Authored by: Student Guest Blogger Lalith Polepeddi
At NU I am involved with GlobeMed, which supports a health clinic in rural Ghana. In summer 2009 through the generous support of the IPD, I had the opportunity to travel to Ghana and work at the clinic for a month. The inherent nature of these global partnerships is limited accessibility, so in going there I wanted to be able to bring back my visual experience to my group. To this end I created a to-scale 3D model of the clinic to enhance global engagement through direct visualization (www.virtualclinicsite.org). Upon completion of this project, it became clear there were many applications in addition to global engagement that could positively impact the efforts of global health practitioners.
My explorations of these applications took me to Miami for a weekend in April for the third annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) 2010 where I had the opportunity to present my project as well as interact with nearly 1,500 students conducting ambitious and inspiring work around the world. From hearing President Clinton speak about the response to the earthquake in Haiti to discussing the role of technology in global health in small group working sessions to contemplating the future of water over Cuban food, my notebook quickly became filled with more notes and ideas than my notebook for class.
One of the most innovative ideas I heard over the course of the weekend was from NYC doctor Jay Parkinson. He created a new doctor-patient model that leverages social networking to build and enhance doctor-patient relationships. His company Hello Health is like Facebook geared for doctors and patients to communicate with each other. What I was most impressed by was the way in which he got it started. He wanted to develop a way for the uninsured population in his neighborhood to get access to health services, so he created a website. Patients could log into his website, view his Google calendar, make an appointment, and enter their symptoms. Jay would get an update on his iPhone and make the house call, and the patient would pay him through PayPal. Jay would then follow up with his patients via Gchat or Skype.
How cool is that? These are tools that we use every day, and Jay simply repurposed these tools to make a tremendous impact in the way doctors and patients interact. Its simplicity is what struck me, because it emphasized to me that we as students have the potential right now to make a significant impact on many of the challenges in the world. It’s just a matter of extending our creativity with the tools we already possess to realize that potential.