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Double benefit: reducing nurse burnout and improving patient care 

An industry opportunity inspires health care startup PatientCompanion  

Student Founder Spotlight

Volunteering at hospitals and long-term care centres, Christy Lee spotted a significant stressor impacting nurses: a stream of flashing lights across the hallway signifying a patient needing assistance. But there was no way of knowing the request’s urgency. 

“I have volunteered for over two years and experienced first-hand the constant number of lights flashing across the hallway,” Christy says adding that approximately 56 per cent of patient requests are non-medical such as asking for blankets or food and water. 

Witnessing this inefficiency, she was inspired to act and co-founded PatientCompanion with Ethan Alvizio and Valerie Liu. 

PatientCompanion is an app that allows patients to make specific requests, differentiating between non-urgent and urgent ones. The communication tool can be uploaded to existing hospital infrastructure and automatically prioritizes tasks for staff based on severity, aiming to both reduce workloads and help improve the patient experience. It empowers nurses with the information they need to best respond to patient requests in a timely manner. 

Combining her time volunteering at hospitals and long-term care centres and speaking directly to nurses has allowed for Christy to not only validate her product but also address challenges between nurses and patients. 

“I have spoken with over 140 nurses to discover the pain points in their daily processes and have made changes to the app so that patients do not have to sign up or install anything on personal devices,” Christy says. “We’ve aimed to remove as much initial friction as possible.” 

PatientCompanion was one of four winners of the Winter 2024 Velocity Pitch Competition. The founders credit Velocity with providing the guidance and funds to get their pilots up and running, and making many connections with medical institutions. 

 “Velocity has a network of founders which has helped us learn from their previous experiences.” 

Christy Lee co-founder PatientCompanion

Christy also credits the entrepreneurial network at University of Waterloo such as Velocity, GreenHouse and Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business with resources that can help early-stage founders. 

The founder trio’s long-term vision is to expand into other areas of patient care, improve various aspects by empowering healthcare professionals with the information needed to serve patients best. 

Working on an idea of startup? Velocity helps University of Waterloo Students make a real-world impact.