Social Impact Internships: Anais Marenco (’22)
Tech for Good, Tech for Health: How Ariadne Labs is Confronting Accessibility Challenges in Healthcare
This semester, I am working as an intern on the Better Evidence Team at Ariadne Labs. Ariadne Labs is a center for healthcare innovation between Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Better Evidence works to provide access to digital healthcare tools to healthcare providers that serve vulnerable populations around the world. Specifically, this team has formed a partnership with the healthcare software UpToDate, an online site and app that doctors and medical students use for evidence-based medical information. Better Evidence is able to provide free UpToDate access to healthcare providers around the world who serve vulnerable populations.
I started this internship in mid-October and will be continuing into IAP, but I have already been able to learn new things and complete interesting work. As I learned about the digital tool UpToDate, I was surprised at how much of an impact it could make. In low income or rural areas around the world, doctors may not always have the most resources or newest information on medical research, which can be a barrier in ensuring accurate diagnoses and efficient treatment for patients. With UpToDate, doctors can access new medical information quickly and verify symptoms and diagnoses. I read numerous quotes from doctors who have received this resource through Better Evidence, and there were many stories about how the resource helped diagnose a rare disease or even saved a patient’s life by catching a certain diagnosis early. I was amazed to see that this digital tool could make an impact on improving patient care in vulnerable populations. I am excited to be working directly with the team that helps make this access possible for those who would otherwise not be able to afford this resource.
So far, I have been helping approve sites that would be eligible for the Better Evidence program, which has helped the team process applications more efficiently. As applications come in, I research individual hospitals or medical schools (all the way from South America or Africa) to learn how they are serving low income areas and vulnerable populations. This has been pretty interesting since I have been able to see just how far around the world Better Evidence reaches. Through this work, I have also become more curious and interested to learn about the healthcare systems in other countries and what challenges there might be for providing medical care to all people.
In addition to this responsibility, I am also starting to work on a project to help find other tools to help healthcare providers serving vulnerable populations. Just like how Better Evidence has been able to provide UpTodate subscriptions to doctors, they may also be able to provide other resources that can make an impact on patient care in low-income areas.
During this internship, I am excited to take on different tasks and learn more about the populations benefiting from the work of Better Evidence. I plan to go to medical school after MIT, so it’s fascinating to gain a broader perspective about public health challenges, especially those in low-income countries, and about tools that can help doctors provide the best care to patients. I am glad to have this social-impact internship alongside my classes this fall since I have gained new skills and learned about real-world healthcare challenges. I think this opportunity with Ariadne Labs Better Evidence will be a valuable learning experience for me to think more critically about global health and projects that can make an impact. I am excited to be part of the Better Evidence team this semester!
Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for IAP and spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!