By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
With all these Hackathons and startup challenges, we should not get these youths and coders to recycle old tired ideas that even when fully implemented will not change our daily lives.
Imagine if you would get a girl for a date and on day 1, an app lets you know whether she has a Sexually transmitted disease or not, That`s what we call bespoke technology for an STD ridden generation.
We found this article interesting.
The safest man to have sex with in America lives in Los Angeles. He has been working on “the social side of technology” for some years now. And, he was slapped by a date who thought he had a sexually transmitted disease.
Ramin Bastani did not forget the slap. In fact, as things mostly go nowadays, that slap resulted in an app.
Fresh out of a four-year relationship, the thirty-seven-year-old USC grad had brought a girl back to his place after sharing a couple of drinks with her, an evening two years ago. Things were “getting hot” and they were inching their way towards the bedroom.
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“She asked me:”what’s your deal?”, recounts Bastani. That, in case you did not know it already, is code for STD status. Bastani is HIV negative, but he hesitated because he did not have proof. His date misunderstood Bastani’s hesitation and slapped him.
Bastani has atoned for that night in more ways than one.
He has been tested not once, not twice, but fifty times in the last “couple of years.” In the process, he has been crowned “The safest man to have sex with in America.” And, he has developed Hula, an app that lets users find their nearest STD test center to get themselves tested and share their results with potential partners.
A Yelp For STD Testing
“The entire goal of the app is to make STD testing suck less,” says Bastani.
It comprises two parts. The first part consists of a database of STD health providers, starting with those closest to user’s location. Bastani used commonly-available online tools such as Google GOOG -0.36% and Yelp to construct this database. Once users locate their local healthcare provider, Hula helps them get electronic records of their test results by autopopulating complex HIPAA forms and faxing the request to providers.
In the future, Bastani wants to include a rating and ranking system for healthcare providers. According to him, this would convert his app into a “Yelp for STD testing services.” Thus, health care providers which refuse to share electronic records for STD test results (which are permitted under HIPAA) or providers with a bad customer service rep will receive lower ratings and negative reviews. “We are crowdsourcing non-compliant health care providers,” says Bastani.
The second part of the app consists of sharing test results with potential partners. Hula already integrates with popular dating websites such as Grindr and Okcupid. Site users can “zip” or “unzip” their test results for potential partners. “Zip has a modern, flirtatious feel to it,” says Bastani.
To be sure, this is not the first time that dating sites will include STD test results. Most popular dating sites, such as OKCupid, Match, and Grindr, already request users to include their HIV status. However, Bastani says those results are not authenticated by healthcare providers. According to him, Hula is different because it provides results that can be verified.
HIPAA Roots And A Case For “User Empowerment”
It is easy to club the app with the slew of messaging apps, such as Snapchat and Bang With Friends, that have become infamous for sexting. In fact, Bastani also markets the app as such: he begins presentations with a question: Who wants to get laid?
But, Hula’s roots are less risque. The app is an evolution of Qpid.me – an app that worked with consumers to get their health records from providers. The trigger for that app was HIPAA and new rules that enabled patients to access their electronic healthcare records online.
HIPAA’s adoption has been stymied due to a mix of privacy concerns and the possibility of data breaches. For example, consumer advocates have expressed concern over the possibility of sensitive health care information being made available to third-party providers. According to them, this increases chances of the data being misused. Similarly, multiple data breaches have also increased concerns around sharing of such information.
But, recent societal trends, such as the rise of a hook up culture and proliferation of online dating sites and apps, balance the equation. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans who used an online dating site increased from three percent in 2008 to eleven percent in 2013. That number increases to thirteen percent, if you include mobile app users. Another survey by the same organization stated that the number of online “content creators” (or people who use blogs, messaging apps, and social networks to create content) has increased to 46 percent from 41 percent a few years ago.
Considering these numbers, I asked Bastani whether his app promoted promiscuity amongst youth. He says that Hula is about “user empowerment and behavioral change” as it encourages users to get tested often. In LA (where he is based), Bastani has tied up with major civic organizations, such as the Los Angeles Unified School District, to conduct camps for sexual awareness. Of course, his earlier stint working with healthcare providers has helped him understand the nuances of HIPAA well. “We have been battling HIPAA for a couple of years now,” he says.
In the meanwhile, he has been steady with a new girlfriend for over a year now. And, No. She has not slapped him
more on that here from the source