In her career as a healthcare administrator, Dr. Johana Vanegas had never worked closely with designers, programmers, and artists – until the second week of November, that is.
Invited to attend the Independence/Jefferson Health Hack, a weekend event focusing on improving the access to and delivery of healthcare, Vanegas and her team delivered a winning presentation in one of the event’s three tracks. She and her teammates conceived of a six-sided device that could record the emotional states of patients and, as a result, reduce hospital readmissions.
“Patients don’t want to necessarily enter data into a smartphone app and, to be honest, not every patient has a smartphone,” said Vanegas, a student enrolled in the Part-time MBA program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. “That’s what makes CareCube so unique.”
The Director of International Patient Access at Philadelphia’s Fox Chase Cancer Center Vanegas and her teammates designed CareCube. The device offers its user the opportunity to answer one basic question – for example, “How are you feeling?” – six different ways. Then, the patient’s responses are collected and sent to a database. The key to CareCube, Vanegas said, is that there are many applications on which it could be effective.
“It’s the type of device you might have for an elderly and otherwise healthy parent living at home, or for someone in a nursing home, or for someone who was recently discharged from the hospital,” said Vanegas, adding that while a USB cord powered the device’s prototype, future renderings of CareCube will be wireless. Vanegas said CareCube also will include voice-recording capabilities to match the tracked response with related intimation provided by the patient.
The Health Hack winnings accrued by Vanegas and her team included: $5,000 in cash; access to Microsoft BizSpark, which offers software and services for start-ups; dedicated space at the Independence Innovation Center; and memberships to NextFab, a collaborating workspace for Philadelphia innovators. Winners from each track also will share lunch with Independence Blue Cross executives Brian Lobley, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Consumer Business, and Terry Booker, Vice President of Corporate Development and Innovation.
Health Hack, held Nov. 13-15 at Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and sponsored by Independence Blue Cross, gathered 250 professionals, from artists, web developers, and engineers, to healthcare professionals, patients, and students, to brainstorm solutions to today’s greatest healthcare challenges. The event’s participants were tasked with developing solutions in one of three tracks: the reduction of readmissions, wearables, and drone-based healthcare delivery.
“It was a terrific event and I was very fortunate to have been invited to attend and participate,” said Vanegas, who was encouraged to apply for Health Hack by James Moustafellos, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at the Fox School, to apply the business design and innovation skills she learned in his course, Design Inquiry and Research.
Vanegas is slated to complete her Fox MBA in May 2016.
“It’s a difficult task, managing a full-time career, the pursuit of your MBA and your family,” she said, “but it’s incredibly rewarding, and it’s setting a good example for my two daughters. It says to them, ‘When you have an opportunity to do something special, you should take it.’”