Interprofessional student team advances to televised round of ‘Greenlight Maine’ challenge

From left: Pablo De La Guardia Criado, Morgan Dube, and Matt Harkins
From left: Pablo De La Guardia Criado, Morgan Dube, and Matt Harkins.

An interprofessional team of University of New England students will advance to the televised round of the “Greenlight Maine” Collegiate Challenge, a televised competition that pits students’ business ideas against each other for the chance to win $10,000 in kickstart money.

Morgan Dube (M.S. Physician Assistant, ’22), Pablo De La Guardia Criado (Business, ’21) and Matt Harkins (Exercise Science, ’22) have taped the pitch for their app Ready Set Return, which, when completed, will assist health care professionals in their assessment of clients returning to sport post-ACL reconstruction.

The app, which is under development, will aid health professionals in the decision-making process of clearing their patients for sport by scoring them on various criteria based on current research.

“The idea is that the app will give patients a percentage of where they are at in the recovery process,” said Dube, a certified athletic trainer. “It’s designed to help ensure health care professionals are making the right decision so that the athletes reduce their risk of reinjuring themselves.”

The app’s capabilities would help athletes like Harkins, who said a knee injury in high school and difficult access to quality rehabilitation still affect him to this day.

Harkins hopes the app will bridge the gap in providing access to quality care, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

“It's very difficult for many athletes that have suffered injuries to get the proper care and everything that they need to return properly, and I think our app does a really good job at giving clear outcome goals,” he said. “The fact that patients can easily access their recovery progress right on their phones is excellent, and I feel like that's kind what the current rehabilitation process lacks: accessibility.”

Dube said that, with pandemic’s end still not in sight, digital health technologies will only become more critical for patients who are not able to meet with their health providers.

“It’s a bit harder for some individuals to get access to health care, especially in rural areas, because of COVID-19,” she said. “And a lot of athletes are losing access to their athletic trainers because they’re not in school. We really wanted to address that, and we believe that our app will help increase communication between different health care professionals and allow athletes to utilize their services remotely.”

Work on the app has provided De La Guardia Criado a crash course in design. He is currently using Adobe XD to develop a working prototype and test its interface — prize money would fund development of the full application — and said he’s confident it will fit its users’ needs.

“While access to quality health care was one of our main concerns, so were the subjectivity and inconsistencies between providers that patients can face when seeking care,” he said. “Our app is going to allow patients to have clear evidence and tests that are going to be able to tell them, ‘Yes, we think we have the evidence that you are ready to go.’”

This is not UNE’s first experience with the “Greenlight Maine” Collegiate Challenge. Earlier this year, Jillian Robillard, B.S. ’20 (Marine Entrepreneurship), took home the $25,000 grand prize with her innovative lobster bait business Green Bait.

Justine Bassett, M.S., director of the P.D. Merrill Makerspace, which is supporting Ready Set Return, said she was excited to see another dedicated group of students step up to the challenge in support of their entrepreneurial endeavor.

“The students may come from different academic programs, but they all have had experience as athletes. They understand why it's important for athletes to return to sport safely and brought that into their pitch,” Bassett said. “This kind of interprofessional collaboration is a strength here at UNE. I’m so proud of what this team has accomplished in such a short time, and I can't wait to see where they go next.”

The Ready Set Return team’s episode is expected to air on Thursday, April 1, on Maine Public Television.

A sample image of the app login page
An example of a patient's test results