Local students help launch pilot program to keep seniors safe during flu season

Ben Henry
Updated: December 06, 2020 10:43 PM
Created: December 06, 2020 12:20 PM

Safer and potentially more effective health care is now available from the comfort of your home thanks to the work of a group of metro high school students.

UnitedHealth Group partnered with four Breck School robotic team members to help invent the Well At Home kit. Offered to UnitedHealth Group’s most vulnerable clients, this pilot program aims to keep them and help them stay as healthy or get better from an illness without leaving their home — especially important right now during flu season in the midst of a pandemic. 

The kit comes with a home base that virtually connects with a doctor. Also included are two lock boxes: One holds a COVID-19 test and the other has potentially life-saving flu medicine, Tamiflu. There are other items to help care for the flu, including a thermometer.

Once someone starts to feel symptoms of the flu or COVID-19, they have a telemedicine call to discuss symptoms. Depending on the doctor’s diagnosis, the doctor is able to remotely-unlock a box (which one depends on what the patient needs).

Around 200,000 people are signed up for the pilot program, and 1,237 of those are Minnesotans. So far 883 kits have been sent in Minnesota, and most of those involved are older than 65 — that demographic is at a much high-risk because of the flu season falling in the midst of a pandemic.

The main goal behind this is to get this medicine or test to the patient as quickly as possible. A major benefit is for the patient not needing to leave their home.

“I think we’re going to realize how much healthcare we can automate,” said Dr. Deneen Vojta, executive vice president of research and development at UnitedHealth Group.

“This is an example of how many speed bumps that are in the health care systems that are really there unnecessarily,” Vojta added. “We need to start taking them down, ripping them out.”

The Breck School students interned with Unitedhealth Group over the summer and were asked to fine-tune their original plans to help during the pandemic.

“It was obviously invaluable and extremely enriching to be able to experience a product go from an idea to go to a marketable solution in people’s homes,” said Emre Adabag, a senior at the Break School and one of the inventors. “Especially In such a timely circumstance, it has just been really surreal to watch.”

To see if this is a good fit for your home, click here

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