Johnson Partners Diversity Series – Danny Hui
Danny Hui is the Community and Advocacy sector winner of the 2020 40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards.
How did an electrical engineer who specialised in disaster management and critical infrastructure operations transition to found a popular tech start-up in the medical industry without looking back? The answer’s easy; he followed his heart. As the primary carer for a son with complex disabilities, Danny was juggling appointments with multiple doctors and therapists at any one time. But his app, Sameview, which stores and shares the medical reports, developments and goals of people with disabilities amongst families and their support networks provided the answer. At a cost of just $199 per annum, it’s become a time saver and life changer for many.
In late October 2020, Danny Hui was awarded the Community and Advocacy sector winner of the 40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards, which addresses the under-representation of young Asian-Australians (under 40 years-old) in senior leadership positions by recognising their achievements in a variety of fields. We caught up with him to discuss his new career challenges and how juggling work and family has in fact become the key focus of his business.
In 2012 your youngest of three children, Monty, was born with a rare neurological disorder. Since then, your middle child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. What key instigators in dealing with both your sons’ treatment and care led you to found Sameview?
Monty’s rare disease impacts him in a few different ways, and because of this we have a team of around 40 different medical specialists, therapists, support workers, and educators that each play an important part in his life. As parents we found co-ordinating Monty’s care, and having every one of those people on the same page to be an extremely difficult task. We wanted to see if technology and better collaboration could reduce the stress and workload for other families while also improving healthcare outcomes.
What ultimately motivated us to start Sameview was that we had seen that in the community there were many long-standing initiatives and organisations supporting families just like mine, each started by prior families that had simply decided to ‘have a go.’ We wanted to be like them too.
Exactly how does Sameview operate and who is eligible to benefit from it?
Sameview is a web-based online platform that allows families or individuals, both young and elderly, to share their story, their goals and aspirations, and connect all of their support network together so that every person is on the same page and working together. In Sameview, many people share things like outcomes from appointments, activities they’re participating in, important events that have happened throughout the day, and what we love seeing the most which is progress towards achieving their goals.
All of this helps people to reduce the amount of times they have to re-tell their story which is both time consuming and traumatic. We make it easy for people to talk about their goals and progress in a much more positive and family inclusive way. Through sharing communication and collaboration between professionals, we hope to help everyone to achieve their goals most effectively.
If the app can capture therapy session videos and photos plus store medical files, how does a patient maintain full control and security over their private information?
One of the most important things in building Sameview has been to focus on the person and their family, aligning the principles of choice and control within our disability ecosystem.
This means that in Sameview families and individuals have full control over who they share their information with, and have the power to change that just as easily they do in changing therapists, support workers, or anyone else supporting them in their lives. All of the information shared by each person remains only within the teams of people they have invited to access their profile.
As an electrical engineer, prior to focusing on Sameview in a full-time capacity, you were an executive in the utilities industry specialising in disaster management, critical infrastructure operations and work health and safety. What are three key skills you acquired or strengthened during this experience that have benefitted Sameview’s managerial operations the most?
To be completely honest when I first started Sameview I felt that I had no transferrable skills as the change from a corporate to a social enterprise start-up environment seemed so great. What I came to realise is that in actual fact all of my capabilities and experiences were just broken down and had to be rebuilt in a completely new environment. I would say that in all aspects my capabilities have been strengthened through working in Sameview, in particular within the areas of innovation, customer feedback, and advocacy.
Sometimes when you work in a corporate environment you don’t get to have many interactions with or be close to the end customer. This is what I’ve valued and enjoyed the most since starting Sameview. Every day I get to talk directly with families, individuals and professionals across the disability community. It is an incredible sector that I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work in.
Currently, Sameview’s platform supports over 1,500 users across Australia and New Zealand. As a digital platform, how do you promote its existence?
While we have an online presence and following, what we’re most proud of is that the majority of people find out about Sameview via word of mouth, either from their friends and family, or their support networks. Integrity and trust are such an important part of sustaining this community. We try to be available as much as possible for people to engage with us in person, virtually, or over the phone.
How challenging has it been over the years securing and maintaining ongoing support, and how has your approach to this crucial ongoing financial element altered to benefit Sameview?
We feel incredibly lucky to have been generously supported by so many great people and companies since we started. Our approach has been to share our story and that of our families, authentically and openly with as many audiences as possible. I think the amount of support we’ve received reflects just how universal the challenges faced by carers that we talk about are.
In regard to ongoing sustainability for Sameview, it is crucial that we can continue to make this positive impact for all families across Australia. We believe strongly in ensuring that we price our app to match equivalent products and services in the non-disability market so every family or individual can benefit from it.
“When I first started Sameview I felt that I had no transferrable skills as the change from a corporate to a social enterprise start-up environment seemed so great. What I came to realise is that in actual fact all of my capabilities and experiences were just broken down and had to be rebuilt in a completely new environment.”
Are there plans to expand Sameview’s global outreach, and if so, to what region/s? Has the Covid pandemic hampered developments given you cannot personally meet with support networks or can you achieve all your goals without travelling?
We’re very proud to be a part of StartUp Health, which is a global movement of health transformers. This global network of support has been so important to our development. Issues around healthcare and challenges for carers are mostly universal and there’s so much we can learn from each other to advance our initiatives.
While our networks are global, we mostly support families in Australia and New Zealand. My priority right now is to improve our service so I can better support more diverse families across Australia.
Within Australia, are families currently getting the best outcomes from your innovation or are those with high English language and technology capabilities the key beneficiaries? As a Chinese-Australian born in Hong Kong are you sympathetic to creating software that better supports families from a non-English speaking background? If so, how is this tracking?
One of the biggest challenges during COVID with the inability to travel is that we haven’t been able to service families as well who find technology or the English language challenging. To do this better we need to be there with them to learn what they need.
What we know is that making a service work well for people from different cultural backgrounds require more than just translation itself. As organisations are coming out of COVID we’ve started to collaborate with those that support specific cohorts.
Navigating the world of disability supports can be so challenging and my hope is that we can be there as early as possible for every family no matter what their background, and support them to be in a position where they are confident in being able to state their own aspirations, find the right supports, and have those people work effectively together to achieve them.
Does the app aid lower income level families who struggle to meet the costs to provide the best care for their family members or colleagues? If so, how?
Within Australia and New Zealand we price and provide our service so that you can use Sameview no matter what scheme you may be supported under. For anyone without this financial support though we ensure that every person that would like to use Sameview has access to it regardless.
Lastly, what’s the biggest challenge Sameview faces over the next three years?
As mentioned we’re focused on expanding our social impact to include more families, particularly those from different cultural backgrounds across our country. It’s also important for us to find accurate means to show the value and impact that better collaboration has for people with disabilities and their families.