Our next interview in the exclusive Congress series is our conversation with Gabriella Hakim. Gabriella is the CEO and a Co-Founder of VacTrack, one of our start-ups at the Congress! It was exciting to get an insight into the work that she and her team are doing to provide digital solutions to the vaccine community. We also heard more about her experience of leading a start-up into the vaccine industry. We are grateful to Gabriella for her time and energy, and hope you enjoy this perspective.
Gabriella describes VacTrack as a “fully patient-centric” app that “aims to empower individuals to take ownership over their own immunity health”. Through the app your profile is offered “digital storage”, recommendations, reminders, and alerts. It also hosts multiple profiles, which allows parents to track their children’s immunisation schedule as well.
“Improving access, improving adherence, to vaccinations through a digital solution.”
A digital solution
As Gabriella has mentioned, this is a “digital solution” to immunisation. We asked her to tell us more about how this works. Not only can you get information and recommendations, but the app also facilitates booking. By “letting patients take control” of their immunisation schedules, VacTrack are hoping to tackle the “barrier” of lack of information and support. Furthermore, all of this is available “at the tips of [patients’] fingers”.
Education and empowerment
On the subject of barriers, we asked about vaccine hesitancy. Throughout the pandemic we have seen an increase in misinformation and confusion about vaccines, which creates hurdles in the path to immunisation goals. For Gabriella, the key contribution from VacTrack to overcoming vaccine hesitancy is “education”.
“We’ve created a user-friendly experience, that gives you personalised guidance.”
From travel vaccines to routine childhood immunisations, the app “tells you exactly what you need to get and when”.
“So it’s providing and empowering patients with an individualised approach.”
This “individualised approach” cuts through the confusing and sometimes conflicting guidance to offer a personal programme.
Shaking up the system
Although the app sounds incredibly useful and user-friendly, new innovations are hard to implement in established communities. However, innovation is key to progress, so we were keen to hear how receptive Gabriella and her team have found the vaccine world. Is it resistant or open to change?
“It’s been a bit of both”
Gabriella suggests that a lot of people are impressed with the concept and “wish this existed before”! On the other hand, trying to implement the programme is a challenge, and despite meetings with the UK government and the NHS, the team is learning the importance of establishing and nurturing contacts.
“Finding the right contacts is one of the biggest obstacles.”
Luckily, most of Gabriella’s experience so far has been “encouraging”, and we hope that the Congress contributed to this!
Advice for start-ups
As VacTrack joined us in our start-up zone at the Congress, we were interested to hear from Gabriella what she has learnt so far, or how she hopes to build within the vaccine space. Her key message is that “you have to learn to pivot, to be malleable”. She indicates that she has tried to be receptive to advice and constructive criticism to get this far.
What does the Congress offer?
VacTrack is the first start-up we have interviewed, so we were particularly interested to learn what Gabriella was hoping to get from the event. She emphasises the importance of networking. As she has already mentioned, contacts are key for the early and exciting stages of a growing business.
“It’s been a privilege to meet so many amazing, incredible people here .”
It’s great to hear that the Congress facilitates some of these connections.
Thank you so much to Gabriella for her time and insight – we hope that other start-ups or potential partners enjoy the interview! To learn more about VacTrack or get involved, visit their website.
If you are interested in joining the start-up zone at our European event in Barcelona later this year, click here. For start-up opportunities at our West Coast event, click here. Finally, to join us in Washington next year, click here.