Entrepreneur works to improve US health care system with a mobile solution and empathy by Alena Kuzub December 15, 2023 Share Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Evan Smith, a Northeastern senior and entrepreneur, demonstrates on his smart watch CareWallet, a mobile solution to improve interaction between patients and health care providers by digitizing check-in experience, on Dec. 11, 2023. Smith won second place and Audience Favorite awards during the 2023 Husky Startup Challenge. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University Evan Smith says that the inefficiencies of the health care system are one of the most notable problems in the United States. It might be impossible to align objectives of numerous stakeholders and overhaul the whole system, he says. But Smith, 22, who is expected to graduate from Northeastern University next spring with a bachelor’s degree in international business, believes that it is possible to make smaller advances. So Smith formed a startup aimed at improving intake and check-in procedures at health care facilities. “I’m trying to take my gamble and fix parts of the system where I see we have great room for improvements,” he says. Smith’s business venture, CareWallet, recently won second place and Audience Favorite awards with a combined cash prize of $3,000 in the Fall 2023 Husky Startup Challenge. Evan Smith, a Northeastern senior and entrepreneur, demonstrates CareWallet, a smart phone solution to improve interaction between patients and health care providers by digitizing check-in experience, in the EXP building on Northeastern’s Boston campus on Dec. 11, 2023. Smith won second place and Audience Favorite awards during the 2023 Demo Day. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University Every semester, the challenge helps student entrepreneurs develop their business ideas, taking them through a series of bootcamps in which the participants learn about various aspects of creating a venture from ideation to prototyping. At the end of the program, students compete in the Demo Day with two-minute pitches of their startup ideas in front of a larger audience. CareWallet, Smith says, is a centralized democratic solution that gives patients complete access to their medical information. It combines ubiquitous technologies to improve patients’ check-in and intake experience at medical facilities, while complying with the privacy laws. “I decided to focus on the initial interaction between patients and providers,” he says. “We’re trying to optimize that entire intake process.” With CareWallet, patients will be able to walk into a provider’s office, tap their phone at a terminal and give the provider access to their data. The CareWallet system will verify the patient’s identity and retrieve all the necessary health insurance information. With digital access to all patient’s medical records, Smith says, the provider will have a more holistic picture of their health. CareWallet promotes continuity and consistency of care for all patients, Smith says. It utilizes such technologies as biometric scanning, real-time communication with government and insurance companies’ databases, computer vision, which enables computers to identify people from images, and near field communication technology, used, for example, for mobile payments with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Smith grew up in New Jersey, which, he says, was “pretty boring.” He inherited a deep sense of empathy from his father, he says, and an entrepreneurial spirit from his mother, who grew up in Shanghai, China, and immigrated to the U.S. in her 20s. Smith is convinced that business ventures need to have a purpose and entrepreneurs have to have empathy for people around them to identify “pain points” that their ventures could eliminate. Smith started out as a business administration student at Northeastern. But what put him on an entrepreneurial path, he says, was winning a stipend his freshman year for a Semester in San Francisco program, where he studied entrepreneurial finance. “It completely opened my mind to the world of entrepreneurship, to startup ventures,” Smith says. “Sadly, [it] was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The program gave him the knowledge and confidence, he says, to seize an opportunity that he saw in the beginning of the pandemic. Smith decided to address the shortage of personal protective equipment and quickly connected with international suppliers to import medical-grade masks and filters to the U.S. Evan Smith, a Northeastern senior and entrepreneur, demonstrates CareWallet, a smart phone solution to improve interaction between patients and health care providers by digitizing check-in experience, in the EXP building on Northeastern’s Boston campus on Dec. 11, 2023. . Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University His business was basically done “by hand” in his apartment, Smith says, but he was much more flexible than bigger companies and was able to guarantee delivery to his customers in one to three days. After about six months he decided to wrap up his tiny startup and move on as some major U.S. players started making and selling masks. With the money he made, Smith decided to explore the world. He spent several months traveling to Croatia, Egypt and Lebanon. “I really wanted to learn more about how the world really works,” Smith says. Along the way, he switched his major to international business. While ideating his next business venture, Smith ruminated about the U.S. health care system — why it was inefficient and what parts of it could be enhanced. He thought of the fractionalization of the medical records and the myriad of forms that he had had to fill out at every doctor’s office. To bring his startup idea to life, Smith says, he tried to utilize and leverage all the resources that Northeastern made available to student entrepreneurs. He researched Mosaic, a Northeastern network of student-led organizations that empower the university’s entrepreneurship community, and joined the first cohort of rev, a community of builders, founders, creatives and researchers founded by a group of Northeastern student entrepreneurs. Smith recently incorporated CareWallet, and his team has successfully demonstrated a prototype of their product at an REV gathering at Northeastern’s Boston campus. He is now working with IDEA, a student-led venture accelerator and one of the Mosaic organizations, on CareWallet’s business model and marketing strategy. CareWallet was also accepted into the I-Corps Teams program funded by the National Science Foundation. The program provides researchers with entrepreneurial education, mentoring and funding to accelerate the translation of knowledge derived from fundamental research into emerging products and services. Through I-Corps, Smith’s startup was assigned accomplished advisers with intimate experience in medical research, physicians’ clinical work and health insurance plans and claims. Smith is very grateful for the CareWallet team, he says, that has been working hard on the venture and its product without any compensation for months. “I push myself and my team very hard,” he says. “Everybody is very much inspired by the mission and the opportunity to make a great impact. They’re inspired by the learning opportunity that CareWallet provides them.” Alëna Kuzub is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email her at email@example.com. Follow her on X/Twitter @AlenaKuzub.