Autogenerated Transcript

Kelly J Wendlandt (00:00.931)
One and we are live on the vodcast with Sean O ‘Neill. Sean, how is your day going?

Sean O’Neil (00:07.278)
It’s going really well. It’s a beautiful day in paradise here in Minnesota. It’s over 50 degrees, so what the heck? It’s gone. Just a distant memory.

Kelly J Wendlandt (00:13.219)
Yeah, there is no more winter. There is literally no more winter. It’s I took a walk. Yesterday, it felt like April. I mean, the lakes were melt. I drove past lakes. They look like they’re melting.

Sean O’Neil (00:27.214)
No, I went by Lake Harriet right next to my house here and it was completely ice free except for a little bit around the shore.

Kelly J Wendlandt (00:35.759)
Yeah, absolutely. Do live right on Harriet.

Sean O’Neil (00:38.446)
I just have… You’re like half a mile away.

Kelly J Wendlandt (00:41.455)
Yeah, close enough. Do you walk? Do you take walks? You’re a runner. You’re a runner. You’re a runner. And you look like a runner. How much do you run in the morning? Like, my…

Sean O’Neil (00:43.95)
That’s my morning run. Yeah.

Sean O’Neil (00:50.466)
Oh, it’s about four miles. So it’s like from my house, do a little bit of a loop down to the lake and back. And that’s, it’s a nice even number. So I can’t go more nor less.

Kelly J Wendlandt (01:00.303)
How often per week do you go? So you’re in your body, your knees put up with that, no problem.

Sean O’Neil (01:02.798)
Oh, about four times a week.

Sean O’Neil (01:08.238)
Um, I’ve had reconstructed surgery on my left knee after a getting over my skis on Mount Zermatt, Switzerland, about two years ago. And it’s been part of the therapy and, um, just stick with it no matter what.

Kelly J Wendlandt (01:23.715)
literally getting over your skis.

Sean O’Neil (01:25.838)
Yeah, that old adage of doing, trying to accomplish something that you really can’t or in like project management, we always say we’re getting ahead of our skis, you know, that I did. It did not turn out well. Helping put, you know, my orthopedic team’s children through college, I’m sure, but you know.

Kelly J Wendlandt (01:37.135)
Yeah, you literally got over your skis and it didn’t, it didn’t turn out that well, huh?

Kelly J Wendlandt (01:49.103)
Well, you are pretty diehard to go through that and be still running, so good for you.

Sean O’Neil (01:57.422)
Well, you know, the leading cause of death is not moving. And actually, there’s even an interesting story if we want to get into the healthcare side. So I’m going to let you roll with that.

Kelly J Wendlandt (02:07.375)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s, yeah. No, let’s, no, tell me about that. So, is, that’s, I’ve heard people say that, talk about that in the Blue Zones. So, tell me about that. Is that true? Is, keep moving and you got a much better chance.

Sean O’Neil (02:21.23)
Yeah, it really is. So, you know, I’m currently serving as the interim CTO at Solera Health, which is a digital platform connecting payers and providers, payers on the one hand, we’ve got a variety of different insurance companies that whose membership is literally demands modern digital health care engagement.

And then on the provider side, there are apps that we’ve all heard about, um, you know, Ginger and the depression space, uh, hinge, um, the, uh, Weight Watchers even. Right. And MSK, the muscular, muscular skeletal, gotta say that slow side of the house has always been really fascinating to me. Um, and the numbers that we get back from these types of programs.

are astounding to me and I’ve been in healthcare for over 26 years. Where someone suffering from pain, I mean that’s number one. You come into this program because you’ve got pain and lack of mobility and you’re on a trajectory for typically some type of surgery to deal with that. And then this program says well,

you know, before we go to surgery or maybe that’s in the path and let’s get you ready for it. Let’s see what you need, you know, individually to reduce your pain. And that’s the main measurement. You know, measurement of success is not how many people do we keep out of surgery or how many people that we change. I mean, the one thing that will that is tracked in that program is pain management.

And the methods obviously will be tailored for that individual and through that digital engagement platform Generally, it’s just get yourself moving take a couple steps if that’s you know the very beginning is walking across the living room a couple times a day and then building on that and building on that and it mirrors my own experience where if I’m feeling creaky in the morning I

Sean O’Neil (04:49.614)
I’ve had, I’m left at, I’m just had my pre -op physical for my 10th surgery. Um, and, and I’ve broken, I think I’m north of 18 bones. So, um, yeah, I like to ride motorcycles and go fast and, but it’s not the speed that is the problem. It’s the abrupt stop at the end. That’s, that’s where, that’s where things get, um, dicey. But anyways, in my own experience, that’s it. If you’re not moving, you’re in pain.

Kelly J Wendlandt (04:55.823)

Kelly J Wendlandt (05:07.949)
That’s hard on your bones.

