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Daniela Liggio

Updated: Jan 12

When you trace the arc of Daniela Liggio's career, it beautifully balances the forces of intention and serendipity. While her journey into healthcare might seem unexpected given her background in print and communication, it's evident that she's always been propelled by a desire to be part of something truly impactful. Instead of established corporate giants, she was drawn to the bustling, hands-on world of startups and early-stage companies. Here, she found her niche in business operations, influenced in no small part by her parents who themselves were entrepreneurs.

In 2011, a turning point arrived. Daniela teamed up with a tech-inspired physician with innovative ideas who needed support to implement his thoughts into actionable strategies. Their primary concern was a widespread problem in healthcare: patient adherence to condition and treatment information. The landscape then was stark - a patient would barely retain a fragment of information, often misremembering more than half of it. Their innovative response to this challenge? The creation of an app that bridged this information gap, providing a digital solution to a tangible problem.

Daniela’s introduction to NexJ in 2013 came as a fortuitous opportunity. Recognizing their shared vision to wrap services around a patient in a person-centered way, NexJ decided to acquire the startup in 2014. This acquisition integrated their cutting-edge patient education app into NexJ's suite of services, which emphasized simplifying complex medical jargon into understandable, patient-friendly content using infographics and lay-language information.

Daniela's evolution within the company is nothing short of meteoric. From her beginnings in project management after the acquisition, her leadership skills, tenacity, and passion for innovation propelled her to the role of Vice President of Operations. Then, amidst the global tumult of 2020, she was called upon to take the helm as the President of NexJ Health.

Reflecting on her path, it's evident that Daniela's success doesn't just stem from seizing the right opportunities but also from her unwavering commitment to making a tangible difference in healthcare and in the teams with whom she works. Whether it was collaborating on pioneering tech solutions or leading NexJ Health through the pandemic, Daniela has proven time and again that she not only has the expertise but also the passion to champion meaningful change.

Alignment with the NexJ Mission

Daniela speaks fervently about the company's straightforward yet powerful mission: positively influencing human behavior for better health outcomes. This focus stems from a realization that health behaviors, including aspects like diet, exercise, sleep patterns, and stress management, have a dominant role in determining one's overall health.

Daniela's personal alignment with this mission isn't coincidental. She's always believed that the "in-between moments" of life—the daily choices and routines—make the most profound impact on one's well being. She fondly recalls the values instilled in her during her upbringing: the importance of family dinners where they connected over meals, learning about food and cooking from a young age, and being constantly encouraged to stay active, learn and socialize.

For Daniela, NexJ Health isn't just a workplace. It's an embodiment of her own life's principles. It's rare and heartwarming to find such alignment between personal values and an organization's core mission, but in Daniela's case, the two dovetail perfectly. This synchronicity empowers her to not just lead NexJ Health but to do so with genuine authenticity.

Challenges in the Canadian Market

The journey at NexJ Health has not been without its challenges. The Canadian healthcare system's landscape presents significant roadblocks for private sector players. The system isn’t designed to financially support the kind of transformational changes NexJ Health is aiming to bring. In particular, Daniela has observed a reactive approach to problems rather than a proactive investment into preventative measures.

The management of polychronic diseases presents a multifaceted challenge. One of the significant barriers we face in Canada is the lack of investment in preventative measures. This is not a situation unique to Canada. The U.S. also grapples with similar challenges, though perhaps the intensity differs. However, in Canada, the prevailing attitude seems to lean more towards reactivity than proactivity. For instance, when we confront a surge in diabetes cases, the immediate response is to allocate funds and look for technological solutions to tackle the issue head-on, rather than investigating and investing in methods to prevent its onset in the first place.

Such an approach is disheartening, especially when we consider the multitude of affordable, accessible, and validated models available that focus on prevention. However, the structural setup of our healthcare system does not readily support these preventive measures. This reactive stance not only impedes the efficacy of healthcare but also leads to missed opportunities in maximizing the impact of innovative solutions.

As Daniela reflects, “we have been involved in promising projects aiming to tackle these challenges, but the longevity of such initiatives often faces roadblocks, primarily due to the existing funding models. It's a recurring source of frustration for many in the industry, as these limitations often hinder the expansive potential of such projects.”

Despite their dedication and years of striving to spread their message in Canada, the cyclical wait for funding has been a point of recurring frustration. NexJ has been trapped in a cycle Daniela humorously referred to as "the land of pilots," where short-term investments lead to outcomes, but sustainable funding always seems just out of reach. Even in the midst of these challenges, NexJ Health has published an impressive compendium of clinical evidence in Canada with 27 peer-reviewed articles in leading medical journals.

Recognizing the constraints at home, NexJ Health made the strategic decision to focus their sales efforts predominantly on the U.S market. The emerging shift towards value-based care, emphasizing quality and outcomes, aligned seamlessly with NexJ Health's offerings. While the decision was challenging, it was also a pivotal move for the company, positioning them in a landscape more receptive to their innovative solutions.

