In “Five Questions,” Deborah Theobald, CEO and co-founder of Vecna Technologies, a Cambridge-based technology company, discusses the benefits of working with family, her company’s focus on impact and her belief in “using technology to improve the lives of those we touch.”
1. Vecna Technologies has provided advanced patient self-service healthcare solutions for almost 20 years. What role can robots/AI play in creating efficiencies in the healthcare industry?
I am excited about the opportunity through AI to have products that really understand and anticipate the patient’s needs. Slowly, we are incorporating machine learning and empathic computing to help make access, follow up and even payment of healthcare an easier and more humane process. Since Vecna products are platform-based, we continually scan the market for capabilities we can pull in that will improve the patient-as-a-consumer experience: from facial recognition for immediate on-site patient care and assistance, to (predictive) algorithms that help people find and schedule life-improving services, to connecting with the home to anticipate needs and extend caregiver contact.
2. You and your husband, Daniel, are co-founders of Vecna. What are the benefits of working with family members?
The best part of working with my spouse is the comfort of having someone who is “in it” as much as I am. No matter our differences, there is a level of trust that is difficult to replicate with other employees. Now that we have split our companies into Robotics and Healthcare entities and have separate duties, I feel the isolation I have heard other leaders complain about. It makes me appreciate what we were able to create together.
3. Vecna has a strong focus on impact. In fact, you encourage employees to spend 10% of their time focused on community service. Tell us more about Vecna Cares?
Vecna Cares is a formal nonprofit that was born out of our Employee Community Service Program where we pull together employees with similar interests to make an impact together on particular social issues. Vecna Cares focuses on using technology to improve global health. It is amazingly rewarding to see our software and hardware solutions helping to reduce maternal and infant mortality, bring care to rural and resource-poor areas and inform decision-makers on critical needs for the world’s most vulnerable populations.
4. What is your vision for the future of Vecna Technologies?
Our motto is “Better Technology, Better World.” We truly believe in using technology to improve the lives of those we touch. My vision, and where I find joy, is in the process of identifying real-world uses for leading-edge technologies and making that vision a reality.
5. What advice would you give your younger self?
Have fun with things, and don’t worry so much! Although, I really have had a lot of fun!