And, if you or your family members have yet to go through advance care planning, do it TODAY with Canopy. It’s important.