Wharton Around the Globe: Battling Congenital Hypothyroidism in Rural India

Contributor: Susan Kim, WG ’17
To learn more about Susan, click here.


WhartonAroundGlobe.jpgThe Wharton Global Health Volunteers (WGHV) provides Wharton students with unique opportunities to apply their professional skills toward servicing healthcare systems and organizations in the developing world in consulting engagements spanning two to three weeks. This past winter break, seven members of the Wharton Global Health Volunteers (WGHV) teamed up with Swasti, a health resource center established in 2002 focused on achieving public health outcomes for those who are socially excluded and underprivileged. Swasti develops, pilots, and scales innovative models to address the behavioral, social, and systems-based determinants of health.

The Wharton team traveled to Bangalore, India to develop a business plan for Swasti’s FDA-approved device (i-calQ) that attaches to a smart phone and tests newborns’ blood for thyroid function. This device will help detect congenital hypothyroidism that, if not treated in the first month of life, can lead to mental retardation and significantly decreased IQ.

The scope of the project was restricted into five components:

  1. computation of i-calQ’s social return on investment to identify, measure, and quantify the additional environmental and social returns that would be gained in India, especially rural India where many are unable to afford/travel to facilities to test their newborns for hypothyroidism
  2. legal research regarding licensing, healthcare, and environmental regulations that are required in India for this type of medical device
  3. market research and competitive analysis of other global companies with similar missions of testing congenital hypothyroidism
  4. analysis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) channel, as companies must spend 2% of their revenues on CSR initiatives; although Swasti is a nonprofit organization, we wanted to explore i-calQ’s different revenue stream possibilities
  5. creation of a financial model and break-even analysis based on a series of factors to be utilized in upcoming pitch decks for venture capitalists

The team was able to offer several recommendations to advance the widespread adoption of i-calQ in India,s along with a financial model to calculate icalQ’s social return on investment. Swasti plans to use this business plan moving forward to seek funding from social entrepreneurs, VCs, and other donors.

Client feedback following the team’s presentation and deliverables: “The Wharton team did a good job in analyzing the market for i-calQ. Even though they had less than 10 days to understand the scenarios and provide their inputs, they did a commendable job. Some of the questions the team asked us, really got us thinking. We wish the team all the best in their careers, and we look forward to another engagement with Wharton.”

All members of the WGHV that were selected to participate this past winter would like to thank our alumni for assisting in making this trip possible. We all had a very meaningful and memorable experience in India and feel fortunate that we were able to dedicate our winter break towards assisting a non-profit focused on improving the healthcare landscape in India. It certainly was an eye opener being able to witness firsthand how innovation and support can and will turn a dream into a reality, potentially saving and benefiting many lives moving forward. WGHV was able to provide all of the voluneers with immeasurable first-hand experiences of the healthcare landscape in the developing world, helping solidify and enhance many of our long-term goals toward increasing the accessibility and affordability of healthcare both domestically and internationally. 


From left to right, top to bottom, Edgar Iskandar (WG ’16), Emily Balmert (WG ’16), Shefali Vijaywargiya, Abhishek Singhal, Raul Estrada (WG ’17), Mitesh Shridhar (WG ’17), Sankalp Jain, Susan Kim (WG ’17), & Fiona Tang (WG ’17)



Contact Susan at: [email protected]