Young Innovators Pitch Solutions for JHF Fellowship Finale

In the spirit of innovation, the Young Innovators Healthcare Fellowship met via an online platform called Gathertown to virtually convene.

The inaugural Young Innovators Healthcare Fellowship, funded through grants from the Grable Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, concluded in August 2021 with a virtual finale event. In a collaborative and creative environment, 24 youth fellows across the Pittsburgh region and from Maryland met over eight weeks to explore healthcare careers and design innovative solutions for current healthcare problems, while gaining entrepreneurial skills and engaging with young professional mentors. The Fellowship, JHF's first for high school students, is a spin-off of Liftoff PGH 2020, JHF's health innovation initiative that convened leaders across Pittsburgh's technology, health, education, and entrepreneurship sectors for our region's first virtual healthcare innovation summit.

"[The fellowship] has shown me that our society has large, unsettling obstacles in terms of health, but it has also introduced me to young professionals who are taking on those obstacles," said fellow Cyd Kennard, rising junior at Winchester Thurston High School. "It has changed the way that I see myself ten years from now, showing me that through communication, collaboration, and well-identified problems, I can pursue a career that does its part to address these challenges."

During the August 5th finale, four groups of fellows pitched their design solutions to important healthcare challenges focusing on problems within patient safety, access to health care, health care misinformation, and teen mental health.

Fellowship partners and guest speakers helped the fellows identify and better understand challenges in healthcare and begin to propose solutions. Design 2 Make a Difference, a design/engineering program for elementary-high school students of Greater Pittsburgh Area schools, provided an introduction to design thinking principles. With Winchester Thurston School's director of technology, David Piemme, MEd, and science department chair/STEM coordinator, Graig Marx, MEd, fellows formed project teams for each healthcare challenge and used the design-thinking framework to understand the experiences of their target users and craft a defining problem statement.

During the Health Technology Innovations in Healthcare sessions earlier in the summer, fellows learned from health tech leaders and entrepreneurs Todd Wolynn, MD of Kids Plus Pediatrics, Po-Shen Loh, PhD of NOVID, a COVID-19 response app, Courtney Williamson, PhD, of Abililife, who were joined by Marx, who is also the entrepreneurial lead at Prescrib3D Technologies. In addition, Rema Padman, PhD, trustees professor of management science and healthcare informatics at Carnegie Mellon University, provided an overview on the evolution of health informatics in the healthcare industry and highlighted the ever-growing incorporation of technology moving forward. Dr. Padman also introduced students to health innovator and high school student, Aarav Chandrasekar, who showcased hisproject to gamify the informed consent process for pediatric patients and reinforced the application of design-thinking through this work.

Fellows also had the chance to join a Making the Most of Mentoring training with the Mentoring Partnership of SWPA in preparation for a networking session, where fellows connected with JHF Fellowship alumni and partners, including young professionals spanning a wide variety of careers and disciplines in health care.

Young Innovators Fellow Krishna Jaladanki, rising senior at River Hill High School in Maryland, said, "The Young Health Innovators Fellowship allowed me to explore innovation in an unconventional setting. The collaborative environment was much different than traditional school, but this method of learning was significantly more effective than lecture-style learning. I formed fruitful connections with JHF staff and speakers which I hope will help me with my future endeavors. The teachings of this fellowship have allowed me to approach design thinking in a totally different way, and I truly feel ready to develop solutions to solve current and future healthcare issues."

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