Sean O’Neil (05:18.478)
And it hurts to move, but if you’re doing it right, and this is where having the guidance of professionals that specialize in this type of treatment, it’s astounding what movement can do to get you over the pain that was preventing you from moving. And then the human body, the joints, ligaments, muscles, as they start to be exercised again,

you know, how does that change your overall health? You know, and then holistically approaching that individual. And this is where like all the digital wellness apps that we have in the Solera network, you know, all start to mesh together because oftentimes we, you know, individuals have, you know, multiple problems that kind of feed into each other, right? Good. If we’ve got Ginger for depression,

and you know over and while weight management program you know sometimes those are related you know aware you know exactly k

Kelly J Wendlandt (06:21.807)
I thought that was, I was going to ask you about that because like I know people who have used Weight Watchers on their phones and had success with it. My wife is using it right now and she’s always typing in, you know, points or calories on the thing and it’s helping or she, you know, she says, yeah, it’s really important to me to have the phone and have Weight Watchers on it. I’ve always been curious though on the mental health side.

To me, it seems like as a skeptic, using digital to solve mental health is going the exact wrong direction. But when you talk through, you know, the concept of just how some of these things can help people get people up and moving, like it’s those things I think are probably all tied together. Like you’re going to feel better if you start moving mentally maybe. And so I guess I guess I hadn’t thought through that in detail. Is the evidence that…

the applications, the digital apps can help people with mental health. Is that coming back to show that?

Sean O’Neil (07:25.614)
Yes, in a number of different fronts, both from a maintenance perspective. If you’re undergoing mental health challenges, having a monitoring system that is more frequent than going in to see your provider once every six months. And that’s assuming that you can even get in because there’s a nationwide shortage of care practitioners in the mental health space.

So accessing an in -person visit can be really challenging, right? So what do you do in the meantime? And how can you have a digital solution that can help monitor your day -by -day experience and hopefully, from a therapeutic standpoint, move the needle, get you healthier, but at least let’s also make sure that your conditions are not going in a situation where things can rapidly deteriorate.

Kelly J Wendlandt (08:20.015)
Yeah. Are there apps that help with addictions as we’re talking through this? It made me think of addiction issues and how daily reaffirmation is so important with people with addiction issues. Is that part of the app set that you guys have?

Sean O’Neil (08:35.694)
You know, from the perspective that I know from our condition network, we haven’t moved beyond smoking cessation. But it’s interesting that you bring that up because I think even historically back from my time at Optum, smoking cessation was actually, I would say, one of the tip of the spear in this whole field of digital engagement. Quit for Life and many of these programs.

that really moved the industry or maybe the market segment. Many of them started with smoking cessation because that type of, it’s always there type help that you can get to get you through that 20 minutes where if you’ve got a craving, if you need to get past that 20 minutes, you’re gonna be good for a while.

those digital engagement platforms were really successful. Above and beyond smoking cessation, I’m not aware of the experience from our side of the house, but I’m sure that there are…

Kelly J Wendlandt (09:46.511)
Well, it’s the same, it’s drugs a drug if you’re addicted to it, you know, it probably extends to gambling and everything else that you can.

Sean O’Neil (09:57.678)
Yeah, yeah.

Kelly J Wendlandt (09:59.375)
And so on the other side of the fence, which is fascinating to me, you do work trying to help the people of Africa with their health care. So there’s the digital side in the U S in Africa. You were telling me a story how you’re putting up a radio tower. So what’s it like though? Yeah, it’s, it’s going from digital to, to analog on the radio front. And you probably got some different challenges and you’re a brilliant.

Sean O’Neil (10:15.374)
Oh yeah.


Sean O’Neil (10:25.836)

Kelly J Wendlandt (10:29.007)
technician, do those skills come into play when you’re figuring out how to get a radio tower built in Africa and how you can educate people on the different various health concerns you’re trying to educate on or how does that work?

Sean O’Neil (10:41.518)
Yeah, yeah. So I wish I could set up my own radio tower. In this case, it’s like a smart engineer knows where to ask for help. So the nuts and bolts of putting that tower up are going to be handled by people much more qualified than me. But putting together the business case is kind of where I leaned in on it. Like, what does this look like? Of how you know, what is the problem we’re trying to solve? The problem we’re trying to solve is health care education.

Kelly J Wendlandt (10:50.863)

Sean O’Neil (11:12.142)
Okay. Now, many people have heard that, you know, the mobile phone have swept across the entire continent of Africa. There’s, you know, indices that say there’s more mobile phones than there are outlets. And that, that’s sink in for a second, you know, electrical outlets. So they’re everywhere and they’re rather ubiquitous. So one would think that, well, this is now a new channel for people to get healthcare information.

But the challenge of the way that people consume their data on and in most if not all of the regions that I’m familiar with There’s there’s no such thing as like an unlimited data plan. It’s just not it’s just not the way things are everything is still you pay for your minutes and So people are very very judicious with their app usage in ways that we would not be familiar with in the in the US

And so trying to make health care information available for people that would go out and just kind of browse the web and just find that and then pull that type of information, it just doesn’t fit the way that people consume information. And the way they do is via the radio. Now, these two worlds come together in that pretty much any phone that you buy in Africa is going to have an FM and an AM receiver built into it.

Kelly J Wendlandt (12:29.199)

Kelly J Wendlandt (12:39.855)
I will be darned though that’s really interesting. Huh.

