PRHI Sponsors Award Presented at MedHacks as Part of the Patient Safety Technology Challenge

The Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative's (PRHI) Patient Safety Technology Challenge celebrated the completion of the first of many patient safety awards at competitions across the country. As part of the Challenge, PRHI sponsored the "Big Idea: Best Technology-Enabled Patient Safety Solutions" track at MedHacks.

Held September 9th through 11th at Forward U in Baltimore, MD, MedHacks is the nation's premier medical hackathon at Johns Hopkins University – and one of the largest student-run hackathons. Participants come from a variety of different fields, ranging from undergraduate and graduate students to software engineers and medical professionals.

The PRHI-sponsored track was a call to solve the problem of medical error by envisioning the best technology-enabled patient safety solution with the potential to avert patient harm in procedural and surgical errors, diagnostic safety, and errors in routine patient care.

Teams were challenged to present big ideas and consider how they may automate existing technologies to improve patient safety by easing the burden on healthcare workers experiencing burnout and turning over at high rates.

Hackers were given 36 hours to research, code, prototype, and present their work to judges Jonathan Sullivan, vice president of product, National Quality Forum, and Michael McShea, MS, MBA, group chief scientist at Health and Human-Machine Systems, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.

The winning concept was the Wireless Fall Alert System, a wearable fall detection device which alerts emergency contacts through text message when a patient falls. Data collected from the device would be used to prevent future falls based on patterns. As a next step, the team plans to refine their algorithm using machine learning and working on decreasing the size of the chip in their wearable device.

The runner up concept was PneuComp, which targeted the challenge of patient non-compliance with use of Intermittent Pneumatic Compression device for Venous Thromboembolism Prevention (VTP). The group proposed a comfortable and inexpensive inter-process communication (IPC) device that gives the user autonomy with temperature controls and with Bluetooth Low Energy so medical professionals can analyze the data. The team plans to engage clinicians for feedback to further develop their product with end-users.

The third-place concept, Memory Meds, tackled the challenge to patient safety posed when it is unclear what medications a patient is taking. Their app prototype was designed to empower patients to easily document and keep track of their prescriptions to relay that information in healthcare settings.

The two other title tracks at the event were the "Health and Data Science Innovation Track" sponsored by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and "Innovations in Reducing Human Errors and Improving Patient Safety in Hospital Settings" sponsored by John Hopkins School of Nursing's Center for Immersive Learning and Digital Innovation. PRHI was pleased to see the School of Nursing focus on medication errors and infections – two important categories of harm that were worthy of hacking. 

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