UHD Alumni: She Decided to Become Her Own Boss to Help Others
By Sheryl E. Taylor
More than five years ago, Jennifer (Zinn) Woodruff decided to become her own boss.
After graduating from UHD with a communications degree, the 2003 alumna held a lucrative and successful career for 15 years in the pharmaceutical and medical device sales industry. With this seemingly bold move, she had the idea to create her own company Patient Better™, which provides a self-managing program to teach individuals and caregivers how to manage care.
“The Patient Better Self-Managing Program™ is a game-changer for patients and their families to unite as a team, which strengthens their caregiving capabilities by affording laypeople the opportunity to receive more sophisticated at-home care for complex diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease,” said Woodruff.
Q: What was your inspiration for creating Patient Better? Why the name?
A: “Throughout my career, the primary responsibility of my position was to meet with physicians to discuss whatever product line I was promoting; however, much of that time was also spent with patients to train, educate, and help them throughout their medical occurrence. Many of the devices I sold were for people who landed into two groups: (1) those diagnosed with a complex condition (that completely came about out of the blue) and (2) those who underwent surgery. These groups had a great deal in common. Many of these patients or their families had no idea of how to navigate throughout the health care system and safeguard themselves from unnecessary trips to the emergency room to navigating in a labyrinth of avoidable phone calls and office visits to having an activity-driven encounter with health professionals, all the time. In essence, by following a self-managing program you can “patient better”… hence the name.”
Q: To some of our readers, you took a substantial risk of leaving a successful career to create your company; how did you stay driven to not quit and go back to a more traditional career?
A: “It never crossed my mind that I was taking a risk. It was more like an opportunity. There’s such a great need for people to learn how to self-manage their care and it’s my passion to bring this idea into the world.”
Q: The relevancy of your company and now book, “A Remote Companion for Self-Health Management,” is paramount during the pandemic, why?
A: “As an extension of the program, the book is written for people to self-manage their care remotely. Statistics show that there is a significant amount of an underserved population living in rural America. Twenty percent of those living in these areas are needing more medical assistance whereas only nine percent of those specialty services are delivered. Research shows that during the pandemic many people have put off diagnosing or getting the proper attention needed to adequately manage their condition. This book teaches people what they need to know and do to properly execute a virtual medical appointment and make it just as effective as an in-person encounter as well as how to navigate today’s medical and insurance protocols.”
Q: What sold you on UHD?
A: “From the moment I walked through UHD’s doors I was greeted with friendly smiles from people like myself who were so ready to share their experiences. For most of my tenure in college I worked and because of UHD’s ability to navigate students like me as a first-generation student who needed to work and support themselves, I took the advice and the opportunities from others at UHD as they arose. I choose a degree in Communications because at the time it was the first and only degree (newly) offered where I could attend school at night and work during the day and weekends. And UHD’s advisors had my back every step of the way… they were so knowledgeable with a can-do approach and attitude that ultimately rubbed off on me to show the world yes I can.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.