Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Compass

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One-line solution summary:

Compass is a SMS-based platform designed to improve accessibility to resources and information in vulnerable communities.

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Pitch your solution.

With Compass, we are committed to facilitating better and more efficient public health outreach and interventions in areas that have been faced with larger health inequity gaps. 

To “encompass” this, we developed Compass, a low-tech, free-to-use solution that would allow for national accessibility. Compass is an NLP-driven, HIPAA-compliant, SMS-based platform designed for broadband accessibility that can also store anonymized patient data into our cloud database. This SMS-based platform would enable us to best serve the vast majority of the population that has access to reliable SMS texting capabilities. 

If our solution was scaled globally while receiving more clinical partners, Compass could potentially save countless lives by simply improving the rates of health literacy. By providing members of vulnerable groups with relevant and key information pertaining to their disease of interest, we can encourage disease prevention interventions and improve the overall health of these vulnerable groups.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

COVID-19 has exposed a multitude of gaps within our healthcare models. After speaking with multiple public health experts, we learned about the disparate impacts of COVID-19 and how modern healthcare resources, such as websites or mobile apps, are inaccessible to vulnerable populations. We were shocked to learn that only 10% of the U.S. unhoused population has reliable access to internet-based services, despite 80% of all Americans having access to reliable SMS texting capabilities.

Thus, in an era where technology has been able to reach parts of the world that were previously inaccessible, there is still a contemporary crisis where vulnerable populations aren’t able to utilize the available modern healthcare resources. A lack of utilization has led to lower health literacy scores as for those at the poverty level or up to 125% of it, the average health literacy score was 222 while the average health literacy score was 17 points lower at a score of 205 for those living below the poverty level. Compass will be utilized to target these lower health literacy rates and the lack of equitable health infrastructure among lower-income populations. These populations extend globally, beyond just the United States, and the issue affects billions of people. 

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What is your solution?

Compass is a low-tech, free-to-use solution that would allow for national accessibility. It is an NLP-driven, HIPAA-compliant, SMS-based platform designed for broadband accessibility that can also store anonymized patient data into our cloud database. This SMS-based platform would enable us to best serve the vast majority of the population that has access to reliable SMS texting capabilities. 

This SMS-based platform utilizes an SMS chatbot that is an accessible medium. We maintain high levels of transmission access to anyone who has texting capabilities, thus mitigating any sort of learning curve or inaccessibility that might accompany a novel technology.

Furthermore, we also use Twilio to analyze text and our Azure cloud database to reliable store data. This allows Compass to becomes a fairly simple platform for clinics and advocates to incorporate.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our product targets disinvested communities and historically underrepresented identity groups around the globe whether that may be in Subsaharan Africa, rural areas in India, or in the United States. These populations are underserved either due to a lack of investment from their government or due to historical systemic prejudice. Due to such impacts, these populations have dealt with a lack of access to valuable information. Our solution will bridge this divide between the communities and the damaging impacts listed above by offering an affordable solution. 

In order to understand their needs, we hope to discuss with local health departments and local authorities to tailor their needs to create optimal usage efficiency. Our solution will address the vulnerable populations by providing them a platform and a tool to use so that they and their families can live a much healthier lifestyle. 

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Leverage big data and analytics to improve the detection and diagnosis of rare diseases
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Our solution aligns with the Challenge because Compass is an SMS platform that targets lower-income populations. It is known that vulnerable populations have aggravated the severity, prevalence, and/or transmission of rare diseases due to minimal access to resources. Compass can mitigate this divide by utilizing our technology-based solution to partner with local clinics and/or health departments to guide patients to receive proper diagnoses. It can also provide an online and easy-to-use center to extract information from to improve health literacy in these vulnerable communities. By improving health literacy, we improve the overall health of communities by implementing public health interventions.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Cambridge, MA, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

We have selected the Pilot stage of development for our solution because Compass has already been implemented and tested in the St. Louis region. We had around 100 people utilize our product. We hope to use The Horizon Prize to expand in several different communities poised with even more significant future growth. 

