Johego Wins $200,000 Missouri Expansion Contract

I am delighted and honored to announce that Johego has secured a $200,000 contract with Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) to expand our services for the next two years to the more than 4.3 million Missourians living in MFH territory — including St. Louis!

Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) Service Areas

MFH has been an invaluable supporter of Johego throughout our history, including during the initial pilot study of our smartphone application in Northeast Missouri as well as during our subsequent expansion throughout Northeast, Central, and Southwest Missouri, among other critical moments. It’s not an overstatement that we would not have been able to make it this far without their support.

What does this opportunity mean for Johego and for those we serve?

1.) Geographic Expansion: As mentioned previously, we will expand the geographic coverage of Johego’s social and medical service directory for two years throughout the entire Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) service area, which includes 84 Missouri counties plus the City of St. Louis.

2.) Automated Onboarding: We will develop search engine, app store, and Google Ads optimization processes so that, in a free and automated fashion, more people throughout the state will be able to find out about social and medical services listed in our directory more easily.

3.) Search Augmentation: We will develop additional functionalities for more efficient searches of our social and medical service directory, including multi-language searching support for the more than 340,000 Missouri residents who speak a non-English language at home.

4.) Data Dashboard: We will create a data dashboard for MFH and other trusted partners to illustrate the when, where, and what of social and medical service referrals, the supply of such services, and more. This dashboard will help our partners more efficiently allocate their resources, apply for grants, conduct research, and investigate concerns about a particular social need or region.

Want to get involved with our expansion?

There are a few main ways to help us connect people in need with the social and medical services they need. Using the form below, you can sign up to:

  • Download the Johego smartphone application on iOS or Android when we expand to your area,
  • Host a free, in-person training session for Johego software at your nonprofit or government agency,
  • Serve as a beta tester of our volunteer platform still under development, and/or
  • Help us find a data engineer to add to our team on a full-time basis.

If any or all of those opportunities interest you, please fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can:

Please select each of the following that apply:
I want to download the Johego smartphone application when you expand to my area.I want to host a free, in-person training session for Johego software at my nonprofit or government agency.I want to volunteer to help Johego expand to my area.I know, or I am, a data engineer interested in working for Johego.

In the meantime, I want to reiterate my thanks to Missouri Foundation for Health for supporting our expansion at this critical stage in Johego’s development. We’re particularly excited to share our services with our adopted home of St. Louis, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted throughout the next few months as we prepare to scale our operations.

— Michael

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The $100,000,000,000 Problem

This is the first entry in a three-part series about the past, present, and future of social and medical service referral in the United States.

The social safety net is inefficient and ineffective. Admittedly, that’s not a particularly novel or actionable observation, but did you know that the United States spends more than $100 billion every year just in the time it takes to connect people in need with social and medical services?1 (That doesn’t include the cost of actually providing such services.) To put this into perspective, for about $100 billion, the United States could pursue a wide variety of notable programs.2

Johego | What Can $100B/yr Buy

It’s actually worse than that. The $100 billion figure cited above includes only professionals in the social service, healthcare, and education sectors: it does not include social and medical service referrals made by police officers, firefighters, attorneys, and other public service professionals not included in our survey. Moreover, it does not fully capture referral-related administrative duplication that exists across these sectors.

Because there does not yet exist a sufficiently comprehensive and reliable directory of social and medical services, public service professionals must rely on word of mouth recommendations, online search engines, and printed paper directories as primary sources of information.3 Such inefficacy is harmful to those in need and those who serve them: a feeling of professional inefficacy is one of three primary dimensions of burnout, a widespread occurrence among nurses and social workers. As a result, many nonprofits create their own in-house directories, resulting in significant duplication of administrative efforts. Benetech, a MacArthur Genius-led nonprofit technology company, studied eleven such directories in and near the San Francisco Bay Area. Here is what they found:

Benetech Service Net Analysis Benetech Service Net Analysis

Meanwhile, despite tremendous investments of time, talent, and treasure, many are struggling. Over one in five American children live in poverty, over 21 million Americans experience addiction, and over half a million Americans are homeless.

