Meet Susan Helliwell, CEO of Praxes Medical Group – Digital Nova Scotia – Leading Digital Industry
Meet Susan Helliwell, CEO of Praxes Medical Group

July 21, 2020

This article was originally published as part of our Opening Doors series for students and educators. PRAXES Medical Group is one of our Members of the Month for July 2020!

Originally from Ontario, Susan has lived in Nova Scotia since 1990, and is a passionate supporter of the Nova Scotian lifestyle. At 12, Susan started her entrepreneurial career and has been a founder of five businesses over the past 25 years. Today, Susan helps people in remote locations connect with expert medical advice as the CEO of PRAXES Medical Group, and also has two companies involved in real estate.

About Susan Helliwell

My favourite subject in high school was music – I played the French horn, and I still play it with several community groups today. I was also good at math and science, so I really felt I had two options for my career; music and engineering. I love fixing things and finding out how things work. I didn’t have any engineers in my family, but I thought that engineering combined my love of math and science perfectly. At that time, the school guidance counsellors were not very encouraging of women going into engineering programs, but I had a very strong friend group of smart women who aspired to go into law, medicine, and engineering. Eventually, I decided to study engineering, but I kept playing music on the side.

In my mechanical engineering class at the University of Waterloo, there were four women in my class of 100 students. I am glad to see that there are more women going into engineering now, but we still need to encourage more women to pursue careers in both engineering and computer science. In 1994, I started Renovators Resource with Jennifer Corson. We were the first architectural salvage company in Halifax, as we saved tons of used building materials and saw them reused in many homes and businesses around Nova Scotia.

Software That Works for Doctors

In 1997, my husband, myself, and five other emergency doctors formed PRAXES to provide medical support to the offshore oil and gas industry here in Nova Scotia. Right from the beginning, I saw there was an opportunity to use software to remove the administrative tasks from our doctors, which allowed them to focus on providing great medical care. Our software has changed greatly over the last 15 years but is still designed to make it fast, and easy, for patients in remote locations to connect with our doctors.

We have always focused on being the expert content providers. Whether people connect with us via cell phone, satellite phone, ship-to-shore radio or more recently, by secure messaging or video, we pride ourselves on delivering the best medical care possible. We provide comprehensive medical kits for remote sites, so that onsite personnel can deliver enhanced care remotely, guided by our doctors. By doing this, we help companies to keep their personnel onsite, working, and productive.

“As our company grows, I’m interested in learning about new technologies, and evaluating how they may provide additional value for our clients.” – Susan Helliwell

We are one of the few telemedicine providers in North America that record and review our medical consultations and provide feedback to our doctors. We do this to ensure we deliver excellent, consistent and evidence-based medical care. We believe that doctors, just like pilots, can benefit from peer review and constructive feedback.

Finding Work-Life Balance

We have a fabulous team of people here at PRAXES! Our company is very accommodating in terms of work-life balance, as we offer flexible work schedules, work from home and remote work options, unlimited vacation, support for professional development, and other benefits. Everyone has a personal life to manage, and we trust our team to manage their work and home schedules in a responsible manner, which they do every day. We support each other, so that we can provide excellent support for our clients.

My personal view of a good life balance is to eat well, sleep well, exercise, and have other personal interests outside of work, so we really try to infuse that into our company culture. I personally always find time for exercise and play music – for me, music is great because when I play, I can’t do anything else. It clears my mind and allows me to come back feeling refreshed.

As our company grows, I’m interested in learning about new technologies, and evaluating how they may provide additional value for our clients. Digital Nova Scotia provides excellent opportunities for this, by offering seminars, presentations and learning opportunities for our whole team. PRAXES is primarily a medical company, but we are heavily reliant on technology, as are most businesses these days. We have recently added an in-house software development team, so we have more capability to innovate.

About PRAXES Medical Group

PRAXES connects people with unexpected medical needs to timely, appropriate and excellent care, wherever they are, and whenever they need it. We improve health care while simultaneously reducing cost and risk for clients across Canada and around the world.

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