NexJ Health’s Successes and Pledge

When asked about a standout achievement within the healthcare realm, Daniela’s perspective offers a refreshing take on success. Rather than pointing to a singular monumental event or project, her pride lies in the cumulative impact of all the projects undertaken by NexJ Health.

Daniela's immense pride also stems from a major initiative that NexJ Health took amidst the global awakening to systemic racism and injustice. Challenged personally, and as a leader, Daniela spearheaded conversations within NexJ Health, conversations that were sometimes uncomfortable but vital. These conversations culminated in the creation of NexJ Health's company pledge, a testament to their commitment to address systemic issues affecting health and livelihood.

The pledge encompasses several key pillars:

  1. Inclusivity in Content: Ensuring that the educational health content they provide is inclusive, culturally appropriate, and resonates with diverse audiences.

  2. Training & Onboarding: Incorporating health equity training for health coaches and staff, focusing on understanding the profound impacts of systemic discrimination and racism on health and society.

  3. Programs for All: Designing programs that not only prevent and manage chronic diseases but are inclusive and cater to everyone, especially those most in need. They work with partners on recruitment strategies to ensure equitable access and take a person-centered approach to foster therapeutic alliances.

  4. Data Collection & Analysis: Their commitment to understanding health inequities is reflected in their thorough collection and analysis of socio-demographic data. By discerning broader issues causing health disparities, they aim to responsibly report and address these gaps.

  5. Diverse Team, United Vision: Celebrating diversity is at the heart of NexJ Health. While the team consists of diverse individuals with varied perspectives, they are united in their objective to deliver differentiated population health outcomes.

NexJ’s Evolution

In the evolving landscape of healthcare technology, Daniela envisions a bright and impactful future for NexJ Health. Drawing from her extensive experience and insights, she believes that NexJ is on its way to becoming an industry leader in the realm of behavior change. But this leadership, she asserts, is not merely derived from their advanced technology. While the purpose-built technology platform, designed specifically for managing polychronic conditions and mental well-being, is undoubtedly a cornerstone, it's the synthesis of this technology with evidence-based approaches to behavior change that truly distinguishes NexJ Health.

When one delves deeper into the offerings of NexJ Health, the company's commitment to research becomes evident. Their single platform adeptly manages multiple chronic conditions, showcasing the versatility and depth of their services. What amplifies their impact even further are the varied service levels provided, each tailored to ensure optimal care and results.

Amidst a sea of contenders in the healthcare technology domain, Daniela firmly believes that NexJ Health's unique blend of technology, research-backed models, and protocols sets them apart as the frontrunner. With an unwavering commitment to excellence and innovation, she sees NexJ Health not just as another player in the space, but as a trailblazer – leading the charge in reshaping behavior change solutions on a global scale.

Other Heroes of Care: Bill Tatham and Camille Orridge

When asked about key leaders who have played an instrumental role in NexJ Health’s trajectory and the broader healthcare ecosystem, Daniela cites two impressive examples: Bill Tatham and Camille Orridge.

Bill is a paradigm of an entrepreneur who is genuinely vested in the well-being of others. From taking care of his team, passionately serving clients, to pioneering groundbreaking technology, his dedication is exemplary. His entire career has been a testament to being at the forefront of technology, persistently waiting for others to rise to the occasion.

Bill's entrepreneurial journey started with NexJ Systems, where he impacted the FinTech space by offering a client-centered view of information. However, it was the personal experience of his wife's breast cancer treatment that brought to light the gaps in the healthcare system. Faced with the recurring challenge of blank clipboards at each hospital visit, Bill saw an opportunity to replicate his success from FinTech in healthcare, leading to the establishment of NexJ Health.

Camille Orridge is a pivotal member of the Board at NexJ Health. Camille stands as an embodiment of dedication to healthcare and social change. After moving to Canada in 1967 from Jamaica, she began her journey in healthcare as a ward maid at Toronto General. Her trajectory culminated in 2010 when she became the CEO of the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network. Camille is not just an administrative figure. She's an ardent champion for social change and health equity.

In the intricate tapestry of healthcare innovation, individual threads of passion, perseverance, and purpose often stand out, but it's their collective weave that creates a lasting impact. Daniela's transformative journey in NexJ Health, accentuated by the guiding lights of Bill Tatham and Camille Orridge, exemplifies this symphony. Together, they not only spotlight the power of vision and dedication but also the undeniable truth that, when channeled effectively, diverse experiences and backgrounds can come together to reshape industries and models of care. As we reflect on Daniela’s accomplishments and the influences in her career, it becomes abundantly clear that it's the fusion of personal values, technological innovation, and visionary leadership that holds the promise of a brighter, more inclusive healthcare future for all.


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