It’s a privilege to be able to work in today’s innovative mobile industry, to develop cutting-edge mobile solutions in areas such as healthcare, and to have a company that goes above and beyond to support your personal passions in these areas, even when they’re outside the office. And it’s especially a privilege when all three happen at the same time.
This was happily my experience recently when I had an opportunity to attend Mobile World Congress Los Angeles in October and participate in a competition called the Novartis Biome Open Innovation Challenge. There I was honored to be named the winner, for leading a team that designed a program called SelfieCare that uses AI and text messaging to raise awareness and understanding for psoriasis.. The experience offered several insights on the future of personalized control of healthcare information and the role of mobile in enabling it that I would like to share here.
Syniverse has been right in the thick of building the next generation of digital identity services. As the focus of digital privacy and trust has shifted from organizations to individuals, establishing and verifying identity have become mission-critical, and Syniverse and other companies have been dedicated to expanding and improving identity services.
This has become an area of great interest to me. Identity applications and verifications specifically applied to humans and devices have become a complex and rapidly developing area within cybersecurity and privacy realms. The recent adoption of such new technologies as self-sovereign identity (SSI) on distributed ledgers, or blockchains, and their ability to make identity secure, private, and portable to give control of information back to the people are revolutionizing how we conduct business and work digitally. The demand for it is driven by changing consumer behaviors and expectations about being empowered to do things now through the power and ubiquity of our mobile devices.
To this end, Novartis hosted an all-day competition called the Biome Open Innovation Challenge at this year’s Mobile World Congress Los Angeles. The competition invited people to enter an idea for a platform or service that helps to create better, faster access to information for real-world solutions for people affected by psoriasis. It was sponsored by the Novartis Biome, a digital innovation lab that aims to empower and engender health tech companies and people passionate about disrupting healthcare through the use of data and digital technologies.
I was intrigued to contribute a solution in this digital health solutions space since I have a background in biological sciences from my education and from my experience in molecular and clinical research at the National Institute of Health. The opportunity to apply my science and tech background for the first time in this setting was extremely exciting!
Novartis provided two guidelines. They included developing an idea that either improves tracking and engagement of personal health, or developing an idea that accelerates access to care in the market, both of which needed to be based on dermatology and psoriasis treatment.
I formed a team with two other people and came up with a concept for a company that we named SelfieCare. Our company offers a digital health solution that has a simple idea. Using a mobile phone, people can take and send a selfie of their body to a chatbot, and the chatbot can use AI to diagnose psoriasis aliments and recommend options on how to treat the condition.
SelfieCare represents a step toward a new software-as-a-medical-service area that allows someone to get fast, reliable answers to something that has typically taken up to days or even weeks because of the multiple levels of care and appointments that are sometimes required. Moreover, SelfieCare provides a simple, personable experience through easy conversation and sharing of information with a chatbot.
We conceptualized these ideas for the company in an eight-slide deck, presented it in an allotted five minutes, and ended with a round of questions and answers from the judges, who consisted of senior professionals in the healthcare, technology, and capital venture industries from companies that included Novartis, Medable, Microsoft, BCG Digital Ventures, and Alchemy Factory.
We were overjoyed but also humbled when we were named the winner. Our experience left me excited to see how more digital health solutions will be developed over the next decade. In particular, I’m intrigued about how they will provide privacy and security to allow people to feel as if they’re in control of not just their data, but the management of their health, in a way where technology helps make it easier.
I believe in a vision where people are empowered to manage their own information, whether it’s for their health or for other areas of life, and to take advantage of technology that makes it easier to access, manage, and communicate health concerns with the right people and parties.
At Syniverse, this is something I fortunately get the chance to do every day with companies across many industries. I’m honored that Syniverse’s wholehearted support for my role extends to special industry events like the Biome Open Innovation Challenge, and I’m looking forward to leading more pioneering solutions that address the future of personalized control of healthcare information and the role of mobile in enabling it.
Rachna Sethi is Director of Product Management at Syniverse and works at Silicon Valley.