TechJam Develops Technology to Help Veterans

By Maggie O'Neill  |  Posted 2013-12-16 Email Print this article Print
technology to help veterans

MetLife TechJam asked participants to find tech solutions for the VA and to improve the accessibility and deliverability of health care information to veterans.

More than 75 technologists joined together at Research Triangle Park, N.C., in November to create new tech solutions and improve on the accessibility and deliverability of health care information to veterans.

Called the MetLife TechJam, the event challenged participants to find new information delivery solutions in areas such as data integration and augmentation, user experience and predictive analysis for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The heart of the delivery problem is that the coordination of patient care information must come from the many different physicians who provide services at the VA's more than 1,500 facilities.

MetLife, which is building a global technology hub in Cary, N.C., facilitated the event with organizational partners including Infusion, Microsoft and MongoDB. MetLife TechJam participants included professionals from Cognizant, Deutsche Bank Global Technology, Duke University and IBM, along with a group of high school students.

'The participating teams developed exceptional results," Gary Hoberman, MetLife CIO of Regional Application Development, wrote in an email to Baseline. "They were tasked with an important challenge that impacts the health and well-being of our nation's veterans, and [were] allotted only 32 hours to develop a solution. We were incredibly impressed with the caliber of solutions presented by each team."

These solutions, if utilized, could help with better delivery systems by the VA, which uses a tool called Blue Button. This system enables veterans to download their medical records in text files from their My HealtheVet accounts. Making the coordination and compilation of this data more challenging is that some veterans do have one or more chronic conditions, which means their health information is spread among the various physicians who treat them.

In addition to Hoberman, the panel of judges included Joe Paiva, chief technology strategist with the VA; Gregory Hopper, an adjunct professor with Duke University; Charles Coleman, a senior executive at IBM; and several others.

The panel of judges picked the prize-winning solutions in four categories, as well as a best overall solution. The team selected for that prize was made up of professionals from Infusion, a business solutions company.

"Their solution was easy to use with a dynamic user interface, and, on the backend, was constructed with a strong security system and innovative predictive analysis," Hoberman said. "The Infusion solution was uploaded to GitHub, along with the other solutions from the MetLife TechJam, to be reviewed and considered for implementation by the VA."

The Deustche Bank Global Technology Cary team won for best solution in the user experience category. The team of IT professionals created a solution that had visual appeal and ease of use, according to Hoberman, and that highlighted the user component. "They designed a mobile application that was streamlined and simple for smart phone users," he said.

Winners in the categories of data integration and augmentation, predictive analysis and mobile received tech-based packages the included the Jawbone Up, a wristband-app package used to track daily health habits and the just-released Dell Venue 8 tablet.

Given the success of this event, a future MetLife TechJam could be a consideration, according to Hoberman.

"The TechJam is just one of the ways MetLife is driving innovation, and was a great opportunity to demonstrate the creativity that can come from an insurance company," he said. "For instance, through facilitation by MetLife, TechJam participants made their solutions available publicly through open-source code. We have received great feedback from the participants and hope to host other events like this one in the future."


Maggie O'Neill, who has worked as a news reporter for more than 10 years, is a contributing writer to Baseline.


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