Track: Global Management of Chronic Disease
The initial inspiration for this project came from MedHacks mentor Dr. Muhammad Darwish, MD. Dr. Darwish is a Syrian physician who has worked extensively with Syrian refugees and the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR). He spoke eloquently about the challenges that refugees face when seeking out medical care. The UNHCR’s Global Trends Report estimates that there are nearly 70.8 million displaced people around the world fleeing from war, violence and persecution. These individuals often find shelter in neighboring countries in refugee camps, where they face limited access to regular healthcare and health screening, as camp clinics are often understaffed and unable to meet the needs of the local refugee community.
Due to this limited access to care, noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension are often underdiagnosed within the refugee population, and refugees suffer from from increased morbidity and mortality related to otherwise preventable diseases. Dr. Darwish has worked with UNHCR-affiliated NGOs serving refugee populations, and he detailed many of the challenges these NGOs face, including the lack of resources to adequately train more health workers to canvass within the refugee population, perform basic health screening, and provide vital, accurate, and clinically meaningful data that NGOs can use in order to better target their resources in a more efficient way so they can better serve the local population.
These gaps in care need to be addressed, and they present a tremendous opportunity to make a true impact in the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Enter the HTN web app.
What it does
HTN is a web application that provides services to two kinds of end users: community health workers and NGOs. The community health workers use the app to ensure reliable measurement of blood pressure as well as to submit information to a centralized database which then gets displayed to NGOs in the form of a map with marker overlay to enable selective intervention in areas that most require it.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
- Leaving aside the challenge of choosing a name for the team/project (we are 4 highly opinionated people), it was rough getting Flask's wrapper for MongoDB to play nice with the server. We ultimately went with just storing the data as a JSON file as a temporary fix with the intention of eventually adding MongoDB support.
- We struggled a fair bit to think of a solution we could craft in 20 hours (we spent the initial 16 on a different project before deciding it had a flawed premise) that would actually have a social impact, or at the very least have the potential to.
- As mentioned above, we decided to pivot ideas midway through the hackathon because we weren't satisfied with our original project. 36 hours are not a whole lot to come up with meaningful solutions to begin with, and convincing ourself that switching gears was the right thing to do was not easy.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
-We’re proud of how we were able to get a working full-stack prototype in such a short amount of time, as we spent our first 16 hours working on an idea that we ended up shelving due to mentor feedback -We’re proud that we built an application that has a positive social, global impact and tackles a real-world problem posed by someone who knows first-hand about the need for solving it.
What we learned
Working on this project through the weekend was an incredible learning experience, and we learned more than we could possibly detail on one page, but here are some highlights:
What's next for Hypertension Tracking Network
- We didn't get a chance to connect our application to MongoDB like we originally planned to, but that would be our first step to ensure scalability.
- We do not just want to limit ourselves to global management of hypertension, but rather expand to include as many chronic diseases as humanly possible.
- We would like to introduce offline support on an Android/iOS application so that our service can be used even in areas without internet. This might mean the blood pressure form is saved and submitted later, or the tutorial can be saved beforehand.