Health for America

Madhura Bhat from Washington, DC

The Project

Health for America is an audacious attempt to use America’s greatest strength – entrepreneurship – to combat its greatest challenge – health. Our systematic review found that, unlike entrepreneurs, traditional public health models rarely use repeated, rapid experimentation with systematic learning from failure to create solutions. Instead, change agents faced entrenched bureaucracies that encouraged incremental improvements over transformational impact. Using these lessons, we designed a fresh approach. We chose young leaders to build health solutions as they are more likely to champion radical ideas. We planned a one-year fellowship to instill urgency and integrated entrepreneurial principles (Human Centered Design and Lean Startup) as well as public health concepts (landscape analysis, monitoring, evaluation, and impact assessment). We elected to pair three fellows from diverse backgrounds with community leaders as community-based approaches have shown the greatest impact and sustainability. A medical champion was added to complete the team and provide expertise. We designed mechanisms to support this team with private sector perspectives and resources as well as a framework to encourage teams across the country to collaborate. We envisioned the graduation to be a conference with presentations to investors, thought leaders, and the next class of fellows to disseminate and sustain the solutions. This model creates a unique framework to accelerate innovation in health.

The Progress

Health for America has gained remarkable traction with collaborators, partners & students in the four months since it was founded with no funding except for $3500 invested by the co-founders. Our novel approach, praised as innovative, feasible, and scalable, has attracted requests for collaboration from leading medical centers and academic institutions from around the country. In addition, there is much enthusiasm amongst private sector organizations and Foundations. Within a month of launch, with no advertising, our website attracted over 50 emails from potential applicants and almost a dozen interested in joining our team pro-bono. In recognition of their work, the Health for America co-founders have been invited to South by Southwest, Digital Health Summit at the Consumer Electronic Show, the Lean Startup Conference and TEDx Baltimore. We are formalizing relationships with partners and actively seeking funding to launch our inaugural class in 2013 to demonstrate feasibility. In line with our mission, we are creating connections between entrepreneurship, community health, and design. We are participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week, Giving Tuesday, organizing community engagement activities and organizing a hackathon style workshop that will bring together developers, health experts and designers in a microcosm of the fellowship program. Health for America is a non-profit organization registered in Washington, DC and is enthusiastically building on this exciting start.

The Team

Health for America was founded by Madhura Bhat, a remarkable multi-cultural American of Indian origin who was born and raised in Zambia. She has an outstanding track record working with global brands, Fortune 500 companies, UN agencies, and NGOs over the last decade. In recognition of her leadership, Madhura was selected for the Stars Symposium for Leaders of the Next Generation, Atlantik-Brücke Young Leaders Program, the Robert Bosch Fellowship, the Sandbox network of young leaders and received the 2011 power 30 under 30 award. Her co-founder, Kapil Parakh, is a cardiologist and the Director of Heart Failure at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. He has used startup techniques to create an innovative community based program that integrates technology solutions. Kapil has expertise in the fields of cardiology, epidemiology, public health and clinical research. He has presented at numerous national conferences, authored over two dozen papers in scientific journals and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology. Kapil holds a MD, MPH and PhD. The core team includes Cordell Carter II, former vice president of the Business Roundtable who has extensive private-public partnership experience; Courtney Lobel, who has created youth programs, and worked in philanthropy; Suprita Makh who has designed and led interactive trainings for global audiences and Katie Oakley, an education specialist with a decade of experience in creating and managing student programs.

The Fearless Changemaker

Of Indian origin, Madhura was born in Zambia and grew up with a tremendous drive to succeed. At a young age, Madhura’s mom enrolled her in Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form, as a means to escape her circumstances. Madhura rapidly mastered the art and at age thirteen completed a grueling three hour Arrangetram (graduation) that made her a guru in her own right. Bolstered by her success, Madhura channeled her energy into her education, finishing high school two years ahead of her class and migrating to the United States to begin her undergraduate studies at sixteen. Madhura continued to blaze a pioneering path graduating with honors and completing her Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in record time. She took on a number of challenging roles at leading international institutions, experimenting with different approaches. Selected for the prestigious trans-Atlantic Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship, she was inspired by the impact of cross disciplinary approaches. She pursued this passion for partnership by working with Fortune 500 companies and development organizations to maximize the health impact of investments. Even as she worked full time, Madhura continued to build her expertise by completing a MBA and MA. Most recently, Madhura took the fearless step of stepping down from her prominent position at the United Nations Foundation, leaving over six figures in salary and benefits, to focus full time on the project she started, Health for America.

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