Michelle, one of our team members volunteered overseas in tiny clinics that could serve disadvantaged people far more efficiently than the current American state of affairs just by efficient division of labor. We wanted to see if we could replicate their success or possibly even improve on it using technology.

What it does

Someone in need of a doctor's appointment logs in, fills out a simple, school physical-style questionnaire, and then is connected to a doctor via phone number or Google hangouts. If they don't want to use a computer or don't have access to one, they can also text in answers via Twilio and receive the same treatment.

The doctor then gets to see their answers and talk briefly with them, then provides some probably diagnoses, which the system turns into advice for them on caring for and treating further. The system also produces a more detailed results page to show to personnel once the patient goes to a more traditional medical center. Some basic resources about local free or cheap health centers and insurance are also provided, as well as follow-up information.

How I built it

The backend is written in pure haskell. The frontend was originally vanilla javascript with a twilio alternative, but all the web-based stuff ended up irreperably failing Saturday night, leading to a team push to rewrite that in haskell as well.

Challenges I ran into

As mentioned above, we rewrote our entire front end starting about 1AM Saturday night (for a supposed health project, our caffeine consumption levels may not reflect best practices). We also had a non-traditional team where 3/4 members had no medical background, and 1/4 had no programming background, so everyone had to step outside their comfort zone and work in spaces they were previously unfamiliar with.

It also presented unique challenges trying to serve some of the most disadvantaged people in the country. We made our website without any javascript, and accessible over SMS, and as such left behind basically all modern web conveniences to serve more and older devices.

One of our team members also spent a large chunk of the hackathon vomiting because of sketchy Thai food, and still managed significant contributions!

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

  • It works!

  • We took a team with people who had never programmed before and developed a modern web app

  • We believe this has the potential to really help people (in the real world!) with further development

What I learned

  • A bunch of stuff about HTML forms I literally never wanted to

  • A shocking number of people can't even afford a doctor's visit

  • There's no cell signal in a bunch of weird parts of this building, which can make debugging twilio interesting

  • You don't need more than four hours of sleep a weekend when you believe in yourself.

  • The internet goes really fast on a ton of devices when you give up fancy js frameworks (and js entirely, come to think of it)

What's next for Project Memphis

With further development, we'd love to partner with a local clinic and see if we can really provide healthcare to people who previously couldn't access it. We think by focusing small and local, and leveraging our unique platform (e.g. availability over SMS), we can possibly improve the health of at least a double-digit number of people, which, while not significant on a greater scale would possibly be one of the coolest things we've ever done at a hackathon.

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