Digital Transformation in a Medical Non-Profit

Every organization – businesses and non-profits alike – must learn to do more with fewer resources.


Dec 03, 2016

Every organization – businesses and non-profits alike – must learn to do more with fewer resources. Today’s business climate makes understanding the customer, and creating the right experience for them, a top priority.

CURE International operates in many countries and focuses on treating orthopedic and neurological conditions in children. To better fulfill its mission, CURE realized it needed to get smarter about growing its infrastructure and improving the user experience for both patients and donors.

Hear how CURE International uses a sophisticated level of digital experience to engage donors, encourage contributions, and improve health care delivery to the children who are its patients. Learn how tracking and aggregating user data on CURE’s website contributes to a better digital experience.


Michael Krigsman: I'm Michael Krigsman, industry analyst and host of CXOTalk. We're here at Future Stack '16, which is New Relic's conference in San Francisco. And I'm talking with Joel Worrall, who is the CTO of CURE International. Hey Joel!

Joel Worrall: Hi!

Michael Krigsman: How are you doing?

Joel Worrall: Great! Great to see you!

Michael Krigsman: And likewise! So, tell us about CURE International.

Joel Worrall: Yeah. So, CURE is a medical nonprofit, and our primary focus: We run hospitals and programs in 29 countries around the world, where we're primarily treating kids who've got surgically correctible conditions. So, we're there to provide surgery for those kids, and do a lot of work to be restorative for them and their families, and actually bring them back into their societies, help them go back to school - really just transform the lives of those families through a medical intervention.

Michael Krigsman: And CURE International has been around for a long time.

Joel Worrall: Yeah, we're actually 20 years old, about to turn 21, so ... We're finally getting to be adults as an organization. But yeah, we have experienced a tremendous amount of growth in our first 20 years, just growing from one hospital in Kijabe, Kenya to now a presence in 29 countries around the world.

Michael Krigsman: So you're CTO.

Joel Worrall: Yes.

Michael Krigsman: And, this is a naive question, but why does a non-profit like CURE International need a CTO?

Joel Worrall: Yeah. No, it's actually a really important question, something I talk about a decent amount. Digital transformation is really important. We talk about actually, at this conference, the idea that every business is becoming a software business. And so, CURE happens to sit at the intersection of two areas that need a lot of innovation, particularly when it comes to digital, and that's non-profit and healthcare. Both of them tend to have really terrible technology, and as an organization that's trying to do the absolute most good with the least amount of resources, we found that really engaging in what software and what technology can do for us has been really critical to the growth of the organization in the last 7 years.

Michael Krigsman: So you are involved with the technology architecture.

Joel Worrall: Yeah. The technology, and actually the marketing of the organization.

Michael Krigsman: Because you're using technology for marketing purposes.

Joel Worrall: Yup. We're doing that both on the operational side, as well as the communications side. So, seven years ago, when I joined the organization, the messaging of the organization was pretty underdeveloped; and really, it was about, "Where is the next place we're going to build a hospital?" And we made a very intentional decision to shift from talking about, "Where's the next place we're going to build a hospital?" to, "Who's the next person we're going to treat?"; and really think about, "How do we get smarter and better about growing our infrastructure, making sure we're providing higher and higher quality experiences for the people that we're serving, which ultimately are children?"

Michael Krigsman: That's so interesting, because this is the ... We could say, the non-profit instance of being customer-focused, rather than product-focused.

Joel Worrall: Yes! Absolutely! Absolutely, I mean, the outcome isn't about [the] physical plant, it's about the lives that are being transformed. And ultimately, we wanted to create an experience where people that were giving to us had the opportunity to really feel like they understood what was happening with the dollars they were entrusting us with, and really help them understand and be a part of that work, directly on the ground. And the Internet actually allows us to do that. So, we were able to build a software platform where you can follow the stories of people who are being served by us in real-time, get updates on your smartphone, or on your computer, and actually gauge for us the people that opt into the program to be able to do things like send a get-well message to someone in a bed who actually, at the time, may not feel like anyone in the world really cares about them to be able to say, "I'm here, I'm paying attention, I care about you, in fact, I've been a part of your treatment."

Michael Krigsman: So these technologies support a layer of communication, which actually is core to your mission as an organization.

Joel Worrall: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it not only helps fund the work we do, but it also helps really focus the work we do to ensure everything that we do is really about that person in a bed. That's the person that we're there to serve, it's the reason that we all left our careers to come work for an organization like CURE.

Michael Krigsman: So it's very mission-driven.

Joel Worrall: Yeah, very. Very.

Michael Krigsman: Now, what about data? For many organizations, the data is a kind of link or glue between the user experience, and the development organization. How does that work for you?

Joel Worrall: Yeah. So, particularly when it comes to this online patient reporting platform, it's been ... We actually use information on how people are interacting on the site to feed into an analytics platform for us to analyze: What are really the stories that are trending? What things are we saying that are helping people connect with the mission better and better? I mean, the thing I say pretty often is that people aren't scanning around the Internet trying to find a way to give away their money. So the moment that they come to your website, and they want to get engaged, they want to learn about what you do. You have to have really clear messaging and you have to have a really compelling experience. Then you have to create a really frictionless experience and what it means for them to make a giving decision to you. So for us, we want to make sure that those people who decide to start giving to us on a monthly basis feel really good about that decision, about the experience they have kind of ─ like that "checkout" experience; but then ultimately, we're reinforcing the decision that they made month over month by the updates they're getting, helping them understand, "Yes, my money's really going to do this type of work overseas to impact the lives of kids."

Michael Krigsman: So for you, this digital transformation connects so strongly to the end-user experience.

Joel Worrall: Yeah, absolutely.

Michael Krigsman: So let's close with, again, coming back to data: What are the kind of metrics that you look at? How do you know that you're on the right track?

Joel Worrall: Well, for us, there's a couple really key elements. First of all, how much time are you spending on the site? So, if you're on our website over a certain amount of time, we understand that there's a very high probability that you are interested and engaged, and that you probably want to have some sort of ongoing relationship with us, whether it's advocacy or as a donor. So that's something we really track. And then also, how often are you coming back and actually checking things like the updates that we're producing from the field? And then the ability to actually aggregate that information and understand down to a customer-level of what people are doing, and how they're engaged has been really helpful. We also have some things where we track, "Who are the people that are our biggest advocates online?" So, who are talking about our stories? Who are sharing our stories? So that we can reach out and actually sort of give those people an Internet high-five like: "Thanks for being a part of the mission in a very special way, because we recognize those people are influencing many other people to help support the work that we do.

Michael Krigsman: I love that. The "internet high-five."

Joel Worrall: Yeah.

Michael Krigsman: Joel Worrall, CTO of CURE International, thanks a lot!

Joel Worrall: Yeah. Thank you!

Published Date: Dec 03, 2016

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 400