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Stanford University School of Medicine

Patient innovation: The little wristband that could

Ben Bell, an ambitious New Zealander teen, gets lost.

That is, he did get lost -- as an 11-year-old wandering through the hospital, looking for his dad. When Bell finally found himself in a recovery room, he was struck by the idea that his dad's plastic hospital wristband could be ever so much more useful. It could contain a tracking mechanism that visitors could connect with on their smartphones, saving hospital staff the trouble of giving directions, and saving concerned family members the additional stress of being lost in endless corridors. It could also give patients secure, personalized access to vending machines and medicine lockers. The ideas flowed.

It took a few more years before Bell had the gumption and resources -- at age 15 -- to start making his inspiration a reality. He crowdsourced $6,000, did a lot of research, completed an internship with the New Zealand government, delivered a TedX talk, and developed the startup Wellbands.

At Thursday's Health Care Innovation Summit, Bell addressed the crowd to share his bright idea. As he told the New Zealand news site Stuff earlier this month, "not only can [Wellbands] help families and friends find loved ones, it can also provide incredibly useful patient data for hospitals..." The article also quotes someone who knows Bell well that "Ben's determination, vision and drive mark him as an innovator to be reckoned with." Indeed.

Previously: "The patient will see you now": A summit on consumer-centered health-care innovation and Medicine X, the academic conference where "everyone is included" returns
Photo courtesy of Stanford Medicine X

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