Sean O’Neil (12:43.182)
Yeah, yeah. And I’m working with a Turkish manufacturer to bring in just tons and tons of phones that are going to be built to my specifications. And that’s one of the things that I absolutely need in my phones are these FMAM receivers. Because then passively, if you just got it plugged into an outlet, you’re now consuming media. And so what we’re looking to solve is, OK, so here’s the phones. Everyone’s got phones. I’m also bringing in low -cost phones.

to make sure everyone’s got a phone. And then putting up a radio tower where we can do kind of public radio style programming around health care, nutrition, neonatal care, prenatal care. But then even going into the community needs, the area that we are at, as a lot of mining. Where we put the tower is going to cover South Sudan, Uganda.

and the DR Congo and a piece of Burundi. And not all of those countries, but like the area where the Bukavu region, if everyone wants to Google maps that later.

Kelly J Wendlandt (13:50.671)
We’re going to learn. I’m going to learn something today when we’re done with this podcast. I’m going to go into my National Geographic Mapping and check that out.

Sean O’Neil (13:58.286)
That’s it. They all kind of come together. There’s a lot of mining going on right now, too. So we’re thinking of mining safety, environmental safety, things having to do with contamination of waterways and things of that nature. And on the agriculture front, we’re looking at ourselves. We also have a farm out there. We’ve got about 4 ,000 acres in Uganda. And we’re looking to put in cassava.

And right now it’s corn, which is a horrible crop because the industrial corn, you’re not really eating it. You’re selling it internationally where it usually gets turned into, you know, animal feed or things of that nature. And you’re, you’re competing with Kansas. And so why, why do that? You know, anyways, yeah, you can. Well, I know they’ve got.

Kelly J Wendlandt (14:48.687)

Kelly J Wendlandt (14:52.367)
And it’s tough to compete with Kansas. Don’t ever try to compete with Kansas. They will steamroll you. They’ll steamroll you. They got the best land. They got farmers that never quit.

Sean O’Neil (14:57.548)
everything that they need.

Sean O’Neil (15:04.11)
And literally like five million dollar machines, you know, that eat every single penny out of every single acre. And they still struggle in the United States. You know, so why? Why do that? I mean, we can get two growing seasons in because it’s never winter, so we’ve got two growing seasons, but water is very dependent. I mean, it’s 100 % dependent on the rain. The rains are generally predictable.

Kelly J Wendlandt (15:07.343)
Yeah, right.

Sean O’Neil (15:31.79)
But corn is so sensitive that if they come a week or two or maybe three weeks late, that’s it. You lost the entire crop. So we’re going to put the cassava in there. Yum, yum, yum. Which is so funny, because I’ve been going to Africa for 12 years. And I eat achiake. I eat all of these different cassava -based foods. It’s kind of the starch that we would have potatoes or rice or wheat or corn.

It was so funny, I was talking to a friend of mine, Brittany Olson, the motorcycle racer. I told you about her going down to Nashville next week where we’re doing some motorcycle stuff. And she also works with me on these programs because her focus is on nutrition. And she says, Sean, do you realize that there’s a huge market for cassava flour in the United States? I’m like, I don’t know. But it’s like, yeah, it’s a gluten alternative.

And in many ways, and that’s kind of something that’s really big enough and coming in the United States is gluten alternatives or gluten free. And so I’m like, yeah, that’s it. So we’re going to put in a whole bunch of cassava here. We’re going to enrich it. This is one of the big challenges in Africa and actually many Latino populations in the United States that eat masa. Masa in the United States is not enriched. Because back in, I don’t know,

Kelly J Wendlandt (16:34.191)
Right, right.

Sean O’Neil (16:55.086)
50s, 60s, 70s, back when in the US, the government was mandating that flour and rice are enriched with vitamins and I don’t know what else they put in there, iron, niacin.

Kelly J Wendlandt (17:09.295)
Yeah, riboflavin’ maybe, all those things.

Sean O’Neil (17:11.054)
Right? Yeah. All the things that if you’re eating a flour -based diet, you get. But if you’re eating a masa -based diet in the United States, you’re not getting that enriched nutrition. And so we’re looking to replicate that in the Bukavu region with our cassava plantation, where we will enrich, turn it into flour, and then so that the local market can then take advantage of that enriched food source.

And then also export it for cash because that’s important for economic development of the community and try to do as much as we can of that value add, you know, in country by bringing in all of the necessary milling equipment and packaging equipment in order to, you know, lock in all of that profit to the local population instead of exporting it.

Kelly J Wendlandt (18:05.359)
Right, right. Well, Sean, you’re doing wonderful things in Africa. You’re also doing some great things in the US. Love the digital stuff. And give people the name of the company that you’re the CTO for one more time.

Sean O’Neil (18:20.91)
Yes, it’s Solera Health. Check us out. That’s where we have the platform for digital wellness app.

Kelly J Wendlandt (18:28.303)
That was a great use of technology with that little bubble thing that you just pulled out there. I’m going to figure out how to do that for everyone else out there. Thank you for watching the Vodcast.

Sean O’Neil (18:37.454)
Take care.