Developer Platform Spotlight: Rutgers University Students Win 7x24 Exchange University Challenge with Healthcare Scheduling App
June 15, 2021 • 6 min read
A team of undergraduates at Rutgers University used the Commure Developer Platform to create QuickShift, an application that streamlines shift scheduling for clinicians. Developed by Swetha Angara, Ariela Chomski, Brooke Getter, Neha Nelson and Param Patel, QuickShift won $6,500 in grants as a participant in the 7x24 exchange Metro NY 2021 University Challenge for their creativity, impact, and work involving data center consolidation.
We sat down with the team to ask them about their experience creating QuickShift and why they chose Commure to power their application.
The QuickShift Undergraduate Development Team
To start off, what is QuickShift, and what was the motivation behind creating it?
Brooke: QuickShift actually started with stories from my sister. I remember hearing about her having to jump through ridiculous hoops for her clinical scheduling and driving 45 minutes back and forth from work, late at night, to fill out paperwork so she could request a single dentist appointment off. It was ridiculous. It showed how bad the current system really was. We realized this was a huge issue, we knew some engineers at Commure, and we decided to just make it happen.
What advice would you give to other developers, like yourselves, who have a great idea but might not know where to start?
Neha: Work with Commure is what I would say. They will help you.
Param: I was gonna say that too but in general, I think planning is a big aspect. I think even we could have done a lot more planning. Sometimes it felt like, “oh my gosh we are not going to finish this,” and that was a big stress point for us.
Swetha: Also asking for feedback from the actual users. Brooke’s sister took a look at what we made and was able to give us feedback and comment on how we would save so much time. Commure’s inhouse clinicians also showed us what the hospitals started with. So seeing what exists and confirming you’re making it better is great.
Brooke: When we started out we had these plans to include different types of clinicians, residents, nurses, etc… and to continue expanding everything. But we kept having to remind ourselves that it's better to have a basic, functional, and well built prototype than to have something with a lot of features which is a mess and doesn't work.
So we cut everything down to barebones to get it functional, then decided we could build off the barebones’ functionality.
Can you tell us a bit about Rutgers Capstones and the Competition you entered?
Ariela: The Rutgers Capstone is similar to a senior thesis. It’s a large engineering project that all senior undergraduates have to do, at least in our program. We knew that we wanted to try and do something meaningful with it.
Brooke: The competition we won grants in is separate from our Capstone. Our advisor chose our team to enter the 7x24 Exchange Metro NY 2021 University Challenge as representatives of Rutgers University. 7x24 was specifically centered around data centers and efficiency this year, but you can jump off from that at any point. We focused on using Commure and storing data in a single location to improve efficiency.
Why did you decide to use Commure to power QuickShift and which parts of the developer tools did you use?
Neha: There are other solutions out there we could have used to solve this problem, but they’re extremely expensive and a lot less accessible. Commure was very willing to work with us, and help us with our technical needs.
Param: I think it would have taken a lot longer without Commure’s developer tools. The way we originally had envisioned our project, starting from scratch would not have led us to the product we have today. It would have been a lot less minimal and impactful if we hadn’t used Commure’s resources.
Neha: Having all that prepped was really useful.
Swetha: I think in our last meeting they called us power users of the “Resource Manager” tool. We used that a lot, we also used the FHIR rust API and SDK, and a couple of the react components.
Neha: We used the data library a little bit, but the resource management is definitely what we ended up using the most.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
Param: That’s a really good question. Among us, different things were different roadblocks. Not just getting started, but maybe our team started on the wrong foot. We tried to do the back end first but realized we didn’t know how to model the data. So we pivoted to the front end and it all began to click.
Neha: I think learning FHIR and figuring out what algorithm to use, both of those were tough.
Did your work on QuickShift influence your career goals?
Neha: I think, after learning that there are so many problems to solve, I’d love to continue working in the healthcare space. I know this is something that impacts so many people who need and deserve quality care, but everything is so expensive and broken. Making a schedule should not be as difficult as it is right now. It’s ridiculous, more time should be spent on the people receiving care than the technology facilitating it.
Brooke: In theory, if we had more options, this is something we would definitely want to continue and I think a lot of us would go in that direction. But because a lot of this started after our career fair, we had to have a lot of our jobs figured out ahead of time. So we’ve all planned out our next job before we really got into the thick of this.
How did developing QuickShift help you grow professionally?
Ariela: I think learning to design with the user in mind is something that we learned along the way in this project and especially when speaking with more experienced engineers at Commure. We learned a new perspective that way.
Param: We have never had to really code for a “client” in our classes. All of our projects were isolated and clearly defined, so building for realistic use in a complex system is definitely something new that we all got to experience.
Brooke: Because it was no longer just a case of deliverables to pass this class, we had to learn to continuously touch base and communicate with another group of people. It gave us a chance to step back, review, and learn as we continued our work.
Neha: I found it really interesting that Commure wanted feedback from us to improve their platform. We gave them some notes which we felt could improve minor details and we got to watch it change within the span of our time working with them. It was really cool to see and it’s definitely influenced how I consider developer interactions.
Commure is proud to feature the QuickShift team. Healthcare will rely on responsible engineers to help deliver a future of care that prioritizes the people within it. We would like to thank Ariela, Param, Brooke, Neha, Swetha, and their professor, Dr. Godrich for their inspiring work and hope their story serves as motivation for anyone who has seen the problems plaguing healthcare today and would like to make a difference.