Sylvie Leotin

Founder and CEO, Equify Health
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Sylvie Leotin, the founder of Equify Health, is a cancer survivor and woman of color with a unique background in art, science, technology, anthropology, and human-centered design. After experiencing poor care during her cancer journey, she drew from her extensive experience to re-appraise the patient experience through a humanistic lens. During this process, she discovered healthcare providers were not fully aware of the barriers to inclusive, quality care. Drawing on her multicultural and multidisciplinary expertise, she was able to identify these barriers and develop solutions to address them. 

Sylvie believes that to successfully reverse healthcare disparities, we need to see them as a human experience problem instead of a data problem. Equify Health combines community-based research, multidisciplinary design practices, and provider education to deliver transformative systemic solutions to healthcare inequities.

As a cancer survivor, woman of color, and ethnography veteran, Sylvie possesses unparalleled insight into the problems faced by marginalized patients in healthcare. She uses her platform to amplify unseen stories and inspire others to join the quest to build a more inclusive future. Pulling from her inspirational personal journey, multidisciplinary skillset, and innovation expertise, Sylvie brings a mix of passion, illumination, and vision to every stage. She is a sought-after speaker whose experience ranges from delivering keynote speeches at Fortune 500 companies and national medical conferences to lecturing at some of the nation’s leading medical schools.

Sylvie has written academic, editorial, and creative work for numerous publications. She penned an incisive op-ed on the patient experience of healthcare disparities which was published in STAT News and reprinted in Emory Medicine Magazine. Her article in the Journal of Patient Experience documenting her journey through radiation therapy through the eyes of a human-centered designer has been downloaded over 2,000 times. 

The biotechnology leader Genentech recognized Sylvie’s significant promise to advance health equity by awarding her a $750,000 innovation grant to pilot an innovative solution to cancer disparities with the Emory School of Medicine. The pilot was successful, and Genentech awarded her a subsequent $1 Million grant to expand her solution to other specialties and healthcare institutions.

Before founding Equify Health, Sylvie was the CEO of Tech Atelier, a multidisciplinary consultancy that advised venture-backed startup companies on product and marketing strategy. In that role, she served as interim Vice President of Marketing for several startup companies and led innovation workshops to help entrepreneurs design products that elevate customer experiences. Sylvie has also worked with innovation giants like NASA, Oracle, and Google. 
 
Sylvie’s distinguished polymathic career crosses industries, disciplines, continents, and cultures. She is a gold-medal-winning ballerina and was the first woman researcher at Stanford Robotics Laboratory. Sylvie earned an MS in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University, an MS in Computer Science from INSIEE, and undergraduate degrees in mathematics, dance, and music. She currently serves on a Planning Committee with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM.)

Topics

Humanizing Healthcare Disparities

Despite an increase in funding for health equity, we have not been able to make significant progress in reducing health disparities. One of the gaps impeding progress is a lack of patient perspectives. Attempting to address health disparities without understanding the patient's experience is like diagnosing an illness without knowing the patient's medical history. Effective solutions to health inequities require a holistic understanding of the lived experiences of underserved patients, a fundamental principle of human-centered design. In her thought-provoking talk, Sylvie Leotin, the founder of Equify Health, reveals how dehumanization perpetuates healthcare disparities. Drawing from her personal experience, grant research, and expertise in human experience design, she sheds light on unseen drivers of healthcare disparities degrading patient safety and outcomes.

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Health Equity: The Importance of Understanding the Patient Journey

Although funding for health equity has increased considerably over the years, we have not made significant progress in reducing healthcare disparities. Sylvie Leotin’s literature review revealed that health equity research is largely missing patients’ perspectives. Attempting to fix health disparities without understanding the patient experience is like diagnosing an illness without knowing a patient’s history. Only by taking the time to comprehend the feelings, unmet needs, and viewpoints of underserved and marginalized individuals can we begin to design solutions that work for them. Our solutions should strive to eliminate the additional physical, emotional, and psychological pain marginalized people experience when accessing healthcare. In this powerful talk, Sylvie Leotin, the founder of Equify Health, shares her deeply personal journey from cancer patient to healthcare innovator crusading to help providers address the hidden suffering endured by patients with serious illnesses. Her firsthand experience, academic research, and expertise in creating transformative learning opportunities provide inspiration for anyone striving to improve outcomes for all patients.

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The Power of Purpose: Turning Obstacles into Fuel for Good

What could you turn your experience into? Every day, we are all met with varying levels of heartbreak, trauma, triumph, and fear. How we respond to challenges often shapes the course of our lives. Purpose is what helps us navigate change and motivates us to brave our fears. It can serve as a powerful life compass because it connects us to what really matters. Sylvie Leotin, a trailblazing innovator, gold medal ballerina, technologist, and founder of Equify Health, has done just that. She shares how she transformed the trauma and struggles of her cancer journey into a mission to improve healthcare for millions of patients. Her talk is a powerful call to action for audiences to lead with passion and seek significance in their work.

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Creating Win-Win Healthcare Experiences to Improve Outcomes for All

Public trust in healthcare is dwindling, particularly among minorities. This erosion of trust, combined with persistent healthcare disparities, further exacerbates outcomes. Additionally, the number of American physicians experiencing burnout has almost doubled in recent years. It's perplexing how a healthcare system that spends at least twice as much as any other country can fall short for so many patients and providers. What measures can we take to address these issues? Sylvie Leotin, a seasoned innovator, successful entrepreneur, and founder of Equify Health, brings new thinking and tools to these entrenched, systemic problems. Motivated to create transformative change after medical failures marked her cancer journey, Sylvie’s unique approach follows her unorthodox career path. From professional ballerina to scientist to tech innovator and human needs champion, Sylvie is transforming patient-provider experiences to rebuild trust, reinvigorate purpose, and improve outcomes. Her talk offers an innovative perspective and insights on how to improve healthcare for everyone.

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Videos

Patient Provider Relationships, Culture and Communication
Sylvie Leotin

Books

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Articles

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My Breast Cancer Experience Has Led Me to Leverage My Expertise in Human-Centered Design to Transform Patient Care
The ASCO Post
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Equify Health Receives $1 Million Grant to Launch Transformative Education Workshop to Accelerate Health Care Equity
Equify Health
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Health for All Innovator Sylvie Leotin to Keynote National Cancer Institute's Health Disparities Symposium
Equify Health
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Equify Health CEO Sylvie Leotin to Keynote American Society Transplantation 2023 Summit
Equify Health
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How To Be A Mission-Driven Entrepreneur
Christopher Lochhead
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Factoring in patients’ experiences is essential for moving the needle on health disparities
Stat News
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An Insider View of the Cancer Radiation Experience Through the Eyes of a Cancer Patient
Sage Journals
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Reexamine: Moving the Needle on Health Disparities
Emory University Magazine

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Health Innovation
Health Equity
Activism & Advocacy
Race
Social Determinants of Health
Patient-Centered Care
The Patient Perspective
Health Policy
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