writes copy 10 Oct 2017

Working Geek: Swatee Surves startup uses video games to help people manage chronic health conditions

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Litesprite founder and CEO Swatee Surve. (Litesprite Photo)

Swatee Surve is reimagining the way patients manage chronic health conditions and keep their healthcare providers up-to-date. That’s the mission of her startup, Litesprite, which helps users manage illnesses with video games.

Surve spent years in corporate research labs for companies like Nike and Microsoft, where she developed healthcare-focused innovations and business models. She wanted to use her experience at the intersection of technology and health to create something that would help people. Surve began researching ways that technology could encourage patients to stay motivated about treatment and discovered that games had a proven track-record for improving outcomes.

“There were no commercialization efforts,” she said. “In my mind, an end-to-end system approach '“ an effective marriage of technology that strengthens the patient-clinician relationship '“ was the key to making transformative change. Seeing this as an opportunity, I launched Litesprite.”

Litesprite’s first product is Sinasprite, a game that helps users manage stress, anxiety, and depression. The game has mindfulness activities and opportunities to report on what a user is feeling. That information allows the healthcare provider to monitor and assess a patient’s wellbeing and progress remotely.

Sinasprite is the first game to win a U.S. Surgeon General Award, Surve says.

We caught up with Surve for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location:  Bellevue, WA

Computer types:  Mac & Windows. I have to use Mac right now for our product development.

Mobile devices:  iPhone. My favorite phone has been the HTC One m8.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools:  Evernote, Pipedrive, Doodle, Office Lens (I've been testing this one and it's great to scan business cards).

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you?  “My favorite spot, especially in the mornings, is my lounge chair by my window. I can soak up the sun and it's very relaxing while working. In the winter, I can warm my feet by turning on the fireplace.”

Surve’s favorite place to work.

Your best advice for managing everyday work and life?  “I like to plan things in advance so I try to eliminate as many last-minute requests as possible. I found that was one biggest source of unnecessary disruption and stress. So with external partners, I started setting expectations that we need at least 1-2 weeks advance notice. That evened out workflow and reduced a lot of the randomization and chaos '“ it allowed us to plan, reply thoughtfully, and gave us the space to be responsive for when truly urgent issues arose. This also made our partners plan more thoughtfully and it eliminated fabricated or self-induced emergencies.

I make time for myself '“ even if it's 30 minutes '“ every day. I usually workout. I try to have a more extended period of time during the week, at least one day, where I am not thinking about work and can disconnect from electronics and recharge '“ even if it's doing things on my personal to-do list. Otherwise, I find I burn myself out.”

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work?  “Facebook. I am part of a lot of private closed Facebook professional groups. We share interviews, speaking engagements, and investment opportunities. We also exchange experiences as well.”

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox?  In my work inbox, more than 4,000. My personal email, it is five times worse.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week?  12

How do you run meetings?  “I run team meetings informally. Before we start, I review the agenda with the participants and then ask if there is anything they want to add. If we don't get through everything, it gets added to the next week. If it's important, we go through all the items and the meeting will go over. If I know it's going to be a long meeting, I let people know in advance.”

Everyday work uniform?  Pajamas

How do you make time for family?  “I block it out on my calendar '“ especially weekends. I typically won't work through them unless it's necessary.”

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug?  “Hiking. I love going out into nature where there is no cell service and the scenery smacks you in the face and reminds you of your humanity.”

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters?  “Lately, I've been finding my LinkedIn news feed has some of the best industry information. I also look over the MedCity News and FierceWireless email newsletters.”

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)?  Invisible Influence and True Grit. My friend just gave me “Real Love” so I've started reading that.

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns?  Both, since I have to cover East Coast clients and our developer team in India.

Where do you get your best ideas?  My best ideas are either when I am away from the computer '“ usually hiking or cooking. Or it is when I am discussing things with my teams.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate?  Probably Dave Chase, Dan Lewis, or Spencer Rascoff.

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