A version of this post originally appeared in The Huffington Post.
I don’t know how many hundreds of technology challenges I’ve heard from doctors over the years. Among those, having the sufficient data they need to tailor individualized treatment plans and to prevent delayed diagnosis are among pain points most frequently mentioned.
Last May, Health Tech Masters Students at Cornell Tech and Emergency Medicine residents at NY-Presbyterian aimed to bridge the gap between technologists and clinicians by hosting a first-ever conference of its kind: one that emphasizes the use of mobile devices to conduct medical research.
The ResearchSuite Conference, organized by chief emergency medicine resident Mark Shankar, took place at NY-Presbytarian Hospital in New York City and brought together over 50 physicians and engineers passionate about the emergence of mobile health for medical research studies. The gathering explored the use of ResearchSuite in this collaboration, referring to the suite of tools available to create applications for medical research. This includes frameworks like Apple’s ResearchKit and ResearchStack, whose development was led by Cornell Tech Professor Deborah Estrin to create Android applications that serve a similar purpose.
Estrin, who provided the keynote address at the conference, also shared her excitement about the collaboration. During the opening preliminary, she described her personal experience as discussed in her TEDMED talk all the hurdles she faced attempting to gather data about her ill father before the end of his life that led to her renewed interest into mobile health.
After learning about smartphones and wearables data gathering capabilities from students at Cornell Tech, resident physicians matched with technologists to create research studies for a few areas that relate to the patient populations the clinicians frequently see: Congestive Heart Failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and Pneumonia. Groups then formed frameworks for studies using the PICO method: identifying the patient population, intervention, control, and outcome of how a mobile research study could be generated.
It was a first stride towards a partnership between our organizations we hope endures and thrives. Interdisciplinary teamwork to solve challenging tech problems is fundamental to Cornell Tech’s Studio Curriculum, and many of us hope to become ambassadors to spread this way of thinking as discussed in our required reading for Studio: Sprint. All in attendance were thrilled that engineers and subject matter experts could come together to create meaningful outcomes in just a couple hours. In the end, I’m confident and hopeful to see other similar synergies between technologists and clinicians in the future.
You can view my slides from the conference here.