Calling all white hat hackers
Published Aug 12 2020 08:37 AM 2,400 Views

CB:  The World Health Organization designated 2020 as the year of the nurse and midwife to raise awareness of nurses and midwives significant and varied roles in healthcare. On May 15th, Johnson and Johnson, SonsielDevUp and Microsoft partner to host nurse hack for health. Giving nurses and clinicians an opportunity to define new ways to save lives. Today we discussed the importance of having nurses and clinicians involved in hackathons and creating innovative solutions to everyday problems.  

Claire BonaciHi, Kathleen, Jeff and Jeff. Welcome to the podcast.  

Group: Hi. Hi Claire, thanks for having us.  

Claire: Well first I'd love, I’d love it if you could introduce yourselves and briefly mention your role here at Microsoft  

Jeff FaticSo I can go first. SoJeff Fattic. I was managing a group of cloud solution architects up until this week. Now I'm managing a group of people an actually one of the things we're really focusing on is hackathons, topic of our conversation.  

Jeff Luna: And I’m Jeff Luna. I’m a cloud solution architect, entering my 9th year here at MicrosoftSo I work with customers in the field to really help them establish their cloud practice and get going. 

Kathleen McGrow: I'm Kathleen McGrow, the chief nursing information officer for the US health and life science business for Microsoft.  

Claire: Greatthanks so much. I'm really excited to talk to all three of youSo you have both been very involved in hackathons as you just mentioned and I know it's a passion for both of you. Can you share what are your favorite types of innovations that come out of hackathons and how did those innovations actually help patients?  

JF: I can go first, that's fine. So one of the things we've really seen in their most recent hackathons is getting closer to the clinicians, right? That they're getting more involved and part of that is because the the bar for entry and some of these technologies has come way down. It's easy to get in talk to them about power apps and power BI and things like that which has been great. And so some of the things we've seen there are very frontline focused, which is especially important right now. So we're really helping them develop tools that might seem trivial in some ways. It could be as simple as a lost and found tool, right? For all the people coming in and out, but it makes a huge difference for them in their day and lets them focus on things that are much more value add. 

Claire: No, that's really great point. I think that's definitely what nurses and clinicians are looking forward to begin with. And Jeff Luna, do you have a perspective?  

JL: Absolutely one of the things that I'm always astonished by is how people bring their different ideas together to form one solid idea. So really kind of taking the things that they've seen in their practice, their experience, and really kind of working as a team to really ideate and work through different iterations till they come up with the final solution that really makes them not only proud of what they're accomplishing, but also, leveraging tools that they've learned about on the way. And in a lot of these hackathons, you know, it's a short amount of time, we're always pushing for minimum viable product. And some of the things that really emphasize kind of the success criteria are when there is a sense of purpose. A definite sense of belonging and the ideational aspect that really started from one point and has carried on through multiple iterations to something great.  

CB: That's great. I love that you bring up the teamwork aspect of that, especially since a lot of Hackathons, you go into it not having a team or not knowing anyone, so it's great that you can actually hear that background and actually create something out of that.  

JL: Yeah, I'm going to make it a T-shirt that says introverts are Hackathon people too.  

CB: That's definitely true, and since it is year of the nurse and midwife, where have you seen nurses actually innovate in their role in and outside of their role 

JF: Yeah, this has been really awesome to see mean, we've always honestly been looking at nurses  often as career changers. Like we've seen them come into our industry in waves, and that's been really interestingSo there's always been an aptitude there. But lately, on these hackathons where we're not trying to recruit them out of their jobs, it's been really interesting to see how they bring that hackathon mentality. It may not be the same as a developer in their code first kind of model, but, these are jobs that you know they make their whole days out of improvising, right? Like How do I solve these problems without the necessary resources or or this industry in a new and unique situation. So that mindset coming across is already there and that makes it a lot easier. 

JL:  One of the things I've seen is just kind of the long history of nurses being innovative. Whether it was hand hygiene and hand washing protocols in the 1800s. Feeding tubes, color coded Ilines, crash carts, there's been this long history of iteration to make the job easier. So in my own experience, I think about some of the nurses that have helped our family, my children, and there's a reason why there's tape around stethoscope. They're always putting stuff together. There are always kind of bandaging things together. But more so it is taking kind of a course of action that really helps demonstrate the care and compassion that nurses are known for.  

CB: And I think people are now even more seeing how innovative nurses are, especially with the pandemic and how much they are being valued more now than they happen in the past. So I think the question that first time hackers asked a lot are where should they focus their efforts? So if you could give any advice on where would you say the next generation of nurses should focus their innovations to solve a big problem in the industry? What would you tell them? 

JF: Sure, go ahead Jeff.  

