We weren't really sure what to expect when we volunteered to host Hoosier Code 4 Health. We had hoped the event would attract some of Indiana's finest IT and Healthcare professionals. And, we hoped that these professionals would be crazy enough to devote their entire weekend--36 hours straight, in some cases-- to developing potential solutions to some common logistical problems associated with the management of chronic diseases.
So, we filled the break room at the Lilly COI Center with plenty of caffeinated beverages and high-carb snacks, and hoped for the best.
We were glad to have the opportunity to meet with so many people who are passionate about technology and transforming healthcare. We are grateful to all the participants, to Social Health Insights and the Indy Chamber for planning the event and to all of our esteemed judges and mentors.
We were not disappointed.
Each team began with a vision, and made a good case for bringing that vision to life. Some teams were there simply to flesh out rough ideas, some were there to set up a framework on which to build their vision, and some were there to begin work on a prototype. One of the things that was interesting to watch was the collaboration among people with diverse skill sets and backgrounds. Mark Stetzer from Team Centric especially appreciated the availability of mentors, who had day-to-day experience working with his project's target audience:
"I've done codeathons before, but never one with a focus like healthcare. Typically it's a bunch of highly-caffeinated developers slinging code with headphones on. This was a really great change of pace because you had actual clinicians and experts in different healthcare fields willing to give your team advice. I haven't seen anything like that at other codeathons."
We don't envy the judges task of having to choose the winners of the event, since all of the ideas seemed to have potential. But, after considering each project's viability and potential impact on patients with chronic disease, two winners were selected. Both of the winning teams took home cash prizes totaling $5,000 and in-kind prizes valued at more than $4,000.
1st Place: Team PatientAssist with MedMaid
Team PatientAssist, made up of PatientAssist CEO and Founder Willie Pritchett and freelance front end designer Carolyn Bernier, drew on personal experience to come up with the idea for their personal pill assistant mobile application.
At one time or another, many of us have had trouble remembering to take a medication as prescribed. MedMaid aims to help by allowing you to set up an account listing your medications with the days and times you need to take them. MedMaid will not only remind you when a dose is due, but will also reward you for keeping up with your pill regimen. Each time you log into the app and report an activity, you get points, which you could eventually trade in for prizes.
The team definitely got off to a good start during the codeathon. The pair had never met before the event, and credit part of their success to their luck in finding a teammate with both great skills and good spirit of collaboration. They both agreed that "coming together and creating something that could change people's health and well-being is a really great feeling."
Since our main focus at Lilly COI is in the area of clinical research, we can't help but think of the possibilities a tool like MedMaid could bring to clinical trials. Difficulties complying with the trial's protocol specifications--dosage schedules, number of visits to the study site,etc.-- are some of the reasons cited by volunteers who drop out of clinical trials early. An app like MedMaid has potential to remove the burden of remembering how and when to take their medicine. In addition, it could also make it possible for patients to self-report their adherence to the treatment protocol without having to travel to the site.
You can follow the team's progress with their app on Twitter at @MedMaidApp.
2nd Place: Team Centric with Carefindr.com
Leading up to the codeathon, Mark Stetzer, Praneet Loke and Ben Chestnut, a.k.a. Team Centric, did some research into some of the biggest barriers to patient care. They found that many people have chronic conditions that go untreated. The reasons? Cost and location. Many patients fear the high price tag that can come with managing a disease. Others may live in a rural area where the distance to the nearest health-care facility is prohibitive.
So, Team Centric decided to use recently released Medicare data to develop a tool that allows patients to search for hospitals and clinics that are near to them based on their geographic location. The can also tailor the search to rank the facilities by cost and reported patient outcomes.
The app has implications for patients who want to find the best care at the best possible price, and for service providers who could use the data gathered by the site to determine the best places to open new facilities. For example, if the data from the app says that a large number of people are searching for diabetic clinics near a particular location, a pharmacy chain may decide it would be prudent to open a store with clinic there.
The same principles used to design this app could be applied to building resources that help patients find clinical trials. A potential trial volunteer could search for study sites that are near to them, and choose one based on factors that are relevant to them: disease type, treatment type, distance, cost (where applicable), pay rate (where applicable), quality of the facility, etc.
As for the future of Carefindr, the team says that they would like to eventually see the app get adopted by hospitals and pharmacies in an effort to add quality and value for patients. Team member Praneet Loke added that he'd like to "at the very least, turn this whole experience into opportunities for Centric that would allow us to develop this idea full time."
Open Innovation Works
We came away from Hoosier Code 4 Health, feeling even more confident in the power of open models of work. When groups of people with different skills, backgrounds and perspectives come together, they are able to develop well-rounded and dynamic solutions. Many of the resources that are currently made available to clinical trial volunteers are developed by sponsors and investigators and aren't necessarily written from the perspective of a person without a medical research background. This needs to change.
Right now, we're offering the Clinical Trial Visualization ReDesign Challenge to try to bring more of the magic of open innovation into the clinical trial space. Sign up for the challenge and lend your insights and expertise to improving the patient's experience in clinical research, and help to bring the patient perspective to clinical trial research.
Thanks to the codeathon, we've seen even more evidence that collaboration and open innovation can lead to great outcomes and potentially lead to better options for clinical trial participants. We will continue engaging with patients, researchers, technologists and others who can contribute as we work in the open to explore ways to improve clinical drug development.