When Marissa Mengelkoch ’21 learned that 88 percent of human trafficking survivors were seen by a healthcare provider while being exploited, she developed a business plan to improve health outcomes for victims.
Traffick Trigger is an artificial intelligence technology that generates a potential victim score so medical professionals can better identify possible victims, which ultimately results in proper interventions.
“The software identifies red flags in a patient file, which correlates to a score that is added together to create an overall victim score,” Marissa said. “The system passively analyzes information being entered and works in conjunction to the electronic health records already in place at hospitals.”
Unfortunately, 97% of survivors indicated they were never provided with information or resources about human trafficking while being seen by healthcare providers.
While Traffick Trigger is analyzing patient data, if the patient’s score rises to about a 70, an icon will appear on the screen indicating for the provider to click on it to receive next steps in the process. Suggested courses of action could include providing educational resources, connecting them with community partners such as social workers, isolating the patient from their companion, or respecting the patient’s wishes if they do not wish to give detail on their current circumstance.
Marissa, who graduated with a degree in Healthcare Administration and minors in business and religion, is currently studying for her Master’s in Business Administration at FSC. She also works as a graduate assistant under the Director of the Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Justin Heacock.
Traffick Trigger is in the development phase and Marissa is utilizing the Seed-to-Scale program at Florida Southern to work on her business plan for the software.
“I’ve never been much of an innovator or entrepreneur,” said Marissa. “I credit Justin and my healthcare professors for inspiring me to pursue these ideas.”
With the Seed-to-Scale program students can develop a startup idea, create prototypes to test customer demand, and build their company to scale. The business school launched FSC’s first startup accelerator in the Spring 2022 semester.
Mentors at FSC are not the only people who see incredible potential in Marissa’s idea. She presented her business plan at the Florida Blue Health Innovation Challenge and won third place in addition to $2,500.
The prize money will go toward software development, creating a fully functioning prototype, and testing.
Marissa also plans to present Traffick Trigger at the Governor’s Cup Competition, which is Florida’s premier collegiate pitch competition. Institutions like Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Tampa will be competing at the Governor’s Cup as well.
The competition, which is hosted by the Roundtable of Entrepreneurship Educators of Florida (REEF), will take place Friday and Saturday, May 21-22, at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Marissa will present her award-winning business plan to other entrepreneurs from across the state, while networking with students from other colleges.
“It is a great opportunity to meet new people,” Marissa said about the competitions. “I want to work in healthcare, and I never would have met executives from Florida Blue if it wasn’t for the Innovation Challenge.”
Engaged learning opportunities are a part of Florida Southern’s mission to produce students who will make a positive and consequential impact on society, but they are also a way for students to gain confidence in their fields.
“It gives students like Marissa the confidence to believe in themselves and their ideas,” Justin said. “It allows students to come up with an idea, market it, and engage with investors and entrepreneurs who can help make the idea possible.”
Learn more about engaged learning at FSC.