Fringe Projects #2: Can social innovation help you get better healthcare?

Última atualização 10 de Outubro de 2013.

Fringe Projects #2: Can social innovation help you get better healthcare?

Healthcare can be a contentious issue.

 

 

Depending on the country, healthcare can be government subsidized, privately run, or free for citizens. (Check out this article on 10 different health care systems from around the world to learn more.) The subject can be rife with conflict as well – the current United States government shutdown being a prime example as the Affordable Care Act, or President Obama’s health care reform act, is the key issue. Political beliefs and personal situation both play a large role in people’s ideas of what kind of healthcare their country should have. Despite these issues however, social innovation is actively working to make different aspects of healthcare better.

 

Social innovation and teenage depression

 

Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, X-factor thoughts, or SPARKX for short, is a tool that has been developed to help teens that suffer from depression. Up to a quarter of young people suffer from some form of depression before they reach the age of 19. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the preferred treatment for depression but this form of therapy can be very expensive and inaccessible to a large portion of those who need it. In response to this issue, a research team at the University of Auckland has designed a computerized CBT intervention called SPARKX for teens seeking help. SPARKS is a video game that provides therapy to the often unwitting user. The game takes users through a fantasy landscape dominated by Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts. Users find hope, deal with emotions, overcome problems and recognize a shift in their negative thoughts. Research is showing a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and hopelessness among adolescents who play the game.

 

It’s interesting to note that in 2011 the New York Times published a piece warning parents about the possible depression-causing effects of playing video games. What do you think of these findings? Would you give your child a video game to help combat anxiety and feelings of hopelessness? 

 

Maternal health and social innovation

 

Maternal health is a huge issue in low in come countries. According to the World Health Organization around 800 women die every day from complications due to pregnancy. LifeSpring seeks to bridge the gap between low quality maternal health facilities and high cost private hospitals in India. These private facilities are forcing many women to take out loans and sell assets to finance their choice of receiving adequate care. Using a cross-subsidy model of tiered pricing LifeSpring is able to charge low prices for its general ward and provide quality care to low-income people in India. The model is easily replicable in many different locations, which ensures scalability and rapid expansion as well!  

 

Hackers and health?

 

In response to a growing disconnect between what innovation is possible for healthcare, healthcare practitioners and the technology developers who can make these innovations a reality, a group of young professionals in Canada have created Hacking Health, an approach to healthcare innovation that uses a hacker mentality and partners healthcare professionals with technology innovators to generate solutions to health-related problems. Hackathons are common in technology-based industries and generally take the form of intense 2-3 day marathon events where programmers and developers collaborate to create prototypes. By introducing hackathons to healthcare, Hacking Health hopes to bring a successful bottom-up approach to healthcare issues. The first Hacking Health took place in Montréal, Canada and lead to 19 working prototypes ranging from prescription drug reminder applications to a 3D burn area calculator for physicians. Check out all the innovations here.

 

 

These are just a few of the many social innovation projects that are going on around the world related to healthcare reform. If you have ideas related to healthcare innovation you should check out the Simplicity Challenge, a contest that is calling for ideas to simplify the healthcare system in the United States. You could help make a difference!

 

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Fringe Projects is a new blog series we are starting at I4P. Check in every other Thursday to learn about some controversial, inspiring or wildly imaginative projects from around the world! 

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