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Seton Hall Student Entrepreneurs Take on Big East Startup Challenge

Seton Hall student entrepreneurs competed in the BIG EAST Startup Challenge with their project CareCall Tuesday February 22nd. 

The BIG EAST Startup Challenge is an innovation competition for students among the eleven Big East schools. 

“Student entrepreneurs from each respective school are given the opportunity to present their idea or business model based on market need, value proposition, feasibility and sustainability,” Mazzarelli explains. This year, the competition was hosted by Creighton University through Zoom. 

At the competition, entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a group of panelists composed of experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and Big East alumni that judge each team. 

Theresa Wang, a junior nursing major, said that the Challenge is not merely a competition, but an opportunity for participants to“gain experience and guidance.” 

After three years of work on their project CareCall, the team signed up for the competition to “represent Seton Hall University and in hope to receive advanced feedback on our application, along with how to improve it,” Madison Loustan, a senior nursing major, said.

Project CareCall is an app developed by their team that seeks to replace the current call bell system present in inpatient facilities today. 

“When one is in an acute-care setting, the call bell is the method used to receive necessary attention from the staff,” Loustan explained. 

She adds the problem with this system is that “an individual simply clicks the button and a light signals outside their door that assistance is needed. However, there are no specific details regarding what kind of care the individual may need at that given moment.” 

In response to this issue, the team developed CareCall.

CareCall is designed to be an application available on a bedside tablet, which will allow patients to specify their requests. “In turn, the patient message will be directly streamlined to the appropriate healthcare worker’s smartphone. As a result, the healthcare staff will be held more accountable for their response time,” Loustan said.

“By reducing the number of times the nurse or technician must go into the room, workers will have less exposure to virus and diseases the patients may be battling, so hospitals will reduce wait time and simultaneously increase patient satisfaction,” Wendy Gonzalez, a junior nursing major, said about the benefits of CareCall.  

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The students said CareCall is especially beneficial during the current pandemic because it allows workers to know the exact patient needs through the application.

“This [CareCall] can reduce the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) used and the spread of COVID-19 as workers will be able to minimize traffic in and out of a patient’s room,” Wang said.

The participating Seton Hall student entrepreneurs said they are motivated by their dedication to improve the nursing industry with their project.

 “CareCall will improve patient satisfaction rates, nurse burnout rates, and patient safety,” Katie Mazzarelli, a senior nursing major, said. “Patient satisfaction rates are directly related to hospital reimbursements each year through HCAHPS surveys, making CareCall a long-term investment for hospitals.” 

Accentuating the potential improvements of their application, Gonzalez said, “CareCall seeks to change the call bell system but has the power to change the entire hospital if given the chance to.” 

In addition to improving the nursing industry, Wang highlights the importance of young female entrepreneurship from nursing students like themselves.

“We want to show everyone that we, as nurses, are able to make changes to the challenges in our industry, and we hope to inspire other nurses to become entrepreneurs to improve the healthcare system as a whole,” Wang said. 

The team also expressed their favorite parts in preparing for the BIG EAST Startup Challenge.

“My favorite part has been coming together as a team to evoke a necessary change in our current healthcare system. Each of us are passionate about the healthcare industry for our own individual reasons; however, we all want to succeed in creating a change and promoting nursing entrepreneurship for the future,” Loustan said. 

Apart from collaborating with one another, the team said they are grateful to the Seton Hall faculty members they worked with over the years, especially Dr. Connolly from the College of Nursing and Professor Susan Scherreik-Hynes from Stillman Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

“Without the faculty and resources at this institution, CareCall would still only be an idea,” Loustan added. “My team and I would like to extend a huge thank you to Professor Susan Scherreik-Hynes, as she informed us of this opportunity and has provided us with immense knowledge and guidance along our entrepreneurial journey.”

Though they were not finalists in Tuesday’s Challenge, the team said they are thankful for the opportunity to participate in the competition and are excited to continue the CareCall project.


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