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Five USF Teams to Compete in the 2019 Florida Blue Health Innovation Competition

By Daria Kovaleva

Aigerim Ibraimkhanova and Nasibakhon Khodieva

Aigerim Ibraimkhanova and Nasibakhon Khodieva

TAMPA (August 29, 2019) -- University of South Florida international students Aigerim Ibraimkhanova and Nasibakhon Khodieva have teamed up to earn a spot in the 2019 Florida Blue Health Innovation Competition, a statewide contest that this year is under a theme of “Utilizing Big Data to Solve Ailments of Diabetes, Obesity, and Heart Disease.”

Ibraimkhanova, an MBA student in the Muma College of Business, and Khodieva, an undergrad pursuing a degree in health sciences, will pitch an app for managing and controlling diabetes. They will compete against 11 other teams on Sept. 19 at the GuideWell Innovation CoRe in Orlando’s Lake Nona Medical City for the top prize of $15,000.

One other team from USF, Julian Heredia and Srikrishna Srinivasan, represents the Muma College of Business’ Business Analytics and Information Systems Program. They are two of the five teams that represent USF as finalists in the competition. Besides USF, finalists come from the University of Central Florida, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Florida and Flagler College.

"The main purpose of our application is making life easier for people with diabetes and make their communication with doctors and advisors (nutritionists and fitness instructors) faster and more efficient,” said Ibraimkhanova. “We believe that this business idea would bring scientific and medical research in this area to a new level, which at the same time would support people with that diagnosis.

“Additionally,,” she said, “insurance companies would be able to provide better coverage and service for their clients with diabetes and make patients’ lives more comfortable and more manageable."

The team sees its innovation as an affordable, user-friendly solution for those who want to take control of diabetes’ complex problems and impairments. With the app, patients will not only stay on track with their insulin therapy but also get valuable recommendations from health care professionals.

“The app is a universal thing that establishes patient-physician communication as well as a partnership with a personal nutritionist and a physical trainer,” Khodieva said. “These three parts are essential for managing diabetes and its conditions as effectively as possible.”

On top of that, the product may be incorporated into EHR systems, which could help doctors better maintain databases and make data-driven decisions.

“I know how a relationship between doctors and patients works, so our main goal is to maintain this relationship in a better way,” Khodieva said. “This app has the purpose of giving its users easy access to controlling their health care parameters and contacting their physician without an appointment.”

Khodieva was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2017 and she has never been satisfied with conventional communication practices.

“I have to visit my doctor every three months, but there’s no direct connection besides that, especially if I have an emergency,” she said. “I tried to use some apps, but none of them had all the features a person with diabetes needs.” By putting herself in the shoes of both a patient and a health care professional, Khodieva has a two-way vision of the issue along with a strong value proposition to future customers.

The USF team won’t limit the app’s designation for analyzing insulin levels and staying in touch with a doctor.

“The coolest thing about our product is that we also plan on creating a library with educational resources for people with diabetes,” Khodieva said. “As the severity of this ailment depends, in part, on one’s physical activity and eating habits, educating app users, especially those with lower income, is essential for maintaining their lifestyle quality.”

Even though the app is still in the development stage, the students are confident their concept is viable in the marketplace.

“Aigerim has a strong background in finance, while I see things from a medical perspective and I think we make a great team together,” said Khodieva. ”I feel very confident about the competition.”

The other team with connections to the Muma College of Business is comprised of Heredia and Srinivasan, both enrolled in the master’s degree program in the Business Analytics and Information Systems Department. Heredia is an MBA graduate and is proficient in big data and business analytics, machine learning and project management.

“I have expertise in importing, cleaning, mapping, modeling and visualizing raw data with the purpose of building better decision-making systems,” Heredia said in a personal statement submitted with his application.

He has been in the private sector for eight years and currently works for Citigroup in the Markets Technology Division. Prior to that he was a data analyst graduate assistant at USF working in the Office of Decision Support.

Srinivasan is a technical architect who deals in machine learning, artificial intelligence and digital transformation.

“Currently, I’m exploring machine learning and the fullstack solutions based entirely on JavaScript,” he said in his personal statement. “I have a passion for creating value from data analytics using technology to create a great experience for users and an enjoyable experience in their jobs.”

Their project aims to create a clinical management system with intermittent fasting, uses data analytics to help health care providers predict and detect patients with elevated cardiovascular and diabetes risk. The solution would enable hospitals and health care providers to easily leverage a patient’s data to identify suitable candidates for a controlled monitored fasting program.

USF teams from other colleges include:

  • Amanda Giggy, Caitlyn Smith and Shana Indawala, enrolled in the doctoral program at the Taneja College of Pharmacy. Their plan involves diabetes medication adherence;
  • Prisca Alilio, Nitisha Mehta and Frank Lee, enrolled in the doctoral medical program. Their plan is to develop a tool to leverage patient health data and consumer data with respect to diabetes;
  • Xuxue Sun, Sakim Nazmus and Joseph June, enrolled in the industrial engineering and aging studies programs. Their plan is to develop Blue Dia-Beats, a smart diabetes management platform. 

In all, 36 students are taking part in the competition, including nine undergraduates, four graduate students, 11 doctoral and 12 medical students. Four deal with diabetes, three with cardiovascular disease, three with data and technology and three with obesity.