April 20, 2024

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Because health is very important to us

Fixing a patient care communication gap | Waterloo News

3 min read

Seun Adetunji

Seun Adetunji (MBET in progress) 
Alum, Faculty of Engineering
> Founder, MedInclude 
> Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business
> GreenHouse
> Velocity

Seun Adetunji combines her experience working in the health care sector with her expertise in communications and equity, diversity and inclusion, to create a patient-centred solution for understanding medical information.  

Health-care providers often provide patients and their caregivers with important information that include specific medical jargon. But research has shown that around 51 per cent of those patients don’t understand the medical language provided by their doctor.   

Adetunji, a student in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program at the University of Waterloo, says this problem became more apparent to her while working as a communications professional in the health care sector, providing patient advisory and support for stomach cancer and cardio oncology patients. 

“The patients that I was working with were in and out of the hospitals on an average of three times a month seeing multiple specialists and doctors,” Adetunji says. “At that rate, medical information became overwhelming for them and their caregivers. In my time supporting those patients, I sought out tools and solutions that could help them manage and better understand the medical information they were receiving.”  

When she could not find the right tool or solution, Adetunji took matters into her own hands by creating MedInclude — an AI-based data processing platform that can help health-care providers transcribe patient notes into lay terminology in real time. MedInclude also includes a text-to-audio and language translation feature for people with disabilities and English language barriers.  

Creating a tool to fix the patient care communication gap  

As a teenager, Adetunji was a caregiver to her grandmother and experienced firsthand her grandmother’s frustrations with not having direct access to and understanding of her medical information. Her experience as a caregiver was part of the reason Adetunji wanted to become an expert in communications and equity, diversity and inclusion, within the health care sector. 

“Most clinicians and health-care professionals truly care about patients’ understanding their medical information, but the very nature of most medical information makes it difficult for patients to understand without doctors (or other health-care professionals) taking additional time to simplify it,” Adetunji explains. 

Adetunji assumed that decades after taking care of her grandmother, there would be a solution to address the patient care communications problem when she started working for the health care sector. But she was quite surprised that at the end of her research to support her patients, she came up with nothing.  

“There were tools out there that help doctors better communicate with other doctors, specialists and pharmacists but little to none are built from the patients’ perspective,” Adetunji says, explaining how the lack of resources made her more determined to create something that was more patient-centred. 

Now, MedInclude helps clinicians better communicate with patients by transcribing medical-speak to everyday, simple language. The doctor enters medical information into the MedInclude platform, where it is transcribed into lay terms aimed for a grade five reading level. The translation is then shared directly with the patient through the platform.  

MedInclude’s pilot program with KidsAbility  

In 2023, the MedInclude team launched their first pilot of the new platform in partnership with KidsAbility, an organization that supports children, youth and their families through innovative programs and the latest technology.  

“The pilot helped KidsAbility translate information to patients in the patient’s own preferred language, which in turn helped improve health information literacy for those patients,” Adetunji says.  

“It was very helpful to see the solution we designed in real use. The clinicians at KidsAbility gave a lot of useful feedback and insight about user experience — what works and what could be better. The feedback we got has already been helpful as we design the next iteration of the MedIncude platform.” 

The MedInclude team anticipate launching the next iteration of the MedInclude platform in the first quarter of 2024, which will be available for health care organizations, providing them with updated features for a cleaner and more seamless clinician and patient experience. 

Adetunji’s goal is to leverage AI technology to make medical information more accessible for patients and their caregivers — enabling patients to have more agency in their own health care decisions. 

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