The healthcare system is tedious for patients and healthcare professionals to navigate through. Whether it’s waiting for a while to get your documents transferred or losing money due to inefficiencies, Brace aims to give patients to be in charge of their healthcare. If you’re a person who sees many physicians and don’t want to repeat the story, or if you have certain needs such as epilepsy or autism, it’s important that the right people know so they can help you. Wellbeing of one includes the whole system at play.
In addition, the team wanted to try their luck at a hardware hack (although the device can be created as a pure software project).
What it does
Brace is a medical bracelet for everyday lifestyle that stores important patient information, such as pain tracking, medication, and recent visits, with separate interfaces for patients and medical providers. This is very useful for those who see many physicians who do not have access to their lengthy medical profile, or if the patient is someone whose care requires extra care, especially in an emergency situation (i.e. epilepsy, autistic, and other extenuating circumstances).
Should a patient wearing Brace require immediate medical assistance, emergency care givers would be able to reduce the amount of time required to assess the situation by scanning Brace with their mobile device to receive a quick report of the patient’s medical history and medication regimen. The time saved and additional accurate information could greatly increase the patient’s chances at a full recovery.
When a patient has to visit a variety of doctors and specialists, it can be troublesome to wait for caregivers to update the patient’s files and share them between medical providers. It can also be burdensome for the patient to have to remember to bring all their own files to remember their medical regimen and history if it is not known by heart. Brace can also help save time and provide up to date information for regular check ups and make the transition between doctors simpler. This also improves the relationship between patient and doctor.
This information, however, would not be accessible to all. Encrypting the patient’s data and using authentication and permissions enables the user to protect their private information. Decryption keys would be given only to authorized medical providers. In addition, trusted contacts will be notified through an SMS message that the patient’s medical information has been accessed in an emergency situation.
In addition to providing information, Brace has a patient interface where users can log changes in their medication, health and comfort. Main functions include tracking things such as their pain, physical health, emotional health, and mental health; recording doctor visits (which is very useful for patients seeing many specialists), and a log of medical records to input .pdf or .txt files.
How we built it
Our solution consists of both hardware and software components.
We used a RFID RC522 sensor with the Arduino UNO to interface with a phone's NFC reader. The hardware components represented a prototype of the medical bracelet and the patient/doctor physical access key.
The patient web interface to access information was designed in Figma. The design was intended to be for users with varying capabilities, so clear contrasting design principles were in place (in font, colours, etc.); the simpler, the better. The health practioner’s app was built in the Xcode IDE in Swift, and used Twilio API to send automated SMS receipts to the patient's trusted contacts.
Challenges we ran into
The RFID RC522 sensor was not able to send the NDEF messages we intended to have the phone read, as NDEF operates on pure NFC sensors. Had we had access to NFC readers such as Adafruit PN532 RFID/NFC Shield, the hack would have been to completion that the group expected. As well, though the backend developer of the app used Apple, the NFC reading apps worked best on Android phones.
Because of this, the synchronization between the reader and the phone were not perfect, so a hardware synchronization (USB transfer) or cloud-based is recommended.
Twilio caused some security issues in the backend development of the doctor’s app, resulting in many, many, many, many, many technical difficulties. For example, we were having issues with authorization on a Macbook due to Twilio being an “external application”, which resulted in issues with SMS message sending and doctor application synchronization.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Managing to learn the Twilio API in 10 hours, along with how to incorporate it into the Xcode app development process (as the team wasn’t familiar with coding in Swift in the first place, let alone making Twilio API calls in that language/incorporating the necessary libraries).
Creating a pretty snazzy looking web app/UI that’s easy for users to navigate.
What we learned
Sending SMS is harder than we thought - but worth the pain in the end :) Baby Yoda is my savior Hardware hacks are a great test! I hate windows command prompt Environment variables r weird RFID and NFC are similar, but different.
What's next for Brace
The great thing about Brace is that it is a hack that is very versatile, and has a lot of potential to expand. Expansions of Brace can include: Exporting the data in the web app using a .pdf tool; Sending the data via Bluetooth; Logging with voice to text recognition; Notification system to remind patients on their every day lifecycle; Cloud based synchronization to bracelet; Sophisticated encryption tools.