‘Care Van’ Pitch Rides Off With Big Idea Competition

By Keith Gushard
The Meadville Tribune, Pa.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) After learning that 90 percent of the county’s 87,000 residents — or 78,300 people — didn’t have a primary care physician. Liana Leja came up with the idea to use a mobile health care van with a registered nurse to take health care into rural areas.

The Meadville Tribune, Pa.

Entering a collegiate business competition and pitching an idea how to provide better health care to the 90 percent of Crawford County residents who don’t have a primary care physician was something Liana Leja never thought she’d do — let alone potentially see her idea become a reality.

Leja won the 11th Annual Big Idea Competition held by the Center for Business and Economics at Allegheny College for developing a business plan for Meadville Medical Center to use a mobile health care van with a registered nurse to take health care into rural areas.

The mobile van would expand access to health care to county residents, improve treatment of chronic diseases and control the hospital’s costs, according to Leja.

The competition is modeled along the lines of “Shark Tank,” the ABC TV show where budding entrepreneurs present their ideas to business people who made their own ideas into successful businesses.

This year’s competition consisted of 27 teams of one to three students, with 20 teams from Allegheny and seven from Grove City College.

Students presented ideas in one of four categories: for-profit business, nonprofit social venture, research project, or community engagement initiative. Students may work solo or in teams to design 20-minute presentations for their ideas, which they present at the competition. The competition was judged by a panel of Allegheny alumni, as well as two faculty members.

The competition got its start under Chris Allison, a business economics faculty member at Allegheny, who also has been the college’s entrepreneur in residence since 2006. Allison led Tollgrade Communications Inc. from technology startup to a public company. He was with Tollgrade for 16 years including 10 as chairman and chief executive officer.

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