Why hasn’t this been solved? Various groups (such as 2-1-1, Aunt Bertha, and Healthify) have attempted to collect and share information about social and medical services. However, maintaining large or detailed directories is technically challenging and expensive: fundamentally, the only way to reliably verify information about a service provider is by asking them directly, typically via a phone call. Benetech estimates that it costs as much as $140 to collect information about just one service provider. Freely shared information faces free-rider pressures, and paywalled information competes with “free” resources previously mentioned: word-of-mouth recommendations, online search engines, and printed paper directories.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. In our next post, we will describe how Johego has designed, developed, and validated at scale an innovative data pipeline for collecting and verifying information about social and medical services — one that is reducing the time required to make service referrals as well as the need for creating in-house directories. Until our next post, if you want to know more about our work, you can follow us on social media or sign up for our email newsletter:

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As always, thank you for your support!

– Michael

Sources & Calculations:

1.) $100B+/yr Referrals. In 2017, Johego surveyed 24 professionals from the social service, healthcare, and education sectors who, as a regular or occasional part of their work, refer people to social and medical services. We asked them to report the number of people they typically refer to social and medical services each week as well as how much time they typically spend making such referrals. The following is a summary of their responses:

Sectorn = 24People/WeekHours/Week
Community and Social Services11126.5
Healthcare79.42.9
Education611.5

Then, using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, we determined the number of professionals in each sector as well as the median wage of professions within each sector, as follows:

CategoryOccupationCountMedian Wage
Community & Social ServicesSocial Workers649,300$22.07
Health Educators and Community Health Workers115,700$21.08
Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists168,200$20.77
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists91,700$23.73
Rehabilitation Counselors120,100$16.54
School and Career Counselors273,400$25.8
Social and Human Service Assistants386,600$14.82
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors94,900$19.22
Social and Community Service Managers138,500$30.54
Clergy48,250$21.27
Childcare Workers1,260,600$9.77
Personal Care Aides1,768,400$10.09
EducationPreschool Teachers441,000$13.74
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors64,000$21.96
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers1,517,400$26.23
Middle School Teachers627,500$26.86
High School Teachers961,600$27.5
Postsecondary Teachers1,313,000$34.84
Postsecondary Education Administrators175,100$42.59
Special Education Teachers450,700$27.31
Instructional Coordinators151,100$29.94
Career and Technical Education Teachers231,800$25.38
Adult Literacy and High School Equivalency Diploma Teachers77,500$24.17
Teacher Assistants1,234,100$11.97
Librarians143,100$27.35
Library Technicians and Assistants210,700$13.43
HealthcareMedical and Health Services Managers333,000$45.43
EMTs and Paramedics241,200$15.38
Home Health Aides348,400$10.54
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses719,900$20.76
Medical Assistants591,300$14.71
Medical Records and Health Information Technicians188,600$17.84
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners170,400$50.36
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies1,545,200$12.36
Physician Assistants94,400$47.2
Physicians and Surgeons708,300$90.
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides145,200$13.61
Recreational Therapists18,600$22.06
Registered Nurses2,751,000$32.45
TotalPublic Service Professionals20,569,750

With such information, we were able to estimate the total number of professionals in each sector as well as the average median wage within each sector. Then, assuming that our survey respondents are typical of their sectors, we calculated the total baseline wages required for social and medical referrals made each year. Finally, we multiplied the total baseline wages required by 1.4 to account for benefits, payroll taxes, and general organizational expenses associated with such labor.

2.) $100B+/yr Equivalent. The Marshall Plan cost ~$103 billion over four years (~$26B/yr). The Apollo Space Program cost ~$107 billion over twelve years (~$9B/yr). Providing improved water and sanitation throughout the globe would cost ~$23B/yr. Eliminating homelessness in the United States would cost ~$5B/yr. Doubling federal expenditures on academic research and development (R&D) would cost ~$39B/yr. Taken together, pursuing these programs would cost ~$102B/yr, which is ~$4B/yr less than our conservative estimate of the annual cost of social and medical service referrals in the United States.

