We have built the dream team at PreventScripts. Between our co-founders, advisors and investors, we are equipped to take on the challenge of helping primary care providers increase revenue by preventing disease.
Meet our expert advisor, Emily Lilo.
Tell me a little about your background?
I grew up from age 10-18 in Bolivia. This really shaped my life, because it exposed me to a whole new perspective on the world, including new cultures, new places, and to the vast injustices of the world. This really set me on a path of being interested in making the world a better place. Then, I came back to the US for college and my other degrees. I completed a master’s degree in international health at BU and then spent the next 10 years doing community engaged chronic and non-communicable disease prevention research in the US. Doing public health work in the US, particularly in the Bay Area of California, which has some of the largest income disparities of anywhere in the US, made me realize that I didn’t need to be in a developing country to see poverty and inequity, I just had to step into my own backyard. After working at Stanford for 4 years, I moved to New Mexico, where I worked as an Associate Scientist at the UNM Prevention Research Center while doing my PhD in Health Communication. Working in New Mexico showed me the challenges of providing good healthcare in extremely rural, remote, and underserved areas of the country, and highlighted the importance of strong prevention and public health programs aimed at keeping people healthy rather than curing them once they are sick. While in New Mexico, I also had the opportunity to dig into designing and implementing health campaigns as well as to build a strong evaluation skillset, all of which have gone on to serve me well, first as an Assistant Professor, which I did for two years in Oregon, and then in my current role designing and implementing health campaigns for HIV prevention at CDC.
What do you love the most about your work?
I love knowing that I am changing the world. I love knowing that the work I am doing is making a difference in reducing health disparities, increasing health equity, and improving the potential for everyone to have a fair shot at living a healthy life. It doesn’t matter if you are focusing on diabetes prevention or HIV prevention, or focusing on teenagers or senior citizens, the principles are the same. You have to understand what makes people tick, what stands in their way from being their best selves, and then you figure out how to design strategies to help them get there, to provide the tools, and empower them to feel that they can make a change for the better.
How did you get involved in working with PreventScripts?
Brandi and I were in our MPH program together at BU, and we kept in touch. She reached out to me several times over the years for input on health communication resources and tools, and eventually asked if I would be interested in helping with PreventScripts. I was honored to be asked, and thought it sounded like a lot of fun, since it’s such a great idea that so closely aligns with my values, and it bridges the gap between medicine and public health, something which we sorely need.
What do you like about what PreventScripts is building?
In a word, everything. As I said above, I like how it is bridging the gap between public health and medicine, acknowledging that we know that providers don’t have the time or the training they need to be able to provide good preventive strategies on a mass scale, but public health people with the tech skills can help with that. I love that it is finding ways to make prevention the norm for both patients and providers, since we, as a society, have spent far too much time focusing on curing rather than preventing, a strategy that is more costly, less effective, and harder for people. I mean, why on earth would you want to wait until someone has diabetes or hypertension to try to do something? Why wouldn’t you start by helping people to make small gradual changes to their eating habits, physical activity levels, stress levels and sleep to make them just feel better in general, all of which also happen to have the side effect of preventing chronic disease? To me, wellness or “being healthy” isn’t just the absence of illness, it is also about actually feeling good, and the PreventScripts model starts from the prevention place, which means not only will we be keeping people from getting sick, we will be making them feel better than they currently do, in ways that make them believe that they can do it!
What keeps you up at night?
You mean, besides COVID, extreme inequity, racial injustice, climate change and everything else we are dealing with right now as a country? Probably the fact that on our current trajectory, there will be a 54% increase in diabetes diagnoses in the US between 2015-2030, meaning roughly 1 in 6 people will have it by 2030. And this is just one example. Numbers for chronic diseases across the board are skyrocketing. We, as country, have done well over the past 100 years in reducing the risks from communicable diseases (aside from COVID-19), but this generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents because our diets, exercise habits, and living conditions are killing us slowly. But, the good news is, that it is totally, totally preventable. There are literally small changes each of us can be making every day, and big changes policy makers and others could be putting in place to help with those small changes (such as improving school lunch requirements, improving the built environment in neighborhoods so that there are more places for physical activity and safer streets, having shorter work weeks so that people can be active and destress, and so on) that could turn the tide on all of this. We don’t need to discover a cure, we already have it, it’s prevention, and it’s something we can all have a part in.