Preeti Prabhu, a fellow in the Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) program, was part of the winning team in the mHealth@Duke Shark Tank competition held Friday, April 3.

Other team members were Parth Chodavadia, a junior majoring in neuroscience and global health, and Suhani Jalota, a junior majoring in economics and global health. Jalota is also the daughter of MIDP and Rotary alumnus Rajiv Jalota.

The Shark Tank competition was designed by mHealth@Duke and the Duke Global Digital Health Science Center to provide a platform for the Duke University community to share innovative ideas in mobile health (mHealth) or digital health. The winning team’s idea was the development of a mobile app to standardize processes for rape victims in India.

The app provides a step-by-step guide for health care providers conducting medical examinations on rape victims. It also prompts them to refer the victims to mental health specialists and gynecologists following the consultation.  

“The issue of rape has always been close to our hearts, but the trigger was an episode of a television show that highlighted cases of girls going to hospitals after sexual assault and being turned away,” Prabhu said. “We realized that it is high time that we look at the after-rape situation through a medical lens to treat rather than ignore obvious injuries and hidden mental trauma.”

The app is designed specifically for countries where there are weak or inconsistent protocols for providing care to rape victims.

“A girl should have the security to know that the kind of treatment she would receive would be similar across hospitals,” Jalota said. “A single doctor should not decide the protocol to use or not to.” 

Health care providers would enter basic information into the app, such as the victim’s age and the location where the crime took place. The app would keep track of rape cases on a daily basis, forming weekly and monthly reports on the number of patients coming to see health professionals.  

“This will help form a database of the locations of rape cases seen by doctors, where a patient is more likely to go after a rape rather than a police station,” Prabhu said.

The winning team receives $500 and access to content experts, startup consultants and software engineers to help launch the app. After conducting additional research, the team plans to pilot the app at two public hospitals in Mumbai. 

Seven teams submitted applications for the Shark Tank competition. These teams were made up of Duke undergraduates; graduate students in medicine, business, environmental studies and public policy; and faculty and staff at the School of Medicine. The other two finalists designed apps to help medical supervisors give better feedback to their students and to help people learn cognitive behavioral therapy skills.

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