InnovateNYP: GA Alumni Hack the Best Online Patient Care Experience


Last month, a group of GA Alumni took part in InnovateNYP: a hackathon hosted by NY Presbyterian Hospital. The challenge was to create the best online patient care experience, and our group of alumni didn’t disappoint as they took home first place for best overall prototype. We had some time to sit and chat with them about their experience, here’s their story.

Tell us about your team

Andrea Cremese – Back-End Web Development Graduate
Michael Wenger – Back-End Web Development Graduate
Eric Chen – Back-End Web Development Graduate
Hannah Oppenheimer – User Experience Design Graduate
Our extra team member was Dan Firepine, an ER practitioner from San Francisco visiting NYC. Even though we wasn’t a developer, he was a valuable addition to our team. His experience working at a hospital gave us a perspective that was key in refining our app and fleshing out ideas for our presentation.

Tell us about the prototype you created

Our Product, PresbyHangouts, aims to connect patients, caregivers and healthcare providers through a closed Google Hangout platform only accessible to the hospital network. Individuals can search and host PresbyHangouts based on a variety of topics from health-centered focuses like diabetes to personal interests like chess. These Hangouts can open conversations and opportunities.

How did you come up with the concept?

From the outset we started developing a completely different idea than what we ended up delivering. At the beginning it sounded awesome to us, and we even started – in a very organic way – to pitch loads of wireframes and functionalities.

Slowly the idea lost momentum, though. After lunch time it could be seen very clearly that the team was not believing in it anymore. We also got some cold reviews form the staff at the event (they were very helpful). That was the low point of the hackathon, by far. At approx 3 pm, I personally thought that might had been it.

The winning idea came up in less than half an hour (rather than the 5 hours for the old idea). It was a rush of events from that moment forward, but if I remember correctly, the basic idea came from trying to leverage the hospital infrastructure, the google infrastructure, and create a product that can improve the conditions in the hospital.

Any tips for new people thinking about entering a hackathon?

Andrea: Buddy up, don’t get intimidated, get to the end of it no matter what. Pile up some sleep if you can. For devs: study your scaffold ahead of time, once the business idea starts to take off research the 2/3 basic gems / functionalities you can see will need to be implemented straight away.

Hannah: Ask questions! I think we talked to the hospital staff more than any other group. They were our most valuable resource because they know the judges and they know what the hospital actually needs. Make sure to have fun, take breaks and move – don’t sit in one spot the whole time. New scenery can bring about new ideas.

Michael: Don’t perfect a prototype from the start. There are lots of ideas that need to be validated and it is far easier to validate them in 10 minutes through conversation and paper sketches, than to actually develop it and feel guilty about throwing away functional code. Also, Git and Github are imperative to team collaboration.

Eric: Keep an open mind, you’re there to learn. Be prepared to throw away an idea if it’s not working… but only on the first day. Also, you don’t need to start coding right away. Once you start coding, you’re pretty much committed to your idea.

To learn more about PresbyHangouts, click here.

Photos from the Hackathon:

Consultation time with a staff member Die harders on Sat evening Good riddace to old rubbish IMAG0002 IMAG0018 More wireframes One of the final wireframes Preparing the presentation - in yet another location The sketch that almost costed us the big prize this how much wireframing for the idea#1 I had done (and we rejected anyway)