Breakthrough Lab: Public Health Students Flex their Entrepreneurial Muscles

Eric Bai and Michelle Petersen

Brown’s 8-week immersive summer program, Breakthrough Lab, enables students to pursue their creative and entrepreneurial passions. 38 students participated in this summer’s B-Lab, researching, experimenting, and modifying their ventures, all with the support of sector specific mentors. The fruits of their intensive experience were presented to friends, faculty, and those dedicated mentors at the Granoff Center on July 28th. Three of the B-Lab venture teams included public health students.

Breadcrumbs is a geolocation-based social media application developed by Josephine Natrasevschi ’18 and Ashley​ Urrutia ’17, a Computer Science and Public Health concentrator. Here’s an example of how it works: Last summer Josie won the Jr. Pan American games in the discus. She posted this on Facebook but now it has been lost in her timeline. If she wanted to share that experience she would have to sift through a year of content. With Breadcrumbs that is no longer an issue. All you have to do is take a photo or video of the moment you want to remember and post it to your Breadcrumbs. That breadcrumb is then permanently fastened to that particular location and any of your friends or family who follow your breadcrumbs can experience what you did in the context you experienced it. 

MyCare is a telephone service run by student volunteers that connects people with the right doctors and helps them get to their appointment by providing affordable medical transportation and child care. After speaking with dozens of community members and health care providers, it became evident to Elaina Wang ’17, Marina Adrianzen ‘17, and Saisanjana Kalagara ’17, a Biomedical Engineering and Public Health concentrator, that people often don't get the care they need because they have trouble finding the right doctors, especially those who accept their insurance and are currently accepting new patients. There is also a high no-show rate for doctors' appointments because people who are low-income and uninsured or underinsured struggle with finding transportation and child care. MyCare will streamline the way people who are low-income find health care in Rhode Island. The team hopes to launch this fall.

Founded by Eric Bai ’15.5 MD ’20 and Michelle Petersen ’18, a Public Policy and Public Health concentrator, TextUp is a web-based case management and communication tool meant to strengthen the relationship between the homeless and the agencies that serve them. Case managers can text and call clients via a privacy protected platform and receive summary reports on their communication. Messages can be scheduled to be sent in the future as well as sent on behalf of other permission-granted staff members, making outreach easier and more collaborative. Homeless individuals can also subscribe to receive text or call alerts from agencies on new support programs and changes to resource availability, giving the homeless access to the information they need for informed decision making.

The School of Public Health wishes all the B-Lab participants the best of luck with their ventures! 
Read more at here.