JL: So one of the things I see a lot are nurses who come into hackathons and really tried to kind of bring their best. And sometimes they have an idea and it gets diluted really quickly with other ideas. They really have to write kind of that problem statement that helps kind of initiate what they would want and this is kind of where I see a lot of nurses who come into hackathons a little bit hesitant. But it's all about expression. It's all about more art than science. And it's definitely about finding the right resources to help you. You don't have to be an expert of coding. You don't have to be an expert at computer science. There are people there who are meant to help. And when you have a need, you go and ask the organizers. Hey, I need somebody who could help do this, and in some of the hackathons I've participated in, it's been clinicians and nurses who said, I've got this idea. I'm not sure how to put it together, what would you recommend? And I'm not at all familiar with the problems or the problem statement, but in them telling me the story, I could kind of see the pieces that would help support their idea and really kind of helped furnish their solution.  

JF:  Yeah, I'll add to that. So I agree with everything Jeff said. The thing I would also like, I guess, sort of caution nurses on as they come to this, or any clinician really, they live in a very structured world, right? That every day is a lot of policies and procedures and things like that and hackathons are almost the opposite of that. Its at best controlled chaos and so it's kind of just go build stuffSo you have to sort of switch that mindset when you walk in. Kind of thinking about Am I on a team yet? What are we going to do first? All those things, all that will get figured out. Be patient. Make yourself known. There are people who want to pull you in. AbsolutelySo you know just just sort of change that mindset a little bit, and I think you'll find that it's actually a lot of fun.  

JL: Yes, I'd like to add to that thought. I know Jeff and I have done some hackathons together and the only sense of organization is that final line when you're doing your presentation. Everything in between from the start to the end is free formSo it's really about creativity. It's really not about trying to build the best, it's getting to the thing that demonstrates your idea and your solution.  

CB: That's great. I love how the flexibility piece comes into play as well. And my last question for you, it's a little bit of a fun oneSo if you could create any hackathon, what would your hackers accomplish? Or what would be the end goal that you'd really want them to come out with.  

JF: Sure, sure you know, I think and Jeff knows this about me too. I. I wanna move fast right? I'm sort of selfish about some of this even as my as a developer like I. I love health care because I want to live forever. So you know how can we put things in place and really transform our industry. Those are the kinds of products and projects that I want to really be invested in. I don't want to be on my deathbed, just missing the next cool nurse innovation, right?  

JL:  Yeah, I agree with that thought you have.  A lot of times we want to build solutions for ourself. And we’re inspired by some of the things that happen in our own personal environments, in our extended families and our friends and loved ones. So thinking about the current times and thinking about some of the innovations that are out there right now: Shortage of PPE. Somebody came up with a way to help make that PPE go a little bit further or sterilize. Thinking about some of the aspects of the hackathons we've participated in, you know, people are walking up with great ideas and sometimes they just want to feel that support and that's what our teams are there for to really help kind of build and support those ideas as they grow. 

CB: Great, well I love that. And Kathleen, I haven't forgotten about youSo you've been in many hackathons yourself and your our Chief nursing innovation officer. So I want to ask you a different question. As a potential hacker, why would you not join or what are some of the barriers that you might face joining a hackathon?  

Kathleen McGrow: So I think that most nurses are highly motivated and in order to join a hack, they want to be able to participate, they want to bring their clinical skills to the table. But I think there may be a hesitancy or maybe some shyness they might be concerned about technical barrier. The hack that Jeff and Jeff participated with me in, they were very helpful, right, having that Technical Support to get the nurses online so that they needed to get into groups that they were able to get into the groups and be able to navigate to apps that were out there. I think that, uh, some may be concerned about their expertise level. Maybe there's some more novice nurses that may potentially feel they don't have much to bring to the table, but no matter what level you are, whether you're expert nurse or a novel nurse, there's a ton of information that you can bring. And just, I think a ton of knowledge that you can bring to the non clinical team. And really be able to be a value add. Sometimes just answering one question where someone is stuck can be tremendously helpful. And then potentially you know you may be concerned about the time commitment. I think most hacks are very upfront ahead of time with the amount of time that you need to commit. Uhm, I was very impressed um during our last nurse hackathon that during the final pitch for some of the projectnurses actually joined from their units their ICUs. They worked in the ICU and join from the unit as they did the pitch. And they had worked that out ahead of time with their with their coworkers in their units, which I think was just awesome. So I think that if we can just identify the barriers and help nurses to overcome them, we can get more and more nurses to participate in these types of activities and be very beneficial to everyone. 

CB: Yeah, you bring up a lot of great points. I think I definitely understand the fear and the hesitancy, but getting that perspective and getting as many nurses involved as you can, it's very beneficial. So thank you all for being part of this podcast and answering these great questions about hackathons. I'd love to see more hackathons in the future and our expanded involvement. So thank you so much.  

JF: Thank you  

JL: Thank you. 

CB close: Thank you all for watching. Please feel free to leave us questions or comments below and check back soon for more content from the HLS industry team. 

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