3.) Referral Sources. In 2017, Johego surveyed 24 professionals from the social service, healthcare, and education sectors who, as a regular or occasional part of their work, refer people to social and medical services. When asked to identify the primary source(s) of information for completing such referrals, 21 respondents (88%) selected word-of-mouth recommendations, 18 respondents (75%) selected online search engines (e.g. Google), and 14 respondents (58%) selected printed paper directories. These were the three most commonly selected categories.

In order to better inform the public about some of the difficulties involved with navigating the social safety net, we are collecting stories from people who, in their personal or professional capacity, have struggled to connect themselves or a friend, family member, or colleague with social or medical services. If you have a story you can share, we would like to hear from you!

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Johego Wins Catalyst Fund Award

What do Johego, Star Trek, and King Abdullah II of Jordan have in common?

We’ve all benefited from the creative genius of Gene Roddenberry, a World War II pilot and LAPD officer who created the original Star Trek television series. An avid Trekkie, King Abdullah II (then a prince) appeared as an uncredited extra in a 1996 episode. For our part, I am thrilled to report that Johego has received a grant from the Roddenberry Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that was established by Gene’s son Rod “to build on his father’s legacy and philosophy of inclusion, diversity, and respect for life to drive social change and meaningfully improve the lives of people around the world.”

Gene Roddenberry (third from the right) in 1976 with some of the Star Trek cast at the rollout of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in Palmdale, CA.
Gene Roddenberry (third from the right) in 1976 with some of the Star Trek cast at the rollout of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in Palmdale, CA.

Our proposal was motivated by two key observations:

  • In the US, it is easier to reserve a ticket for a movie than secure overnight shelter, mental health treatment, or other critical services — largely because of a lack of reliable information about such services.
  • Meanwhile, research has shown that over 90% of Americans want to volunteer yet only 25% do so, often because volunteer schedules are inflexible, volunteer tasks are uninteresting, or potential volunteers are never asked in the first place.

Thanks to funding from the Roddenberry Foundation, Johego will begin to help tackle these challenges simultaneously by creating a online platform through which volunteers can help collect and verify information about social and medical services that, in turn, will help people in need connect with those services more easily. Through this initiative, Johego will empower anyone with a phone and an Internet connection to make a meaningful difference in their community, no matter their location, schedule, or skill level.

Our work is being funded through the Catalyst Fund, a grant program “focused on early-stage, unconventional ideas that have the potential for disruptive change.” We are honored to have earned the support of the Roddenberry family, and we are thrilled to contribute our efforts to “disrupt existing dynamics, challenge old patterns of thought, and discover new ways to help us move towards a better future.” We look forward to keeping you posted as well roll out this new program in the coming months.

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Introducing #HumansOfJohego

When I started working on Johego full-time, I was living in West Lafayette, Indiana. Shortly thereafter, I decided to sign up for Indiana’s inexpensive Medicaid program, which was much more difficult than I imagined: I’ve graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from Stanford University, and I needed an entire day of undistracted effort to successfully enroll. I can only imagine how much harder it would have been if I were a single, working parent without the benefits of my education and flexible schedule.

Since then, I’ve learned that it’s not just members of the general public who struggle to efficiently navigate the social safety net but also nurses, social workers, police officers, and other public service professionals. Such inefficiency can be frustrating to those in need and harmful those who serve them: a feeling of professional inefficacy is one of three primary dimensions of burnout, a widespread occurrence among nurses and social workers.

