Madison, May 15, 2017 – HealthConnect.Link, a Wisconsin-based non-profit venture, announced that UW-Madison Industrial and Systems Engineering researchers, Nadia Doutcheva, Michelle Tong, and Dr. Nicole Werner, PhD have joined their team. Nadia Doutcheva is a first-year PhD student in the Industrial Systems and Engineering department; Michelle Tong is a recent UW – Madison graduate in biomedical engineering and will pursue a master’s degree before enrolling in medical school. Dr. Werner is assistant professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) at UW-Madison and is the student's’ mentor.
Prior to joining HealthConnect.Link, Doutcheva and Tong, with support from Dr. Werner and two other students, created the concept for Health Links, a smartphone app to help connect low-income Madisonians with community resources, such as food pantries, shelters and health centers. Based on a user’s geographic location and time of day, the app helped prioritize trips, reduce travel time, and confirm business hours. A future goal was to generate a “best fits” list based on previous searches of a demographically similar group of users.
The student's work was recently selected as a finalist in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society design competition. They were also awarded a Baldwin Idea Endowment grant from UW-Madison to further their design efforts.
When HealthConnect.Link founder and CEO, Kevin Dwyer reached out to the UW-Madison engineering group, they embraced the opportunity to join the HealthConnect.Link team and unite future efforts.
On this merger, Kevin Dwyer, founder and CEO of HealthConnect.Link commented, “Our entire HealthConnect.Link team is excited to welcome Nadia, Michelle, and Dr. Werner to our project. They bring a lot of expertise in user-centered design, especially as it relates to healthcare technology. This falls perfectly in line with our own philosophy of creating HealthConnect.Link in close cooperation with community members and healthcare professionals.”
“The need for this kind of app is huge, especially since up to 70 percent of health outcomes have been attributed to influences outside traditional healthcare settings, such as social determinants of health,” says Dr. Werner, a recognized Human Factors Engineering leader in the areas of geriatric care and Alzheimer’s Disease research. Dr. Werner also serves as affiliate faculty for the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement, UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at the William S. Middleton Veterans Hospital, Madison.
HealthConnect.Link is making strides in creating an online community of affordable health resources to help underserved patients access needed services and support. They are working in partnership with the UW-Madison School of Social Work, SSM Health Dean Medical Group, and over twenty other community partners to develop a no-cost online resource able to instantly match a person in need with organizations or programs that can immediately provide support. The Beta application is completed and development work continues to move forward.
The students are excited about the challenges that come with a project of this nature. “This is the kind of work we hope to do for a living,” say Tong and Doutcheva. “Learning how to apply human factors engineering principles to a real-world problem is a valuable job skill as well as a rewarding experience.”
More information can be found at www.healthconnect.link and http://wernerlab.engr.wisc.edu/