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Medic Mobile Launches Medic Labs: A New Tech Accelerator for Global Health with an Initial $3 Million Investment from The Rockefeller Foundation

Medic Labs will Incubate Breakthrough Ideas in Data Science and Precision Public Health, Bringing the Strengths of the Tech Community to The Challenge of Health For All

San Francisco, February 20, 2020 – Today, Medic Mobile announced the creation of Medic Labs, a new global health technology accelerator, with $3 million in seed funding from The Rockefeller Foundation. Medic Labs will pursue moonshot ideas – in the tradition of dedicated R&D arms of major technology companies, including Microsoft Research, Google X, and Bell Labs – to drive better community health outcomes for all people, everywhere, through the intentional, equitable application of data science.

Globally, there is a growing and urgent need to improve community health. Today, half the world lacks access to essential services, and by 2030, the world will face a shortage of 18 million health workers. The current model of community health, based on static care and protocols, is ripe for large-scale change.

“New datasets and precision approaches to clinical practice are transforming healthcare for the wealthy, and it is time for the powerful insights underlying this shift to strengthen health systems serving the poorest and hardest-to-reach communities,” said Isaac Holeman, PhD, Co-Founder of Medic Mobile and Head of Medic Labs. “Medic Labs will play a crucial role in realizing the potential of Precision Public Health, creating human-centered solutions that help community health systems to reach more people in need and improve health outcomes for everyone.”

“Moonshot ideas have generated innovations that have transformed the lives of many,” said Naveen A. Rao, MD, Senior Vice President, Health, The Rockefeller Foundation. “The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support Medic Labs as they apply this approach to generating new ideas that have the potential to advance precision in public health and improve health for all. I welcome others to join us in supporting such bold approaches to solving the world’s greatest public health challenges.”

For the past decade, Medic Mobile has worked with Ministries of Health and other partners to support countries in realizing the potential of community health workers to improve the health of their populations. Through the Community Health Toolkit (CHT) open-source project, Medic Mobile has built digital health applications that over 27,000 health workers have been trained and equipped to use. The organization’s well-established human-centered design practice, and other insights and expertise gained through this work, will inform Medic Labs’ research agenda and approach to moving projects from the lab to the field.

Medic Labs will be a separate research unit housed within Medic Mobile. This separation between routine operations and R&D will provide Medic Labs’ growing team with room to experiment, while having the ability to roll out promising developments with Medic Mobile’s health system partners across 14 countries to make an impact at scale. In the coming months Medic Labs expects to form new partnerships with health systems, co-funders, and other innovative organizations to further expand on its ambitious R&D agenda. Initially, Medic Labs will focus on three areas:

  • Human-centered design: Reimagining how data is used to improve software interfaces that support health workers in their daily activities, making service provision more intuitive.
  • Data integration: Sourcing, analyzing, and deploying new and innovative datasets on health and the Social Determinants of Health, including transportation and weather, into the CHT ecosystem to gain greater understanding of factors that affect healthcare.
  • Data interoperability and third-party solution integration: Combining third-party applications with the CHT to increase access to data and improve community health outcomes.

“The Community Health Toolkit has enabled community health workers to reach more people with life-saving interventions,” said Beatrice Wasunna, a Senior Researcher at Medic Labs. “We’re excited to work with The Rockefeller Foundation to ensure that Medic Mobile’s innovations do not stay in the lab, but reach those who stand to benefit the most as quickly as possible.”

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About Medic Mobile
Medic Mobile’s mission is to advance good health and human flourishing with and for the hardest-to-reach communities. A unique non-profit organization, Medic Mobile works with partner organizations to build and apply software that helps health workers deliver equitable care. As technical steward of the Community Health Toolkit open source project, Medic Mobile supports more than 27,000 health workers who provide care for over 12 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Most of the organization’s nearly 100 engineers, designers, and global health practitioners work from offices in Nairobi, Dakar, and Kathmandu, and roughly a third work remotely or from offices in Seattle and San Francisco. The organization and its open source community envision a more just world in which health workers are supported as they provide care for their neighbors, universal health coverage is a reality, and health is a secured human right. For more information, sign up for our quarterly newsletter at www.medicmobile.org  and follow us on Twitter at @Medic.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission – unchanged since 1913 – is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation advances new frontiers of science, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. In health, The Rockefeller Foundation has been working to improve global public health for more than a century – from eradicating hookworm in the American South, to launching the field of public health, to seeding the development of the life-saving yellow fever vaccine. The Foundation’s Precision Public Health initiative aims to empower community health systems and frontline health workers with the latest digital innovations – including more accurate and precise decision-making tools based on predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at www.rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter at @RockefellerFdn.

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