Nix Ebola: Why is this hack-a-thon different from all other hack-a-thons?

The subject matter, the expertise of the industry people involved, and the mix of healthcare professionals with game designers.
The Bookey Group’s CEO, Linda Bookey, reports from the Shift Labs event this past weekend.

We have your typical and necessary hack-a-thon attendees here and are grateful for their presence.  This is a profile of the less typical attendees. nixblog2

As I write this, you need to understand that the people behind me are talking about vomit, diarrhea and aerosolized virus.

Adrian, the Program Manager for one simulation is putting on Personal Protective Equipment and talking about how he now has no peripheral vision and his mask are fogging up. He’s trying to use his feet to pull the plastic off the protective boots.  He can use his hands to adjust his mask now, but after that he’s “SOL” as Kate, one of our SME’s puts it.

In September, Kate Hurley, clinical nurse manager at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, MT returned from three weeks in Sierra Leone working in their largest Ebola treatment center providing direct patience care.  She and a group of doctors and nurses and bioinformatics people are donating their time as SME’s.  With Kate’s real world experience, she’s the most in demand with all of the teams.

We have the architectural plans of the US-sponsored hospitals being built in Liberia and photos from on the ground. Kate is showing the team working on an interactive walk through what is most useful to highlight.  “Make sure all hand washing stations are shown.” She’s also telling them to highlight what won’t be there – these aren’t fully equipped American hospitals.

Listening to Kate and taking notes, is Mark Selander, an Industrial Designer working in the Nordstrom Innovation Lab, and an artist in his spare time, currently focused on virtual reality. His career history includes product design, video game design and illustration.  Nordstrom very graciously gave him 1 week of release time to organize the event and build the basic game level using the Unity 3D game engine. This is giving everyone a head start.

Over at the white board, Mike Couch, a nurse at the VA hospital, Steve Naranjo, a UX designer for a MedBridge, a medical online education company and Linné Pullar, a Training Specialist are working on the assessment pieces.  Her role is to make sure that we get these pieces right – she is asking “Why is that character vomiting – what is the learning experience here?”

And with those words, we’ve hit the lunch break – it’s the same as any other hack-a-thon in that respect.  Except I’ve never been queasy at one before.  Trust me, they will continue to discuss these topics over lunch.