All Things Data


Hacking Healthcare: Moonlighting from Azara

Jim Lee talks about his recent experience at Massachusetts digital health innovation events.

Boston has some of the best medical and technology talent in the world. Between leading medical centers (Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, etc.) and the flourishing software startup scene, I feel fortunate to be working at the intersection of both – Azara Healthcare – developing a platform to that helps Community Health Centers track and report care quality and patient activity.

When I started my career in healthcare, I wanted to get out and engage the community. First, to learn more about the complex industry and second, to be a part of the digital health scene. A year ago, I was encouraged to start attending Hackathons to flex my creative muscles and get a feel for some of the many issues being faced by healthcare professionals.

I am grateful that was given this advice because it opened my eyes to areas of care that need to reform and the brilliant individuals who have the skill and ambition to make the change happen. My very first hackathon was at one of Azara’s partners, athenahealth, and it was right around the time I joined Azara (November 2016). The atmosphere was chaotic and, at first, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a project.

The day started with pitches, groups formed around an idea and people slowly made teams begin building rudimentary Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) that would demonstrate the solution to a particular problem. My group, eventually dubbed SlickMD, developed a solution that would make documentation for resident physicians more efficient, particularly because it captured lost revenue from missing documentation and allowed resident physicians to graduate. (http://www.athenahealth.com/blog/2016/11/21/hackathon-followup)

Groups at the athenaHealth Hackathon hard at work

Groups at the athenaHealth Hackathon hard at work

Although my team placed second and didn’t go home with the “big bucks”, my real “win” was gaining the experience integrating through the athena API and meeting everyone at the hackathon. Through the year, I have continued to engage with the Digital Health community through MIT Hacking Medicine program, who also sponsored a hackathon in May 2017 (MIT Grand Hack). At that event, I worked with a new team, CardiAct, to improve ED clinical diagnosis for chest pain, decreasing misdiagnosis.

My hackathon experience has been quite fruitful.  I have learned about a variety of different healthcare areas, improved not only my technical coding skills but also my ability to form and work in teams with a common goal.  All things that enrich the skills and experiences I bring to Azara every day. In fact, several hackathon pitches ended up referencing a lot of what I do at Azara – EMR Integration, aggregating patient data, and the simplification of documentation. While the process of mapping workflows and validating data may be hard work, these are efforts that physicians and medical professionals care deeply about and the fact that they are willing to use their free time to help improve the status quo is a statement to the importance of this innovation.  Team SlickMDI am glad to be part of a community and work at a company that values improving upon the status quo, and I look forward to bringing this energy and enthusiasm to each client I visit.

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