Aristotle Mannan, Boswell
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SDOH Health Impact Areas:
Public Health | Medical | Behavioral | Psychosocial
I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 with a degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology, moving out to Cambridge, MA soon after to work in cancer research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. For the next three years my focus was early stage cancer drug development and pursuing graduate school/biotech endeavors.
By the spring of 2014, however, I realized that I wanted to leave my comfort zone and do something different – particularly working more directly with people as I had been confined to the lab for the past few years. So I quit my job and began to volunteer with CBOs as a community health worker. I found myself at shelters, pantries, churches, mobile clinics, needle exchanges – the whole spectrum of touch points supporting those in need across Boston. It was my first time leaving the safe and secure “bubble” of Cambridge to venture into neighborhoods such as East Boston, Dorchester and Lawrence that I had always been advised to avoid.
Through my experience working with CBOs, I learned two key lessons: 1) CBOs are key to the delivery of care to vulnerable individuals, but struggle with technological deficits – often relying on pen/paper for client management and 2) the most vulnerable Medicaid members rely on CBOs, but their information is never captured and conveyed adequately to improve their outcomes. These lessons are epitomized through my relationship with Huey, a homeless man I met while working at a mobile clinic in East Boston. Every Thursday night I used to see Huey – he would drink Listerine (27% ABV), had limited access to food and would walk the streets in a green hospital gown since he visited the emergency department at Boston Medical Center several times each week. For six months I witnessed Huey go through this vicious cycle, all the while lacking technical infrastructure at the mobile clinic to document and communicate his status, until one evening he passed away in the lot where the mobile clinic parked.
When I returned to East Boston the following Thursday, Huey 2.0 had emerged – following the same vicious cycle. At each of the CBOs I worked at there were “Hueys” who were unable to navigate the system, but faced outcomes that were costly to the system and themselves. By the Fall of 2014 I started taking the lessons I had learned at the frontline to build out the framework for bosWell – recruiting early developers to create our first application for CBOs. In time, we have honed our value proposition to identify health plans as our customers and brought the pieces together to pilot our platform.