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Ensuring a healthy-life for those in need: Two technology startups profiled

By attending an eight-week program that included 10 entrepreneurs, two new tech startups are shining.

Out of the shadow, Egypt money-pooling apps thrive
An employee of "Al-Gameya", a tech startup for money-pooling, holds a phone with the application at the company offices in Egypt’s capital Cairo - Copyright AFP Khaled DESOUKI
An employee of "Al-Gameya", a tech startup for money-pooling, holds a phone with the application at the company offices in Egypt’s capital Cairo - Copyright AFP Khaled DESOUKI

Corinne Vargas and Osvaldo Montelongo set out to solve problems that affected people they care about. The technology-based solutions they created are starting to receive recognition for the health equity they help to foster.

SmartCharts and ConnectCareHero, the two companies founded by Vargas and Montelongo, respectively, are two of the startups featured in the MATTER and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Startup Showcase.

Both of these firms are minority-led businesses. They were chosen by MATTER and YWCA to participate in the inaugural Health Equity Innovation accelerator, which is an eight-week program that includes 10 entrepreneurs who marked their completion of the program by pitching their solutions at the showcase. The final selection was made on November 4, 2021.  

Both Vargas and Montelongo have made use of data-driven technology to create pictures and connections that support health across cultures.

In terms of how the two companies function, with SmartCharts  this is based on most people being visual learners. SmartCharts uses data visualization to track and communicate progress.

Vargas found that “pictifying” patient progress represents a game-changer for patients of all backgrounds and ages. This was drawn from personal experience, for Vargas had witnessed her mom’s post-stroke recovery and frustration.

As a consulting actuary-turned-speech/language pathologist, Vargas decided to build a digital tool that helps care providers track patient treatment and therapy against individualized goals, turning that data into pictures so that patients and providers can see their progress. The SmartCharts solution also reduces patient note documentation time for speech/language pathologists and occupational/physical therapists by 66 percent.

With the second firm, this is based on the sue of data-driven activity programming to help tackle social isolation among older adults aged 65 years and older. The ConnectCareHero digital platform built by Montelongo and his co-founder Tornu Ngwayah is based on the need for culturally relevant social engagement.

Montelongo realized the importance when his aging father needed more support. The platform, launched for senior living communities, home care organizations and health centers, provides live, virtual masterclass sessions for older adults.

The session activities, which include cooking classes, guided tours, magic shows, and, interestingly, mariachi music, are culturally tailored to the participating communities. Both high-tech and low-tech solutions are offered, helping reach underserved communities.

In terms of medical support, ConnectCareHero helps healthcare organizations identify what is successfully engaging older adults and who is at risk for accelerated isolation. This individualized data can assist in creating programs catered to those who are using them.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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