By Lisa Honebrink, Strategic Communications
While the IT team is back in Portland after the discovery trip to Uganda, their minds and hearts are still focused on the clinicians and refugees they met in Nakivale. This week the Cambia conference room reserved for the hackathon has been abuzz with concentrated energy from the tech team. The seven Cambia and three Medical Teams International employees who traveled to Uganda are joined this week by four additional Cambia IT staff: Paul Roe, Paul Montgomery, Harris Beg and Jodi Zellerhoff.
A hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development and hardware development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week. Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, although in many cases the goal is to create usable software.
They are hard at work building out the pilot Android app they developed based on their discovery trips to Medical Teams clinics throughout the Nakivale refugee settlement.
“The team is in the middle of the build,” reports Project Manager Mark Wyman, “and expect to complete core pieces this week as planned.”
As they continue to build out the initial tech solution for use in the health clinics, acronyms and phrases frequently bandied about include QA, UI, DB, JSON and “happy path.”
Here’s the problem the Cambia and Medical Teams’ tech experts are working to solve. Each clinician is required to capture a list of information for each patient visit -- information required by the United Nations for reports. Currently clinicians are filling out each “tally sheet” by hand and manually totaling the numbers in each field. Just a few examples of the types of information recorded and tallied include the number of males, females, or children under age 5; the number of patients with specific diagnoses such as HIV, malaria, cholera and many more; and ultimately the total number of patients seen.
While each clinician sees as many as 80 patients a day, the amount of paper – and time required to fill it out – is considerable.
By end of the hackathon, the team will have an app ready to hand off to Medical Teams staff, who will develop a plan detailing which clinic in Nakivale they’ll choose to pilot the app and the timeline.
When asked about the significance of the hackathon, Mark Wyman recalls the “courtesy call” visit on the first day in Uganda with government and UN representatives. “They asked me, ‘Why would your company do this for us?’ I explained that Cambia’s mission is to simplify health care – and that’s what this app will do,” said Wyman. “They all nodded, as the want and need to simplify health care is universal.”