Social Innovation

Social innovation is a central theme woven into Kent's professional orientation. As founding director of the award-winning Erie Technology Center (a Chicago-based CTC), Kent developed technology programs to extend education & social services for on-site daycare families, at-risk youth, low-literacy adults, English-as-a-second-Language learners, college-bound teens, and adults requiring job training. As a National Libraries of Medicine Research Fellow, Kent researched clinical workspaces (exam rooms, infusion areas, consultation offices) as social spaces requiring information systems that reflect the social nature of breast cancer consultation and treatment. As a doctoral student in Information Science, Kent probed the role of personal social networks in managing cancer care both at and away from the treatment center. These experiences lead Kent to explore new research areas including social networking systems, self-organizing social networks, collaborative responses to personal crisis, and social support models for emergent personal needs. In Project ECHO Kent facilitates knowledge networks that catalyze clinical care in underserved and rural areas. The principle behind these knowledge networks is capacity-buiding, the notion that through telemedicine and ehealth technologies, primary care clinicians can collaborate with specialists and each other to treat increasingly complex diseases, chronic pain, and addictions. This treatment occurs within community contexts and in many cases obviates the need for patients to travel to specialists, without sacrificing access to quality care. For many underserved patients, such travel for speciality care is prohibitively expensive and contextually fragmented (because it takes place out of the community of residence). For providers, the knowledge networks provide an experiential learning conduit that increases their skills in managing complex health problems, supplies just-in-time access to specialist consultation, and provides much-needed social support connecting clinicians on the front lines of primary care with each other across geography.

Projects & Collaborations


Personal Health
Information Management
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Catalyzing Social Support During Cancer Care
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Founding Director (1995 - 2000) of Erie Technology Center, a community technology center (CTC) providing technology services to critical-need immigrant populations in Chicago within Erie Neighborhood House (a Settlement House founded in 1897) read more >