Combatting the Opioid Crisis with IDEAS

by Julie Barr on May 4, 2017 · 0 comments

in Alumni Life

Members of the Hey,Charlie team discuss their project at the IDEAS Global Challenge event. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

Hey,Charlie, a team that is helping to address the opioid crises in the US, won the top prize in the MIT IDEAS Challenge, which brought together 40 MIT student-led teams to present innovative ideas with market-based solutions that could change the world. Ten teams split $95,000 in prize money at the awards ceremony on April 29.

At the event at the MIT Media Lab, the teams presented projects in these categories: water and sanitation, education and training, agriculture and food, health and medical, emergency and disaster relief, housing and transportation, energy and environment, mobile devices and communication, and finance and entrepreneurship.

“This is such a unique competition and aligns well with our mission,” says Hey,Charlie team member Emily Lindemer, PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. “We fall somewhere between healthcare and social enterprise, and it can be difficult to find organizations and funding sources who have the ability to make an impact in this hybrid space. There are so many social determinants of health, and we are very excited to be working with IDEAS to address some of them.”

Lindemer and her team’s project, which won $15,000 in the competition, started at the MIT Hacking Medicine hackathon last year. The key feature is an app that uses minimally invasive behavior modification through smartphone notifications to aid individuals recovering from opioid addiction. By collecting data from patients’ smartphones, the app can promote and reinforce positive relationships to the user as well as encourage distance from negative influencers.

“For the medical experts that we’re working with, they like the idea of Hey,Charlie because it is an opportunity to engage with patients at exactly the right time,” says Lindemer, “getting immediately in between the pathological thought process and the subsequent action. This is something that doctors can’t do, because they can’t follow their patients around 24/7.”

The other winning teams had projects with global reach focused on affordable housing, education, urban health and water, low-cost prosthetics, and disaster-relief drones. The teams that were awarded $10,000: Biobot Labs, Need-a-Knee, Drones For Humanity, MDaaS. The teams that were awarded $7,500: Nesterly, Joro, Pukuni Community House, Kumej.

All teams that received grant money will attend a three-day winners retreat. During the 15 months they can use their grant, the winners will check in three times with the IDEAS Global Challenge and have opportunities for community engagement and mentorship.

Winners of the IDEAS Global Challenge. Photo: Dominick Reuter.

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