A great problem faced by EMTs during an emergent situation is the lack of information about the patient's medical history. Incomplete information about allergies, medications and past medical treatment often ties EMTs hands in providing urgent care at a time when every moment is precious. We wanted to find a way to get that information into their hands rapidly, without increasing administrative burden on caregivers. This inspired a QR-code linked medical profile: easy to put on any belongings using stickers and only gives certain authorized medical personnel the ability to access PHI, giving the right information to an EMTs painlessly and seamlessly. We found motivation in the Patient Safety and Quality track, while trying to focus on Digital Approaches to Care Management.
What it does
Our web application - EZ-EMT - allows an EMT to access a person’s relevant medical history upon scanning a QR code sticker present on their belongings. EZ-EMT will use the 1upHealth API which can integrate EHR/EMR databases from primary care providers to create a patient profile. Each person’s profile will have a unique URL that will be assigned to a QR code, and healthcare networks will be able to provide a plastic stick-on version of each individual’s QR code to allow them to stick it onto their mobile device, driver’s license or any belonging they usually have on their person.
Upon scanning the QR code, the web interface pulls up the patient’s profile, contingent on the EMT having verified their identity before accessing the info.
How we built it
The application uses a Django web application to route unique urls to patient profiles and requires all requests to be made by authenticated users. The url’s are encoded into the QR code and passed on to the end users. The demo version of the application uses synthesized data but we extensively explored connecting our application to the fledgling 1upHealth API. The API allows us to draw a large amount of medical history with little effort on our end. We sought integration with the API but stopped because we would have to understand and configure OAuth authentication ourselves and did not believe that was the best use of our time.
Challenges we ran into
When we explored the problem of EHR/EMR database interoperability, we found 1upHealth, a system that can be used to integrate profiles across platforms without additional burden to healthcare providers. This uses SMART, a platform that offers tools to streamline healthcare information storage systems by building upon the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource) API to simplify gathering health data from multiple systems into one place.
1upHealth offered the benefit of APIs that personalize customer experience, not only by integrating across a large number of health networks but also by allowing for a clean, customer-facing interface. It has the power to allow for excellent analytics and integrate over wearable technology as well. However, after spending a considerable amount of time working with their APIs, we found that these are still in their genesis. They have set up a working end point, but do not have support for interfacing with it through a particular programming language. This forced us to focus on manual authentication steps and made it difficult to access the data extraction tools that would allow user profiles to be linked to our web application. We believe that with better development on the 1upHealth end to support other libraries, and more time to explore the necessary authentication steps and manual data extraction on our end, we would have been able to successfully use their APIs to build our end goal.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud of the fact that we were able to devise, design, and implement a tool that helps expedite emergency response ability without putting an additional burden on the patient or healthcare professional and without compromising privacy. We were focused on building a solution that is painless to the healthcare professionals who are already bogged down by slow but necessary bookkeeping systems. This way, the information is pulled securely and accurately from patient history databases and presents it in an easily-readable manner to the people who need it most. Our web application is efficient, effective, and does not cost a dime.
What we learned
In terms of knowledge base, we learned a lot about the administrative hurdles healthcare providers face, and have a new reckoning of just how extensive these problems are. We were exposed to new knowledge of APIs and working on virtual machines as we built our web application. While brainstorming, we learned the value of thinking small and focusing on niche issues, rather than the systemic and societal issues our minds drifted to at first. It made more sense, as we progressed with our ideas, to focus on very specific issues which could be worked on in the hackathon setting.
What's next for MedHacks
We want to work on integrating 1upHealth to create the profiles, because it will eventually have the power to greatly streamline patient profile building and EHR/EMR integration. One part of this is waiting for their API to be further developed, and the other is for us to spend more time working with it and exploring what we can do with it.