Visualization of a Pandemic: The Future of Public Health
2020 looks very different from how we imagined it to be. Many believed it was to be a revival of the economic and cultural splendor of the American roaring twenties, while others thought it would be another decade of technological revolution. Instead, 2020 has reminded us to be thankful for our loved ones and for our health. To be empathetic to others. To support the communities we live in. We are reminded of technology’s original, truest purpose: to protect and improve life.
Since his time at the University of Michigan, alumnus Inder Singh, has been creating initiatives with these values in mind. From founding U-M’s Dance Marathon, to negotiating for greater accessibility to malaria medicines in developing nations, Inder has been working to improve the world we live in through a combination of philanthropy, business, and advanced science. Today, Inder and his company Kinsa Health are entirely focused on advancing early outbreak detection through the strategic deployment of user-reported data.
His journey began between his junior and senior years at U-M. In between his pursuit of dual degrees in Economics and Bioengineering, Inder took his step toward improving our world through the creation of Dance Marathon.
“I remember this amazing feeling of being a part of an organization that has had such an impact on the lives of children in need, and their families,” he said.
Today, this organization is the largest student-run non-profit organization on campus, and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. After graduation, Inder continued to make healthcare more affordable and more accessible to millions by working in Africa to research AIDS and malaria, and then through the Clinton Foundation.
“After my time in Africa, I approached the Clinton Foundation trying to volunteer, and they offered me a job instead,” he said. “I lived out of a suitcase travelling from country to country, brokering deals to improve the accessibility of life saving malaria medicine.”
Negotiating with manufacturers to lower their prices was not an easy task. It required intensive travel, impeccable rhetorical skills, the ability to understand the limitations of the pharmaceutical industry’s market position, and to then execute complicated amelioration plans.
“It was the hardest job I’ve ever had, but eventually we were able to promise manufacturers lower risks for price reductions,” Inder recalled.
Under the Clinton Foundation, Inder was able to provide HIV/AIDS treatment to 600,000 children, and delivered more than $1.5 billion in price reductions to the underserved populations of the world. Today, he uses the same passion and strategic skills to serve the people of the United States.
“I use my business and logistics skills to improve access to life saving medicines, he said. “That’s how I got into infectious disease, and where Kinsa Health was born.”
Kinsa Health was founded in 2012, and has seen exponential growth with society’s recent reemphasis on public health. Although Kinsa Health is one of Amazon’s top smart thermometer companies, their true core competency lies in the bioinformatics systems and tools available to the general public to aid early outbreak detection. Before Kinsa, communities never had the resources to understand when and where an outbreak would strike, or how devastating it would be.
“The world operated with zero information about when and where infectious disease outbreaks are starting,” Inder said.“We have early detection for every other kind of disaster – hurricanes, earthquakes, asteroids. Never before have we been able to even have an infectious disease early warning system, but now we can.”
Every Kinsa Smart Thermometer user serves as a datapoint. It detects user location, average temperature, and determines whether a user is healthy, or may be a potential outbreak patient.
“The thermometer is connected to an app that is essentially a triage system,” Inder said. “It aggregates data from the Kinsa user network of millions, and for every thermometer distributed, we now have better geographic hotspotting tools for the health system and for the country.”
Through its bestselling Smart Thermometer and HealthWeather software, Kinsa Health enables the visualization of outbreaks in real time, and enables the government to precisely understand where public health resources need to be focused – down to the zip code.
Individual cases of an outbreak are aggregated in Kinsa’s HealthWeather software, which allows site users to see where outbreaks are occurring, and how severe they are. With this revolutionary information at their fingertips, everyday Americans can now understand their exact risk of exposure and use information to make better, more informed health decisions.
“Our mission since conception has been to curb the spread of infectious illness through early detection and early response, and this truly works,” Inder said.
Kinsa Health imagines a future where schools can open their doors again, safely informed by outbreak data reported from their own school district zip codes. A future where governments can smartly allocate essential resources based on verified need, not general guesses. A future where the United States can stop future pandemics before they even begin – all made possible through the power of information technology.
Inder’s career has touched millions of lives all around the globe. From establishing a fundraising legacy here in Ann Arbor, to improving international accessibility to life-saving medicines, to pioneering twenty first century tools which may prevent an epidemic – Inder Singh has changed the way the world thinks about healthcare. For him, the greatest feeling is knowing he has made a lasting difference on the way everyday people think about their health and their communities.
“In life everyone finds satisfaction from different things,” he said. “For me, the greatest satisfaction is knowing I’ve made an impact.”
Inder was recently a guest speaker for the CFE’s Entrepreneurship Hour course, where he described his journey from U-M’s Dance Marathon to Kinsa Health. See an excerpt of his discussion below.