Hi there! My name is Sadaf Ahmad and I’ll be interning with Denise Silber for Basil Strategies this summer. I’m currently studying at Smith College in the U.S., as a double major in Economics and French. I studied abroad in Paris this past year, which was an incredibly enriching experience. I met Denise, an alumna of my college, at a Smith Club of Paris event. We started talking about her educational and professional background, and how she came to create Basil Strategies. I found her work extremely intriguing and wanted to know more about the field of digital health, which was completely new to me at the time.
When I was searching for summer internships, I was looking for an opportunity that was not only engaging and interesting, but also one in which I could take initiative and work independently while continuing to learn new things. This means I wanted to complete my own, original work, share my opinions, and collaborate in an open and welcoming space. Additionally, I hoped to find an internship for which my Economics and French backgrounds would prove an asset. Finding a company in Paris for the summer in order to make the most of my French background and ameliorate my language skills was the ideal choice.
I chose to work with Basil Strategies for a number of reasons, including the above-mentioned, particularly because I saw this internship as one from which I could learn a great deal. Basil Strategies is a small company with an impressive network and a great deal of reach. This means two things: firstly, even as an intern working within the company, I have the opportunity to work closely with Denise (CEO) giving me plenty of hands on experience and the liberty to ask a lot of questions. This allows me to take full advantage of this internship and really understand the specifics of Basil and its objectives. Secondly, the associations Basil Strategies has with other individuals, companies, and organizations in digital health has provided me with not only a comprehensive context to build upon as I dive deeper into the field, but has also exposed me to the endless, and possibilities in this ever expanding field.
I’m really excited to be working with Basil Strategies this summer, and to continue to delve into the field of digital health. I’ll be writing blog posts intermittently about events in digital health, Basil, and my experiences here. Stay tuned for more!
Noting that the news broke today in Silicon Valley that French billionaire Xavier Niel will be funding a US version of School 42, I thought I’d mention my visit to the school in Paris, last week, as a member of the Harvard Club in France. Truth be told, I came away from that visit, in awe of what the founder, Nicolas Sadirac (see photo at left) has accomplished. While the school is financed by Xavier Niel, the idea and execution are by Nicolas.
Why is this school so amazing? To be frank, I’d answer “What about it isn’t amazing?” 1. Students LOVE the place. They can’t get enough of it. They are there nights and weekends. They are motivated to the hilt, and they tell you how much they love it. 2. There are no teachers. 3. There are no diplomas. 4. It’s free. 5. When they finish or even before they finish, they all either get jobs or create their own.
Beyond the speech by the founder, I had the opportunity to have long discussions with several students, including the one featured in the photo on the right. All said the same. And 6. This is happening in France, a country where the educational system is highly regulated, slow to change, and very teacher top-down.
How does it work? It starts with an online application that requires candidates to solve cognitive intelligence problems. Then there is a bootcamp called “swimming pool” for one month where students must solve IT problems by working intensely together in affinity groups. And the best are admitted.
On site, they all work on beautiful Macs in huge open spaces; there are 900 in the building, 300 per floor. Each student can work on any computer by entering his login. In addition, there are game rooms where students either bring in their own (traditional) games or play video games on school equipment…And let’s not forget those showers for those who are staying over.
One thing, I have to note that was of concern. There are fewer than 10% of women students. I hope that the ratio will be better in the US, but I’m not so sure, as I imagine the system intrinsically suits men better. Maybe Sheryl Sandberg can lean in on this question.
Here’s the video with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who can’t wait for the California version to start.
Hope you’ll join me at Doctors 2.0 & You where we’ll be talking about School 42, amongst many other hot innovation topics.
We hear a lot about the rise of mobile applications in China, but we don’t always have the opportunity to hear directly from an enduser. Coco Zhang, a visiting international student from Smith College (Basil Strategies founder Denise Silber is also an alumna), took the time to inform us about some of the leading mobile apps for people in China, seeking an appointment with a healthcare professional.
Denise Silber: It’s wonderful to have you as a source. Tell us Coco, how does a person in China usually find a doctor?
Coco Zhang: Nowadays, the most practical and universal way for the Chinese people to find a doctor is by going to a hospital, where they should register an appointment prior to seeing the doctor. There are mainly four ways to set up an appointment: by going to the registration window at the hospital, by phone calls, by Internet, and recently, by using mobile apps. However, given the limited space and the large number of patients, registration at hospitals is now a huge problem in China. I remembered once when I arrived at a hospital at 7 am hoping to see a dentist, there were already hundreds of people waiting in front of the registration window. “We’ve been here since last night.” A couple told me.
DS Several popular applications help Chinese people find doctors. Why would this be popular?
CZ Given the difficulty of registration at hospitals, several mobile apps in healthcare – for example, Spring Rain Palm Doctor and Quickly Asking A Doctor – have gained popularity in the Chinese app market. These mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular and are getting more and more attention. Firstly, by providing an online registration system, these apps effectively reduce patients’ waiting time at the hospital. Secondly, if not in a serious situation, people can get medical consultation as well as auto diagnosis services by using those health apps without seeing a doctor at the hospital, which makes the patients’ lives more convenient. In addition, mobile doctors apps help establish interactive conversations between doctors and patients. Patients can give feedback on the effect of doctors’ prescriptions later and receive further suggestions from the doctors, whereas in most hospitals, patients wait for hours, meet the doctor for twenty or so minutes, get their prescriptions, and that’s all.
DS What do you think of these applications as to how practical they would be for a Chinese family?
CZ Take the doctor consultation app “Spring Rain Palm Doctor” as an example: there are various sections in the app to meet patients’ different needs. It has a symptom database for self-examination, a consultation section where patients can talk directly to a doctor, a personal center where patients can record their health information, and a last section where patients can find the nearest hospitals. Spring Rain Palm Doctor is practical to Chinese families, as it not only serves a role as a medical encyclopedia, but also provides immediate, specific instructions to the patients. Additionally, through recording their health information and consulting with perspective doctors, people are able to build up their personalized treatment and prevention plan as a family unit, for example, the pregnancy healthcare.
DS Do you have any thoughts about the use of mobile applications in healthcare and how it may be different in China and the US?
CZ I see large market potentials for mobile apps in healthcare in China and the US, since both countries are facing the problem of raising medical cost and population ageing. The US has a relatively mature healthcare app industry, with more developed apps and industry regulations. Yet, one characteristic that brings larger potential to the Chinese mobile applications market is the gap between the quality of hospitals in first-tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, etc.) and that in the others. Chinese mobile apps in health care are expected to fill this gap by providing professional consultation and registration services to mobile phone users from all over the country.