By: Waqaar Khawar

As a computer scientist, I know the basic function of a computer is to do things more efficiently than can be done by hand. With the internet, efficient communication is added to this basic function.

From my experience as a medical student, there are almost infinite possibilities to leverage the use of computers to make healthcare more efficient for physicians and patients.

The University of California, Irvine embraced the opportunity to combine the skills of computer science and medical students with their Med App Jam. Eighteen teams made up of 30 medical students and 100 computer science students competed to develop the best medical iPhone or iPad app.

Medical student Jonathan Lin’s app, Spot Doc, allows a patient to take a picture of a questionable mole and send it to a dermatologist for initial evaluation. Lin understands a major concern with medical apps for patients is self-diagnosis and treatment. Spot Doc aims to get “the patient to see the doctor rather than be the doctor.”

Other teams developed apps for physicians ranging from reporting incidents that nearly resulted in errors to translating shorthand into full sentences for patient charts.

Brenton Alexander used Med App Jam as an opportunity to develop an app to get around technological deficits in Valle Redondo, Mexico. Through his experience volunteering, he learned that Wi-Fi and mobile data were not available, so his app for transferring electronic medical records took advantage of bluetooth technology. Alexander’s team had issues with the usability of their spreadsheet interface as well as regular system crashes which left them at second place.

The winner app, Life Buoy, was directed towards patients involved in natural disasters. Using this app, patients could find relief centers as well as submit requests for prescription refills.

UCI’s Med App Jam competition is a model for the greater world of medical app development. The students learned what developers everywhere already know: some apps work, some don’t, and some need to be improved to adequately fill the need of their users.

Source: Orange County Register