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Tejas Sekhar

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
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What makes your solution innovative?

Though SMS or SMS chatbots are not new concepts, Compass redefines the way the SMS platform is used within the healthcare industry. We believe that we bring an innovative approach towards an already existing technology. By applying our platform in areas where SMS usage is high and where WIFI access is low, we hope to use our platform to connect these vulnerable communities with resources and information that is commonly available via WIFI. We expect this to be catalytic in the way described below assuming that our product receives a long term implementation partner.

We believe that this would change the market as it creates more tangible and immediate benefits by incentivizing care for underserved communities. This would happen by increasing the importance of the bottom line not just from a socially responsible standpoint, but from a financial point of view as well. 

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our platform is built on Twilio infrastructure with modifications per the specific clinical use of the application. For example, users text our system and answer a series of questions (offered in 11 languages) to assess their current health status. Users are subsequently assigned to a stratified risk level and directed to the nearest affordable testing site or clinic, based on available resources being distributed through a public health campaign. Patient data is anonymized and securely stored in our database to identify geographical, financial, and symptomatological factors driving disease in resource-strained areas.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Big Data
  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
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Does this technology introduce any risks? How are you addressing or mitigating these risks in your solution?

Our SMS-based platform does present privacy concerns during the transfer of health-related information between the user and the chatbot. In order to mitigate this, we use a HIPAA-compliant database that doesn't violate the respective rights of our users while maintaining their utmost privacy. 

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Rural
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • United States
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Currently, our solution serves no people as we are looking forward to finding an implementation partner. We hope to serve on a constant basis somewhere in the hundreds to one thousand in one year and in the thousands in five years. 

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

To measure the impact of our model, we will first, see how many people have used the platform over time; second, work with partnering hospital administrators to determine how many patients came to the clinics as a result of using Compass; and third, we will implement a follow-up survey whereby texters can submit feedback. Using user and clinical partner input, we can adapt the platform based on evolving customer needs.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

We have three members that work full-time on our solution team. 

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How long have you been working on your solution?

1.5 years

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our team consists of members interested in health-tech who have both worked with high-risk homeless populations and launched affordable point-of-care testing products in previous ventures. Through our conversations with physicians, we’ve learned that many underserved communities are in need of an integrated and simple system to serve as a conduit between testing centers and housing communities where most residents do not have access to professional healthcare providers and are largely unaware of available testing resources. Additionally, our team has conducted extensive research regarding the feasibility and design of a two-way interactive predictive risk assessment SMS tool and a community-based delivery system to overcome data collection and triaging challenges in highly mobile populations, which inspired Compass. Major milestones include receiving mentors and grants from university competitions, and implementation at housing shelters in the US. Our members have been to the testing sites and housing shelters in the St. Louis area thus far, and we have interfaced with sub-Saharan African epidemiologists and patients over the past month virtually.

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

As we work towards building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team, we are primarily focused on working with experienced individuals directly in the communities of interest that we serve. Therefore, we are currently expanding our team globally to include leaders in global epidemiology and asset-based community development. Additionally, our cross-institutional strategy ensures that our team members are representing ideas across a breadth of areas.

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Is your team led or managed by a person with a rare disease?

Yes, our team lead is affected by familial multiple lipomatosis (FML), which is a rare benign hereditary syndrome with a global reported incidence rate of 0.002%.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

We are applying for The Horizon Prize mainly to seek implementation partners and funding. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
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Please explain in more detail here.

We hope to have implementation partners so that we can have patients using Compass while increasing our number of users. This would allow us to expand beyond just rare diseases and help us tackle a wide variety of issues such as food insecurity or menstrual health using our SMS platform. The funding would allow us to cover the expenses for our platform and implemention. 

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

Some potential organizations that we would like to partner with would be the CDC, WHO, NORD, and other large organizations and government programs. 

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Solution Team

  • Bhav Jain BS Candidate @ MIT, Compass
  • Tejas Sekhar Managing Director, Compass
  • Dhairya Shah B.S Candidate @ SLU, Compass
 
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