Sponsored by Eric Aroesty, C’92
Come see the Finalists pitch live at the Startup Showcase!
April 27, 2018
Jon M. Huntsman Hall
Startup Challenge Semifinalist SpectrumScores
Despite improvements in many areas, LGBTQ+ people continue to face significant healthcare disparities in terms of access and outcomes that are exacerbated by an inability to identify LGBTQ+-competent providers. SpectrumScores empowers LGBTQ+ people to take back control of their health by offering an intuitive ranking and review system for healthcare providers based on their LGBTQ+ competence and friendliness, enabling patients to connect with the healthcare providers best suited to meet their unique needs.
How did you come up with this idea?
The founders of SpectrumScores met at a “Problem Night” for an innovation and entrepreneurship competition called HealthX Labs hosted by Penn’s medical school. During “Problem Night”, team leaders pitched their ideas to an audience of medical students, engineering students, and business students to form interdisciplinary teams competing to develop medical innovations. While the team leaders were incredibly impressive and had promising ideas, all three of us came away from “Problem Night” disappointed that we had been unable to find a project that we were excited to work on.
We bonded over our disappointment, but we also immediately felt that we’d found a group that would work well together. So, despite protests from some of the organizers of the competition, we decided to go a bit rogue and form a team solely consisting of medical students to build an idea from scratch. When we first started working together, we had no idea what we wanted to work on. We ran through a number of possible projects ranging from adjustable blood pressure cuffs to developing bacteriophage therapies, but it wasn’t until we stepped back and began focusing on the problem we wanted to solve rather than the type of product we wanted to create that we came up with SpectrumScores.
Each of us had different motivations for beginning our work on SpectrumScores, but we all share a fundamental desire to contribute to improving the health of a community that has been failed by our profession as well as an interest in leveraging information and technology to help improve patient agency and healthcare access. Further, we had all been affected by challenges in accessing LGBTQ+ competent care either personally or through the experiences of loved ones. We are fortunate to be at Penn, which is considered a leader in LGBTQ+ health and has given us access to resources and mentorship that allowed us to properly explore this problem.
Despite our shared passion and commitment to improving the health of this community, the scope, complexity, and persistence of poor access to high quality healthcare for sexual and gender minorities was daunting. A turning point came during our initial research when we discovered that members of this community were already using social media and informal forums to disseminate information about healthcare providers. Rather than try to solve this problem on our own, we decided to leverage the efforts already underway by the community by building a centralized website where this review process could be expanded upon and made easier to access in order to benefit all members of the LGBTQ+ community across the nation.
How will your venture change the world?
With so many resources available online nowadays, finding healthcare providers to meet your individual needs should be easier than ever. However, this is far from a reality for LGBTQ+ patients, who continue to suffer from higher rates of unmanaged HIV, several cancers, and mental disorders, to name a few. These disparities, which too often fly under the radar, are exacerbated by challenges in accessing LGBTQ+ competent healthcare. A recent nationwide study showed that over half of LGBTQ+ patients face discrimination in healthcare settings, partially explaining why so many hesitate to seek help even for treatable medical problems.
As future providers based in Philadelphia, we believe it is our responsibility to end this problem. We built SpectrumScores to put an end to LGBTQ+ healthcare disparities by connecting LGBTQ+ patients with the right providers to meet their unique needs. The idea was born from our shared negative experiences with well-meaning but under-informed providers, as well as an understanding of the difference a truly LGBTQ+ competent provider can make in somebody’s life.
We believe that accessibility to proper healthcare is a fundamental human right, no matter where someone lies on the spectrum. SpectrumScores will provide a space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their collective experiences with healthcare providers that will help their peers find the high-quality healthcare they deserve. By improving access to high quality care, SpectrumScores will provide peace of mind and encourage better healthcare utilization for this significant and underserved community.
To put it simply, SpectrumScores will change the world by ensuring that high-quality, non-judgmental, and LGBTQ+ competent healthcare is always just a click away.
Naveen Jain, GR’24, M’24
Jun Jeon, M’20
Philip Williams, M’20
- Naveen: I am lactose intolerant but love dairy products.
- Hong: I can cut my own hair.
- Jun: My friends and I biked from Pittsburgh to DC in four days.
- Phil: I’m very allergic to peaches and cherries but didn’t find out until I was 20.