YSPH Student Recognized as Top Health Innovator
Ruchit Nagar, an M.P.H. student in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, was named to Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30, a listing that showcases the accomplishments of some of the nation’s most innovative and talented young leaders.
Nagar, 22, was chosen for his work on Khushi Baby, a wearable device (necklace) that keeps track of children’s health records to facilitate improved immunization rates in the developing world. The device relies a computer chip that stores up to two years of data. When linked to a mobile application, health care workers treating patients in remote villages are able to access information that helps them ensure children are getting the vaccinations they require.
The technology is being field tested in several locations in India and Nagar and his colleagues envision its expansion in the coming year. In many places, immunization records are kept in written form. They are often incomplete or get lost, placing children at risk of diseases that can be easily prevented with vaccinations.
“Plenty of healthcare entrepreneurs are working in electronic records and wearables. Nagar is combining the two,” Forbes said.
Plenty of healthcare entrepreneurs are working in electronic records and wearables. Nagar is combining the two.
In 2014, Khushi Baby won the inaugural $25,000 Thorne Prize for being the best student-led venture focused on social innovation in health or education. InnovateHealth Yale, a program at the Yale School of Public Health, sponsors the prize. More recently, Nagar and an interdisciplinary team of student collaborators won $15,000 from UNICEF to support the incubation and mentoring needed to further develop the project.
Immunization rates in the rural areas of India hover around 50 percent to 60 percent, well below the World Health Organization’s benchmark of 90 percent. The team’s next project is to test the use of automated voicemails recorded in local dialect that remind mothers to bring their children in for health care services. Nagar said preliminary results indicate that the necklace and voicemails combined are having a positive impact on getting children vaccinated on schedule.
Nagar, a 2014 graduate of Yale College, who plans to attend medical school after graduation this spring, said his idea for Khushi Baby started out as a sketch in an engineering class that grew into a prototype before being developed into a pitch that was taken into the field for implementation. His plan for the coming year is to scale up the use of Khushi Baby, which he calls an example of “the last mile” of health delivery.
“This is an area where I believe substantial improvement can be made,” Nagar said.
Martin Klein, director of InnovateHealth Yale and associate dean for development and external affairs at the School of Public Health, said Nagar’s recognition is an affirmation of the resources at Yale available for students interested in social entrepreneurship and places him among the many successful social entrepreneurs that preceded him and those that will surely follow.
To see the full list of 30 Under 30, visit http://www.forbes.com/30-under-30-2016/healthcare/
This article was submitted by Denise Meyer on January 25, 2016.