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Ohio State students compete to code new health software programs

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Blaine Morbitzer, a third-year in computer science and engineering, competes in Codefest. Credit: Daniel Bendtsen / Lantern photographer

Blaine Morbitzer, a third-year in computer science and engineering, competes in Codefest.
Credit: Daniel Bendtsen / Lantern photographer

As Ohio State students glued themselves to computers for 24 hours to create programs that would address health and wellness issues, some found themselves wishing OSU’s curriculum was focused more on what they could use in the real world.

“Four of us learned how to do Ruby on the fly tonight,” said Lakshmana Mukkapati, a second-year in computer science and engineering.

Only one of Mukkapati’s four teammates knew how to code with Ruby, a computer programming language.

“I was the only one who knew how to do it,” said Paul Breuler, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering.

Fourteen groups of students took on a 24-hour Codefest challenge hosted by Cardinal Health, in partnership with OSU and TechColumbus, to fix real-world health and wellness problems. The event was held at 1275 Kinnear Road, Columbus-based start-up incubator TechColumbus’ office.

Codefest is a competition held for programmers and web developers to showcase their creativity by creating usable software for phones or computers with limited amount of time.

Several participants said OSU doesn’t offer much practice in the field of computer science other than practicing theory.

“A lot of real world applications stuff we learn outside the classroom. They don’t really teach that at OSU,” said Daniel Brown, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering. “It’s more program theory and you learn how to test which code works faster, and ultimately the theory behind code and why code works. But a lot of the real practical applications you only get if you go out on your own and seek it.

“What would be nice is if OSU offered more classes or made it possible for part of its curriculum for computer science majors to do real world projects so they can build their portfolio outside just their senior project.”

Brown and his partner Natenon Tongtae, a fourth-year in biomedical engineering, were one of five groups that won Amazon gift cards worth $400 per group and the top prize of GoPro cameras. Each member of the duo took home a GoPro.

Awards like most innovative, most impactful, Most Unexceptional demo and people’s choice were also given out to teams.

Brown and Tongtae created software to help reduce the amount of time it takes patients and nurses to fill out paperwork. The patient, before showing up to the hospital, would fill out the information so any doctor they visit would have access to their data.

Brown and Tongtae said they found a study suggesting that on average, health care providers only see patients for nine minutes, and six go toward filling out paperwork.

“One of the things we wanted to do was expedite how fast they could do forms so that they could have more time to actually be a health care provider, to give support to that individual, and one of the ways to do that is to expedite the process for creating care plans,” Brown said.

There were four prompts given about health care and a fifth that allowed teams to create their own prompt related to health care.

Mukkapati said his team merged some of the prompts given to create a program that would allow for at-home data collection.

“We came up with an idea that was a merge of the prompts. One of the prompts was ‘How do we bridge the connection between doctors and patients,’ and one of the things we wanted to do was data. While the patient is at home, the doctor does not collect data, whereas the patient can,” Mukkapati said. “So we’re providing the capabilities to collect that data themselves and when they go to the doctor, they can show this data. From there, the doctor can easily make a diagnosis because they’ll have everything they’ll need.”

Dublin-based health care business Cardinal Health’s manager ecommerce digital marketer Amy Weber said the Codefest was put together to push creativity.

“The objective for the weekend overall is to promote creativity, promote innovation, promote out-of-the-box thinking around the health care industry,” Weber said.

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