Most digital dietary packages are geared towards younger adults working to ascertain wholesome consuming patterns as they start to navigate the world independently. However that doesn’t imply that older adults couldn’t profit from some assist, too.
That’s the pondering that led a workforce of Northeastern college students to make geriatric diet the topic of this 12 months’s Husky Health Innovation Challenge. Within the case competitors, placed on by healthcare innovation membership ViTAL, groups of scholars pitched unique digital options to assist geriatric sufferers meet their dietary well being wants over the span of simply two weeks final month. All of it culminated on March 27 in a single-day occasion—Pitch Day—which is harking back to the tv present Shark Tank, with finalist groups presenting their enterprise plans to a panel of judges who then rank the highest proposals.
Among the many high proposals this 12 months have been a Snapchat-style app to assist customers plan and monitor their meals, a voice assistant system to attach customers with dietary assist, and a subscription snack field tailor-made to every buyer’s particular person dietary wants.
“Vitamin is a significant factor that performs into lots of continual well being situations in addition to lots of different situations that folks expertise older of their lives that may considerably change their high quality of life,” says Elisa Danthinne, a fifth-year industrial engineering pupil at Northeastern, who’s the director of particular occasions on the healthcare innovation membership and led the planning workforce for the problem.
This 12 months, the Husky Well being Innovation Problem wasn’t only for Huskies. The scholar-organized competitors was expanded to incorporate undergraduate college students from throughout the Boston space.
There aren’t alternatives just like the Husky Well being Innovation Problem particularly for undergraduates within the Boston space, says Danthinne. “We wished to mannequin our competitors off of what graduate establishments have been doing,” and make the competitors extra collaborative and accessible for all undergraduates from the primary competitors in 2019, she says. But it surely wasn’t till this 12 months, when college life moved on-line and her workforce had two earlier competitions below their belts, that the problem was expanded.
And it was fairly the turnout. Representing eight completely different faculties, 87 college students entered the third Husky Well being Innovation Problem, up from 23 and 25 throughout the first two competitions.
“I believe it pushed us so much tougher than if it was simply at Northeastern,” says Eva Kuruvilla, a second-year pupil at Northeastern who research mobile and molecular biology and healthcare programs engineering. “It additionally made the second place win really feel extra gratifying.”
Kuruvilla was a part of a Northeastern workforce that proposed a marketing strategy for a telehealth platform that the workforce known as EatRight, which positioned second within the competitors. The app, which is designed with seniors in thoughts, presents customers tailor-made diet suggestions, printable grocery plans that consider native retailer choices, personalised communication with a dietician, a private meals diary, and weekly well being questionnaires.
The proposed firm additionally would combine partnerships with different organizations that present meals supply, diet dietary supplements, companionship, and volunteers to assist with duties akin to grocery procuring. So as to finest assist essentially the most weak populations, EatRight’s funding mannequin can be primarily based in Medicare.
The workforce that positioned first within the competitors was made up of Boston College college students. They pitched a voice-powered system to assist older adults in diet and to fortify social connection for meals accountability.
“It was an important expertise,” says Ben Reydler, a junior learning enterprise administration at B.U. “I assumed it was hosted by some group, it was so skilled, the entire emails, the entire branding, and I get to the Pitch Day and it’s fully student-led and I assumed, ‘that is superior.’” The expertise impressed him to start out one thing comparable at BU, he says.
The problem didn’t solely foster pleasant rivalries between universities—it additionally served as a solution to carry Boston-area school college students collectively. “We tried to match folks all through faculties in order that we may foster collaborations and in order that it wouldn’t really feel like we have been pitting faculties towards one another,” says Megha Gupta, a fourth-year pupil learning neuroscience at Northeastern who led the exterior communications and outreach effort on the organizing workforce for the problem.
However for one workforce, that cross-collegiate collaboration got here naturally. Elizabeth Si, a first-year pupil at Northeastern learning political science and economics, didn’t hear concerning the competitors by her personal, internet hosting college. Shreya Nair, a first-year pupil at Harvard College, noticed the commercial and instantly considered the chance to work together with her longtime pal. The pair teamed up, recruited one other classmate of Nair’s, and so they positioned third—as the one completely freshman workforce among the many finalists.
Their proposal, Sage Snacks, is a month-to-month supply of snacks chosen to serve particular person clients’ dietary wants. The field would include all kinds of snacks to assist eaters broaden their very own choices and an informational card detailing the dietary worth and contextualizing that info by way of the way it advantages their our bodies. However the service wouldn’t cease there. The corporate would additionally host month-to-month digital group meals in order that members may socialize with each other to alleviate loneliness and maintain eaters accountable.
The highest three groups all earned money prizes that the problem organizers hope shall be put towards turning these concepts right into a actuality. However, says Christopher Han, a fourth-year neuroscience main at Northeastern and government director of ViTAL, the purpose of the competitors is simply to get college students fascinated by geriatric diet and practising placing collectively a marketing strategy and pitch.
“You’ll be able to’t clear up geriatric diet in a single case competitors,” Han says. “However I believe simply having the ability to assume large, and assume ahead, and perceive that you simply positively received’t have all of the solutions, however you need to positively strive … And any effort towards enhancing healthcare is an efficient effort.”