New Student Apps Encourage Users to Go Nuts over Healthcare

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

There is a new app on the market that encourages users to go nuts over healthcare, complete with a squirrely mascot. Created by the founders of Accordion Health and dubbed the “health nuts,” the two new apps, Pistachio and Chestnut, bring medical care back under the control, and into the palms of, users and patients.

WNCG students and alumni Joyce Ho and Yubin Park founded Accordion Health with help from their WNCG faculty advisors, Profs. Sriram Vishwanath and Joydeep Ghosh. The student startup began as an entry in the 2014 Health Datapalooza, a national conference focused on bringing together startups, IT professionals and the public and private sectors involved in healthcare decision-making.

The WNCG team placed second in the competition, out of hundreds of submissions, for their iPhone app designed to help patients locate affordable healthcare options and budget for healthcare costs. Recently, the original app received a makeover and re-emerged as Chestnut.  

According to Cofounder Joyce Ho, Chestnut enables patients to budget healthcare costs by providing average prices for procedures based on doctors and locations. The app also helps patients estimate out-of-pocket costs based on healthcare needs.

The second and newest app, Pistachio, is a web app that matches medicare advantage plans to potential users. Through a series of questionnaires, Pistachio matches users with a medicare plan aligned with their personal needs and goals.

To test their apps, Accordion Health, which has now grown to include undergraduate and graduate students from the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Computer Sciences, brought their pack of nuts to the UT campus for a day of demonstrations and market research.

“This is our first user testing,” Accordion Health Cofounder Yubin Park states. “We’re getting excellent feedback, even down to little details we hadn’t considered previously. After today, I realize how much work our developers and designers have left to do. This was a great opportunity for market research.”

Prof. Joydeep Ghosh, an Accordion Health faculty advisor, stated the app must be tested on various age groups and populations to make sure it responds to medical needs. Accordion Health founders are currently seeking volunteers of all ages to test the software, including more people who fall within the medicare age-range. According to Prof. Ghosh, design considerations, down to the details of font size, must also be considered and adjusted accordingly.

As the company grows, Joyce Ho mentions, the founders hope to continue adding new faces in the form of new applications to Accordion Health’s profile. 

“There are an infinite number of nuts to crack when it comes to healthcare applications,” Ho states.

ECE student Carlos Guillen, an undergraduate researcher working on the Pistachio project, agrees. 

“If we ever run out of nuts or healthcare applications to crack,” Guillen states, “We’d be doing really well as a company. In that case, I’d know we ‘made it.’”

Currently, Accordion Health is organizing the first-ever enterprise-centric healthcare event. The Employer Health Conference (EHC) will take place at the ATI Auditorium in Austin, Texas on June 4, 2015. Speakers include members from the UT Dell Medical School, Seton and St. David’s hospitals, Mercer, National Instruments, the Texas Department of Transportation, Jones Day, the UT System and other businesses from central Texas.

For more information about the upcoming conference, visit To find out more about Accordion Health, visit

To view a complete slideshow from the demo day, click the image below.