GW Students Win Big at MedHacks

Last month, Johns Hopkins University hosted a virtual MedHacks, their annual medical hackathon, on September 4th-6th 2020. This 36-hour design competition brought together participants from around the world to form teams and tackle a project around one of three tracks: Aging in Place with Resilience and Resources, Personalized Medicine Using Data-Driven Healthcare, and Patience Adherence and Quality Care During a Global Pandemic. At the end of the event, competitors had the opportunity to present their innovative solutions on a digital platform.

Two GW senior biomedical engineering students, Faisal Al Munajjed and Sabina Sarinzhipova, participated in the inaugural virtual version of MedHacks. Faisal and Sabina formed a team of 5 by pitching themselves to other MedHacks participants. Their recruits included Azeezah, a senior computer scientist from Connecticut; Sarani, a cyber-security Ph.D. student from Australia; and Dharma, a senior economist from Indonesia. In a completely digital environment, they successfully employed a total of 5 people with various skill sets and opinions.

As a team, they decided to tackle the “Personalized Medicine Using Data-Driven Healthcare” track. Their project took the form of a visual web app designed to support the deaf and hearing-impaired community as well as those with limited digital and English proficiency. This app aims to decrease miscommunication between members of these communities and healthcare professionals using telemedical services. i-Hurt will identify the patient’s pain and interpret its degree using a basic yet effective visual questionnaire. Afterward, a summary of the patient’s symptoms will be sent to their doctor for further assessment.  

The inspiration for this project originated in finding a common skill among their team members in that they knew sign language. Sarani was versed in Australian and New Zealand sign language while Faisal and Sabina were familiar with basic American Sign Language. Additional input from various mentors steered them in the direction of creating an app to improve telemedical communication between patients and doctors. Communicating across time zones, they converged on their final proposal: i-Hurt. Their final video proposal was presented to the judges, subsequently winning second place at MedHacks!

According to Faisal, “It was an exhilarating and exhausting experience. In its entire duration, I learned how to work under pressure, made four wonderful friends, met two great mentors, and became skilled in three new programs. It will be one of the most memorable events of my college life.”

Read his full personal account of his experience participating in MedHacks and how his team developed i-Hurt here!


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