In order to better inform the public about how people navigate the social safety net, we are pleased to present #HumansOfJohego, a social media hashtag we will be using to help promote of a series of stories on that subject. Here is our first installment in that series from one of our supporters:



Photo: First Installment of #HumansOfJohego
First Installment of #HumansOfJohego

“I am a Social Worker in the Emergency Department of a very large hospital. Multiple times throughout the day I am asked to provide community resources to patients. The resource most commonly requested is shelter resources. The homeless population in St. Louis is large and there are limited shelters. I worked with an elderly man that is homeless last week. I provided him with a list of homeless shelters in the area from two different websites. It took him several hours to call all of the agencies on the two lists because some did not answer, some were no longer open, or said he would have to call back at another time. Ultimately the patient was not able to find shelter for the night. It would be beneficial for both people seeking resources and social service providers if there was a centralized place with real time data about resources in the community. In my experience most of the websites for resources that are utilized in community are out of date. One resource that I use daily is only updated one time a year, so there are often agencies that have closed or no longer provide services that remain listed until the book is updated. This can be disheartening to people seeking services.”



In the future, we will be posting these stories exclusively on social media, so we encourage you to follow us on any of the following platforms:

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If you or a friend, family member, or colleague have experienced challenges navigating the social safety net, we want to hear from you. You can visit the following link to learn more, including how to share your story:

#HumansOfJohego

Thank you for your interest and your support!

– Michael



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Holiday PSA: Put Down the Smartphone

What do you want to pay attention to
Image Credit: PhoneBreakup.com

Smartphone addiction is a severe and insidious public health challenge: the average smartphone user taps, swipes, and clicks their device 2,617 times each day during 76 separate sessions. In the short term, these sessions significantly reduce productivity: on average, it takes 25 minutes to return a task after an interruption. It can also reduce our emotional presence. As one author described her experience:

“I had recently had a baby and was feeding her in a darkened room as she cuddled on my lap. It was an intimate, tender moment — except for one detail. She was gazing at me … and I was on eBay, scrolling through listings for Victorian-era doorknobs.”

In the long term, problematic cell-phone use has been associated with negative cumulative outcomes, including “sleep disturbance, anxiety, stress, and, to a lesser extent, depression.”

Our collective addiction to our smartphones is not an entirely natural phenomenon but rather is very much a consequence of deliberate design decisions: for example, at my alma mater Stanford University, the Persuasive Technology Lab teaches “the psychology of behavior change, such as how clicker training for dogs, among other methods of conditioning, can inspire products for people. For example, rewarding someone with an instantaneous ‘like’ after they post a photo can reinforce the action, and potentially shift it from an occasional to a daily activity.”

average vs. heavy user phone usage per day
Image Credit: dscout.com

Johego, despite having developed a smartphone application for iOS and Android, is committed to helping combat cellphone addiction. Johego’s mission is to make connecting people in need with essential medical and social services as easy as finding showtimes for movies. Such connections will only occur when people notice and act upon such needs, which requires intellectual and emotional presence.

So, to close, here are a few simple things you can start doing during the holiday season to limit your smartphone usage:

  • Eliminate notifications for your most commonly used apps (on Android or iOS), especially social media.
  • Uninstall any app you do not strictly need (on Android or iOS), including those services you can access from your desktop or laptop computer — or from your smartphone Internet browser.
  • Place your phone away from you facedown when you are not using it, particularly when you are at work or in social settings.

In the meantime, we wish you safe and happy holidays!

– Michael

What do you want to pay attention to?
Image Credit: PhoneBreakup.com

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Introducing Johego Version 2.0

I am delighted to announce that Johego has released a major update to our smartphone application on iOS and Android, and that we are supporting a browser-based equivalent that can be accessed through a laptop or desktop computer! As with our previous releases, anyone may use our software for free and any verified social or medical service provider may be listed in our directory for free.

Johego Version 2.0 New Features

You may download Johego’s free smartphone application on iOS and Android here:

You may run Johego on a web browser (such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari) by clicking here:

Try Johego on your web browser

As of this writing, Johego is now available to around one million Missourians, in the counties outlined in bold black ink below:

Johego Geographic Coverage Map November 2018

If you know any social workers, police officers, nurses, teachers, pastors, or anyone else in our coverage area who may be in a position to connect people in need with social and medical services, I encourage you to pass this information along to them. The more people that have our technology literally at their fingertips, the harder it will be for people in need to slip through the cracks.

