On April 28, 2011 The Innovation Grant Committee announced the recipients of the Innovation Grant Fund to honor proposals which create change that has a positive effect on student learning, service, or organizational performance. One of the twenty recipients was John Mulder ‘13 for his proposal “Health Literacy Bridge” for the amount of $8,000. Mulder’s proposal calls for “Using artificial intelligence and education to bridge the health literacy gap and improve patient outcomes in diverse communities.”
Mulder received his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of California, Davis and is currently a first year student in the Doctor of Pharmacy program. After initially working several years in basic research, he had the unique opportunity to join several engineering colleagues at a start-up company in the Silicon Valley. This sparked his interest in integrating emerging technologies in the field of pharmacy.
During hard economic times like these patients are seeking low-cost, over-the-counter (OTC) products for self-treatment in lieu of visiting a doctor. “When used correctly, OTC products offer effective self-treatment options, but if used incorrectly OTC products can put vulnerable groups such as small children and the elderly, who are on multiple medications, at greater risk of worsening health problems,” said Mulder.
With this grant, Mulder, under the guidance of faculty advisor Dr. Suzanne Galal, will be conducting a pilot study to investigate the effectiveness of a unique patient education and technology-based intervention for self-treatment. If designed properly, the system can perform “intelligent” tasks similar to those performed by a pharmacist counseling patients on OTC product usage.
This “expert” system will run on an Artificial Neural Network (ANN), a powerful machine learning method that is able to capture and represent complex input/output relationships. Once the patient has identified his symptoms, the system generates recommended treatment options based on the knowledge. Mulder is also taking it to the next level by designing the device to offer multiple languages according to patients’ preferences, as well as ensuring a standard minimal grade four reading level.
Mulder hopes the enhanced accessibility of the kiosk-based OTC device will improve patients’ ability to understand, communicate and use health information to make smarter, self-treatment choices when purchasing OTC medications. In addition, he hopes the device will serve as a viable educational resource and tool for the School for OTC counseling, training and outreach events and health fairs. Mulder is currently in the process of submitting the OTC device and methodology for patenting.
As a recipient of this grant, he will be participating in the Innovation Learning Community (ILC) over the next year to support future grant recipients and their innovations. Mulder will be completing his study later this year and plans to make a final report presentation in April 2012.