HONOLULU — A company aiming to provide easier access to sexually transmitted disease test results and other medical records announced a new name on Wednesday after facing protests by Native Hawaiians for using the word hula.
The Los Angeles-based company will now be called Healthvana Inc., founder and CEO Ramin Bastani said.
The previous name Hula drew complaints that it was culturally insensitive. An online petition asking Bastani to change the name argued that it exploited a sacred cultural dance.
Bastani immediately removed any references to “getting lei’d” in company marketing material but said the Hula name would remain. Then in May, after learning to understand the concerns of the Native Hawaiian community, he announced the name would change.
The new name combines the words health and nirvana while matching the company’s goal of enlightened health care, he said.
“We were very thoughtful about what name we selected, so we made up a word,” he said. “We went through maybe a thousand different names.”
The state Senate Hawaiian Affairs Caucus and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs had issued a statement calling the Hula name “highly insensitive, tactless and inappropriate.”
After Bastani said the company would find a new name, Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe said the change was appreciated, “in acknowledgement that no culture should be demeaned for profit or convenience.”
The company helps patients get instant electronic access to their medical records and test results. A key function involves acquiring and sharing with partners or health providers through a mobile app the results of STD tests.
“We think patients should be empowered to get their records every single time,” instead of relying on the belief that “no news is good news,” Bastani said.