The technological search for new solutions to global problems passes through people. That’s what the three young founders of Verbal Care, a new start-up in Boston, have found out for themselves. Dougherty, Hsiao, and Zoeller are three newly-graduated engineers with an excellent record of awards well before they have even launched their own business venture.
They have developed a platform that allows health workers and carers to communicate with patients with communication disorders. The cloud platform uses a large number of instruments as the iPad application to convey the needs of patients more accurately: with large speaking buttons, they reduce the risk of preventable adverse events. Based on the needs of the individual users and the characteristics of their non-verbal disabilities, caregivers can add their own images, texts and recordings to the standard ones.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, in the U.S. seven and a half million people every year are affected by conditions that impede their communication. This sometimes temporarily disability may lead stroke victims, for example, to be unable to tell a nurse that they need to use the bathroom, to communicate their level of pain , to share with their spouse that they are hungry, or ask to change the channel on TV.
This application brings with itself another innovative character: if patients receive proper attention, establishing with the hospital a more effective care relationship, then the hospital itself can get a better rating, thus cashing faster reimbursements from American insurance giants like Medicaid, the federal health fund for individuals and families with low income, and Medicare, the one for over 65 and disabled young people.
The app is free, offsetting other forms of income and savings for the hospitals. Compared to other applications, Verbal Care was born from engineering research and has been completely rewritten four times: the computer skills have had to give in way to the knowledge of the problems obtained talking to speech therapists, nurses, patients and relatives of the Massachusetts General Hospital.
You can hereby find a variation of the concept of social innovation, represented by those products or services that are able to modify existing services, reducing costs and increasing the quality. The social innovator must demonstrate that their idea works better than existing ones and creates value for people, focusing on unmet needs, social and environmental dangers, trying to optimize all the resources available. Including the payment timing of health insurance.