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Students build startup to ‘revolutionize’ healthcare information

Faith Zhang / Thresher

By Sam Balakrishnan     2/28/24 3:01pm

The Healthcare Navigator, a new startup for consolidated healthcare information, is launching in May. The leadership team of Rice students Kayla Grimes, Arunima Jaiswal and Priya Bapna said the program aims to present healthcare information in a user-friendly manner to eliminate barriers to healthcare access.

“Our mission is to revolutionize the way people engage with the healthcare system,” Grimes, a junior from Brown College, said. “Right now, people are very passive because they don’t know … what to look for, what metrics to use or how to navigate through things. We’re building a world where we are decreasing the amount of unnecessary healthcare costs and helping to improve health outcomes, and we’re doing it all through technology and innovation.”

“[The Healthcare Navigator is] taking [data], consolidating it, making it easy to use, easy to understand and … sending it out,” Jaiswal, a sophomore from Baker College, said. Grimes added that the app and website get their data from Medicare and Medicaid websites. 

Healthcare information “is not [presented] in a manner where people who aren’t in healthcare can understand it,” Grimes said. “It’s a shame, but that’s why we’re doing this.” 

Grimes and Jaiswal said that the app and website have features to help users identify doctors who fit their preferences and to answer general questions so patients can have a larger role in their healthcare journeys. 

“[Our] whole idea with this was to put the power back in patients’ hands, by providing [them] with the needed information and metrics to be able to actually make those decisions for yourself,” Grimes, the founder and president of The Healthcare Navigator, said.

According to Jaiswal, the interface will be available in a website and app form and has several features. A system called “Patient Power Modules” provides general information on navigating the healthcare system in an interactive format. 

“We … teach you everything you need to know [about] the ins and outs of health care [through] interactive modules that's going to take you at most an hour to get through,” Grimes said. 

For specific questions, Grimes added that users can turn to Care Genius AI, an artificial intelligence chatbot that’s able to answer a variety of questions, including things like what to bring to your first doctor’s appointment and questions to ask your doctor. 

Pocket Doc, another software within the app, will act as a user preference physician search system to find a nearby provider that fits patient needs, Grimes said. Pocket Doc will match patients to providers based on preferences such as location, provider ratings and quality metrics.

“Let's say you're a student and you want a female gynecologist, specifically, who's at most 20 miles away from you, and they have four star ratings, and the quality metrics are X, Y and Z,” Grimes said. “[Users] can also filter for what adjectives most people use in their reviews. You can literally filter for your perfect match.”

Grimes said that users will also have access to Care Manager, an online care plan specific to each patient that streamlines all healthcare goals and needs in one place.

“If you want to improve your heart issue … that’s going to be on your care plan, we’re going to make sure that you have a cardiologist [in] a care clinic that is close to you, but also [with] the same … user preferences that you want. We’re going to make sure that you have a hospital that you can go to that is in your area,” Grimes explained. 

In the early stages of setting up the initiative, the team conducted foundational research regarding healthcare and insurance systems to gain an understanding of the state of healthcare today. They are mentored by the National Patient Advocate Foundation, an organization involved in governmental health policy with goals of improving avenues for patient advocacy. 

Grimes said the team is looking forward to their upcoming launch and to sharing their work with the Rice community.

“All of us really, really believe in this,” Grimes said. “Talking with the National Patient Advocate Foundation, [the] Student Association, Rice administration and other players in healthcare, everyone has said the same thing — if we do this right, this can change everything … We see this really changing the way the healthcare industry is, and it’s really exciting.” 

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