The idea for this project came from a place close to home. Our team member's mom was recently forced to come to terms with the fact that her blood pressure levels were dangerously high. She balked at taking medication at first, feeling as if she would lose control over her own body, but eventually gave in at the doctor’s insistence.

For the past year, blood pressure medications have been constantly recalled, making headlines constantly. However, our team member only became even more anxious whenever they clicked on a news article to read the details, as they were never sure if their mom’s particular medication was part of the recall, eventually inspiring the premise for our app.

What it does

Med-Data is a mobile app that allows users to enter a list of medications in their household, from prescription drugs to over-the-counter. Whenever the name of their medication matches with an FDA drug recall, the user will be alerted immediately. For example, if the user takes the blood pressure medication Losartan, they would have been alerted on April 26th of the expanded recall due to the detection of carcinogens. Additionally, there is a real-time news feed that also brings food recalls to the user’s attention, such as the 56 tons of ground beef recalled this past week due to an E. coli outbreak.

The goal of this app is to optimize the flow of crucial information by creating a platform that brings important information to the public. Knowledge is power, and we want to give users quick and convenient access to the information they deserve to know. The users’ safety is of our utmost concern, which is why we want to enable them to make informed decisions about what they put into their body, and prevent the amount of people who are unnecessarily exposed to contaminants in food or drugs.

How we built it

Our app was coded using Android Studio. A large part of our app was also implementing the usage of Google Cloud. We used Firebase authentication to store user login information. Therefore, users are able to register real accounts, and must provide the correct username and password in order to log in. Additionally, we utilized the Firebase database to store user data. It continuously keeps track of each user and what medications they are taking. Users also have the ability to add or remove medications from the database as they stop or start taking them. The data displayed in Med-Data is taken through openFDA, which is the Food and Drug Administration’s API. Different queries are made to parse food and drug recall data using JSON.

Challenges we ran into

Throughout the hackathon, we ran into difficulty implementing Firebase and openFDA. It was a completely new experience, and it took many hours to understand how the systems worked. Moreover, as we discovered the limitations we had when using someone else’s software, we had to find ways to work around them so we could still achieve our goal.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud of implementing the features we wanted in the app, such as creating a successful login and registration system. Not only were we able to come up with several iterations for page designs, we were also able to code and add functionality to them. Every user has their unique medicine list that they can customize. Moreover, even if users’ medicines aren’t recalled, the weekly data we display from food recalls also has a significant importance. We believe that being automatically informed of recalls reduces stress and inefficiency in the flow of information. This app provides peace of mind for us and our loved ones, making Med-Data an innovative, helpful app that promotes an informed public.

What we learned

We are very grateful that we were able to gain experience with different technologies. It was our first time using openFDA, and our first time using Firebase to store data. With these new skills under our belts, we’ll be going home on Sunday excited about the possibilities for our future projects.

What's next for Med-Data

Our goal for Med-Data is to provide users all across America with relevant, real-time information that prioritizes their safety. Being notified as soon as possible reduces the risk of harmful side effects due to contaminated food or drugs. Moreover, people will be able to take their medications with peace of mind, knowing that they will be kept in the loop about possible dangers.

We plan to explore different avenues such as partnering with grocery stores or pharmacies. If these companies agree to use the app, we could cut off the spread of harmful substances even closer to the direct source, and thus minimizing the damage radius. Once a substance has been recalled, cashiers will be able to stop customers from buying the products the second the recall is released. Pharmacists will also be able to immediately issue warnings to susceptible customers.

We would also like to extend the capabilities of our app by implementing a map that will provide the user with the locations of nearby drug disposal sites or pharmacies. In this manner, it will be even more convenient for them to safely dispose of medications or seek out medical assistance.

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