Hosted by the 4EU+ Alliance and the School of Global Health at the University of Copenhagen, the challenge asked students to propose preventive solutions that would respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The central question was:
In your city, design a community intervention that strengthens resilience among vulnerable populations to overcome negative implications of COVID-19 preventive measures.
Sorbonne University’s Team 12, made up of students Inna Ndaw, Paul-Dao Zhang, Robin Guelimi, Racim-Ilyas Bouhmil and Aleksandar Mitrevski won the challenge, impressing the judging panel with their “HealthKit” solution. Here, Paul takes us through their project.
What is a HealthKit? How did you come up with the idea to create it?
The HealthKit is a box that contains all the tools your regular doctor would typically need to conduct a reliable teleconsultation to give a quality diagnosis. The idea came to us from a former project of one of our team members—she had been working on a similar idea that was originally intended to solve the problem of medical deserts (the lack of access to healthcare in particular regions.)
Due to the explosive rise of the teleconsultation in France, the HealthKit is a good response to COVID and even after the pandemic. There are two typical patient types for HealthKit: The first is a patient with a chronic disease, for whom HealthKit greatly facilitates the remote monitoring of vital signs. The second patient (and this is where we believe the potential is greatest): The patient who wishes to have occasional teleconsultations with their GP for a specific question, while maintaining a good-quality diagnosis.
You have described this HealthKit as a 'doctor-in-a-box'. How does it work?
The kit has a range of equipment that facilitates the medical appointment. First, there’s a tablet used for the teleconsultation, providing an invaluable link between doctor and patient. Then there are important tools such as a stethoscope, a thermometer, an oximeter, and a blood pressure monitor, which are all connected to the tablet so that the doctor can view the vital signs of their patient in real time.
The patient can get their HealthKit from their local pharmacist or have it delivered to their door. Then all they have to do is simply start their teleconsultation using the tablet. After their appointment, the patient returns the HealthKit, which will then be disinfected.
Your team is multidisciplinary. How did your different skills help you succeed?
Our multidisciplinary team was a significant strength. It helped us in the exchanges and debates within our own team, and was reflected in the quality of our work.
For example, our team included Robin, a dermatology intern, who was able to pass on knowledge from his concrete field experience during COVID-19; we also benefited from the skills of Inna and Racim thanks to their backgrounds in health engineering and pharmacology. Finally, Aleksandar and I, who are studying innovation management training, were able to help the group with various aspects of project management, finance and entrepreneurship.
What improvements will be necessary to make your project a reality?
First and foremost, we need to gather more feedback from physicians who would be directly involved in—and would benefit from—our HealthKit. They are the cornerstone of our project and their feedback is essential to us. At the same time, we also need to create a prototype and test it, which will enable us to receive concrete feedback to refine and improve our solution. We will then have to rework our business model to make it as realistic and feasible as possible.
What did you learn from the other teams during the challenge?
We witnessed a great diversity of projects and ideas among the other teams. Competing against them allowed us to better understand our strengths and weaknesses, and helped us to rework and improve our organization. We were able to build on some of their ideas and improve our written and oral presentation skills.
We were impressed by the convincing and innovative projects from the other teams that were developed very quickly. Our whole team agrees that exposure to other universities such as Copenhagen has opened our eyes to different academic perspectives and the European way of life. For example, we were struck by the importance of quality of life and well-being in the Danish approach, and we noticed that business models and wealth creation were of lesser importance across the board in the solutions presented at the Urban Health Case Challenge.
This article was first published on 15 January by Sorbonne University.