AP NEWS

UNC student creates app that connects users with free or affordable healthcare

June 3, 2019

A new phone app created by a local student connects people to their nearest free or affordable healthcare clinic.

Aneesh Agarwal is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an interest in technology and public health.

“Social innovation has been a part of me for a long time,” said Agarwal, who is on a mission for social change in medicine with his Clinic Locator app.

“I was shocked to learn that 10 percent of the population doesn’t have health insurance -- so that was 30 million people across the country who just don’t have access to good, quality, affordable care.”

According to Agarwal, the app introduces users to the free or affordable clinics that are closest to them. He said many people just aren’t aware of the many healthcare options available to them.

“There were a lot more clinics that are free or low cost than I expected,” Agarwal said. “I didn’t expect for there to be that many.”

Maps in the app reveal healthcare providers in large cities, rural areas of the state and beyond.

“It has over 1,000 clinics logged in across the nation, with actually quite a few of those being in North Carolina,” Agarwal said.

According to Agarwal, the clinics have to meet certain requirements to be on his app.

“You’re not turned away based on your ability to pay -- or what service you may need,” he said.

Agarwal’s family background is in medicine, and it’s why he believes healthcare should never be out of reach. The innovation scholar in UNC’s entrepreneurship program plans on a career in medicine.

“Everybody ought to be able to access some kind of healthcare that’s high quality and that’s close to them that is affordable,” Agarwal said.