MobileYou Updates Columbus on Health Care
By Kaitlin Bradley
Outreach and Engagement Communications Student Intern
We are in the age of technology as a daily necessity. At the same time, local public health has become an increasingly important issue. One group in particular at Ohio State has pursued addressing these realities through an app called MobileYou that provides access to free meals, job placement, shelter information and affordable health clinics, among other services. The app also includes a navigation system which allows users to find to the locations of these resources in their surrounding area through the accessibility of Google Maps-based technology, while also providing links to affordable transportation.
While it may be common thought that engineering or computer science students would be the ones creating an app, the students behind this project are all in the graduate nursing program. The group, which includes Sarah-Jane Baserman, Stephanie Bunker, Megan Miller-Lloyd, Hayley Townsend and Phil Newman, attests that they have no prior tech experience, just a desire to make this idea a tangible tool. Their inspiration to create the app stemmed from an inquiry based project for one of their entry graduate courses and the observation of a need.
"I pushed for the app development, because everything else we had done had been creative tech based. If we talked about need, but didn't show it, what had we done?" Newman questioned.
Since the project and app has a focus on health and wellness promotion, the team has provided users a tool to find free public events, support groups and Columbus Public Health information through technology.
The MobileYou team displays the app and website (photo courtesy of MobileYou).
Now that a need for the app has been shown, the group plans to expand MobileYou's horizons and grow its name recognition. The process is obviously not a quick one, but by cultivating connections with local organizations and support groups, they will be able to improve the resources available on the app and reach those who need it through word of mouth.
"The biggest piece of this has been the outreach from local businesses and organizations because our users want privacy and anonymity. We have to connect to them on the local levels," Newman shared.
The group reports an increase in downloads from the 40s to the 1500s in the first few months of its existence, and the number keeps growing. The increase in interest prompted them to think, "what if we took this national?"
A national health campaign and program is a large step, but after capturing the attention of local groups and individuals, it can be done.
"We are not yet talking to national organizations, but we're submitting apps to go to conventions to help cultivate what our image is and so we can get a better idea IT-wise. We need to get our information solidified before we take MobileYou national!" Baserman shared.
Overall, the group said that they have felt overwhelmed by the level of support from instructors, peers, community members, and the university as a whole as they have gone on the journey of taking the app from a class project to a reality. The group was even named Ohio State's 2015 Student Innovators of the Year. Hayley Townsend gave a taste of how it feels once the university backs your project.
The MobileYou team with Caroline Whitacre, vice president for research, at the Innovator of the Year Awards program (photo by Kevin Fitzsimons).
"The amount of support and guidance we've received has been incredible. I don't think any of us had any idea what kind of response we were going to get from this project. Patient advocacy is vital in the nursing profession, and with this app we hope to create an easily accessible program for vulnerable populations in order to help them utilize the many resources that are available to them!" Townsend said.
Grab your iPhones and support your fellow Buckeyes by recognizing their hard work and understanding the depth of need in the area. It can be easy to forget how many people in Columbus still need connection to major resources, some even here at our own university.
For more information, visit the MobileYou Columbus website.