November 13, 2020

Learning Through Innovation: Students in Action

A recent panel at the Triangle Global Health Conference held in Durham, North Carolina highlighted the work of four Duke University students across a variety of disciplines who helped private sector social entrepreneurs with projects ranging from cost accounting studies to privacy policies.

Each student project targeted a specific need of our innovators and resulted in tangible outcomes. Presentations included:

  • Time-driven activity-based costing. Trey Sinyard, an MD/MBA student worked with Health City Cayman Islands Hospital model (a replication of Narayana Health from India to the Caribbean). He mapped every aspect of the surgical process to build a financial model that enables cost driver analysis at each clinical step and projects future changes in cost.

  • Data privacy policy. Betty Tushabe, an International Development Policy master’s student, worked with MicroClinic Technologies in Nairobi Kenya. She conducted research to understand the state of data privacy in Kenya and developed a policy governing the privacy of health data captured by MicroClinic’s digital operating platform ZiDiTM, used by healthcare facilities throughout Kenya.

  • Understanding chronic care preferences in rural India. Natalie Skeiky, a Global Health master’s student, worked with SughaVazhvu in Thanjavur India. She conducted fieldwork among chronic care patients in low-income rural areas of Southern India who subscribe to a mobile clinic model. The research project measured their care preferences and satisfaction.

  • Evaluating quality improvement interventions in primary care. Karishma Popli, a Duke senior double majoring in Neuroscience and Global Health, as part of a Duke Bass Connections team, worked with Penda Health in Nairobi to evaluate implementation of clinical protocols to improve quality of care. This data helped Penda to refine the protocol training process before scaling. 

Panelists at the conference were asked about how the usefulness of the information they generated. Tushabe said that her work with MicroClinic Technologies will help the organization to differentiate itself from competitors in Kenya and give it a competitive advantage when working with foreign companies. Sinyard said that he is now doing similar work on time-driven activity-based costing with the Duke University Health System and hopes to be able to compare costs from Health City Cayman Islands and Duke. Popli said that Penda Health will use the quality improvement data to scale up their operations and also in advocating for national standards of quality across the private sector in Kenya.

Many of these internships were supported by Innovations in Healthcare, the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), and the Duke Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) Summer Internship Fund (SIF). Are you an innovator interested in getting student assistance for a project? Are you a student interested in working with us? Contact Andrea Taylor at