This release would not have been possible without the generous support of Missouri Foundation for Health as well as that of our donors, volunteers, and allies. I want to extend a special thank you to Krushna Kamtekar and Michael Goldman, who joined Johego in January and have been working on this update ever since. As a solo, non-technical founder, I placed a tremendous amount of trust in their ability to strengthen and streamline our technology from the ground up, and I have not been disappointed. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to build on their great work, expanding to new regions and helping more people more easily find the services they need.

— Michael Kehoe

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Johego Version 1.0: A Retrospective

Bill Gates observed that “we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” I have been thinking a lot about that quote as Johego prepares to launch Version 2.0 of our software in the coming days, and I wanted to use this opportunity to share just how far we’ve come.

Two years ago, I had recently completed 16 online courses in data science and full-stack web development, and I was in the middle of Square One Boot Camp, an outstanding entrepreneurship training program based out of the Center for Emerging Technologies. A few months later, Johego secured a $4,732.26 contract with Families and Communities Together to develop, pilot, and release a smartphone application on iOS and Android to help social workers, nurses, and other public service professionals in Northeast Missouri more efficiently connect people in need with social and medical services, such as overnight shelter and addiction treatment.

The result was Johego Version 1.0, code-named Calm Dawn, which was launched in six counties around Hannibal, MO. In the 18 months since its launch, our software has been used thousands of times to help people find a wide variety of social and medical services:

Johego Version 1.0 by the Numbers

In the meantime, thanks to a ~$270,000 contract with Missouri Foundation for Health, Johego has been diligently preparing to launch Version 2.0 of our software in 18 additional counties across Northeast, Central, and Southwest Missouri, bringing our geographic coverage to the counties outlined in the map below:

Johego Geographic Coverage Map November 2018

If you are a social worker, nurse, police officer, or other public servant in one of the outlined counties, and if you would like to sign up for a free virtual or in-person training session for our new software, please send us a message using the contact form below:

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We are proud of our accomplishments over the past two years, and we are so excited to begin a new phase in our development. Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way.

— Michael

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Johego Secures $220,000 Donation from Google

Updated August 24, 2018: I’m pleased announce that Johego has secured an in-kind donation of technology and services from Google worth more than $220,000. Their generous donation includes, among other things:

  • Google Cloud Computing credits, which we will be using for our machine learning, natural language processing, and speech-to-text conversion activities.
  • Google Ad credits, which will help us drive traffic to our website and increase downloads of our smartphone application on iOS and Android.
  • Recruiting assistance through the Hire by Google platform, which will help us grow our team.
  • Invitations to various online and in-person training courses and networking opportunities.

As with our donations from Heroku and Amazon, we were able to secure the donation thanks to connections we made through StartX, the global business accelerator Johego is participating in this summer. With only one week left in the program, I’m excited to see if we can secure any other partnerships!

– Michael

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Johego Wins $55,000 Donation from Amazon

Good news! Johego just received $55,000 in free credits and technical consulting services from Amazon, which is the largest provider of cloud computing services in the world.

As with our grant from Heroku, we were able to secure the donation thanks to connections we made through StartX, the global business accelerator Johego is participating in this summer. With only a few weeks left in the program, I’m excited to see what other partnerships we can secure! I will be sure to keep you posted!

– Michael

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Johego Wins $100,000 Donation from Heroku

Johego Heroku Announcement

GREAT news! Johego just received $100,000 in free credits from Heroku, whose platform-as-a-service we use to host the server that runs our smartphone application.

We were able to secure the donation thanks to connections we made through StartX, the global business accelerator Johego is participating in this summer. I’m excited to see what other partnerships we can secure during the rest of the program! Happy 4th of July, everyone!

– Michael

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