The Problem Obi, a medical student at Brown, noticed that many doctors are worried about a requirement set up by Medicare. The requirement is that a threshold of the provider's payments have to use a secure messaging platform in order for patient s to contact providers and log provider-patient communication. There is a big problem, however, with the existing system. Less than 17% of hospitals meet this requirement, "which hinders our nation’s ability to improve the quality, safety, cost-effectiveness, and access to care" says Carla Smith - Executive Vice President of Healthcare Information and Management Systems. The problem occurs because less than 5% of patients are actually using the current systems. This is because the current systems are outdated and difficult to use. In addition, some of the systems require the patient to download software and go through complicated steps just in order to contact the provider. Especially since Medicare patients are elderly, this greatly inhibits the use of the platforms. Some of the platforms use chat-based systems, but this is a difficult interface for patients with arthritis or with poor eyesight.
Our Solution VoiceCare is the secure messaging system that patients will actually use. This is because we are reinventing the way patients use the system. It is very simple for any patient - elderly or disabled - to use the platform. All they need to do is call the provider's number they have been assigned. They leave a message and that is it. No complicated software download. No cumbersome chat-based systems. The provider then can log into our web interface of VoiceCare and see a list of all the patients. The provider can hear all of the voice calls that the patients have left through the web interface. The web interface prioritises voice calls that have not been heard and marks them as done when heard. The web interface keeps a log of all the calls from each patient. With VoiceCare, providers can meet the Medicare requirements, patients can have easier access to contact their provider, and overall the quality, safety, cost-effectiveness and access to care will greatly improve.
Building it In order to make the web interface, we used React. For the backend we used MongoDB, Heroku, Node, Express and the Twilio API.The biggest challenge was connecting the voice calls to the web interface and displaying them to the provider. We are proud that we got a functioning version of the web application to work.
The Learning Experience 2/3 of our team are new to hackathons, so it was a learning experience for us to participate in our first hackathon. In addition, we learned more about React and the Twilio API.