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HH Ottawa IBM Bluemix Technical Workshop


IBM Bluemix Technical Workshop


Originally published on HHOttawa’s blog on Medium.
Written by Hacking Health Ottawa Volunteers Jinu Kurian and Kevin Dick

The Hacking Health initiative is aimed at bringing together change-makers across disciplines, enable them to engage, learn, and grow together, and support the pursuit of innovation in healthcare. With an increasingly tight-knit network of Ottawa healthcare enthusiasts, the time is ripe to transition into the learning phase. With Platinum Partner IBM kindly providing their space and expertise, we assembled and settled in the IBM Ottawa building, armed both with laptop and burning curiosity.

Jim Boland of the IBM Analytics Division motivated us with a presentation on the space occupied by the “Internet of Things” (IoT) in the future, notably on its application to wearable technologies on February 23, 2017 at IBM. IoT promises to compliment the propensity of smartphones in modern society, creating a future where we are increasingly connected and immersed in our surroundings. Promising a number of unique inventions (imagine “smart shoes” that relay directions as your walk around!) healthcare solutions could greatly benefit from the integration of IoT in its existing framework. Sensor data could be collected from a multitude of sources, and from anywhere in the world, the role of Analytics is to take all of that data and turn it into meaningful information. In the pursuit of our own solutions to problems, we were prompted to consider this approach in the context of healthcare.

Turning tale into intuition, we transitioned into the hands-on portion of the workshop. With a number of Raspberry Pis at our disposal, we were guided through the process of interfacing with the small boards and connecting to the IBM Bluemix Cloud. Laura Alkhoury and Peter Djeneralovic were the Bluemix gurus leading us through the workshop; altogether we had a small army of IBMers facilitating the smooth execution of the workshop and eager to address any questions. By the end of the night, the participants had a sense of how to set up a simple flow on Node-RED, a visual editor for “wiring the Internet of Things”. In the end, temperature readings were obtained from the Raspberry Pi devices at five second intervals, and the data was plotted with real-time updates.

Kevin Dick: “Reflecting on the previous experience at the IBM Design Thinking Workshop, I envisioned a number of ways IoT could enable the recording of sleep data for the purposes of child sleep apnea diagnosis. The engineer within me excitedly thought of sampling rates, biometric analysis, and machine learning signal classification. The designer within me considered the opportunities for physicians and clinicians to have access to a real-time stream of patient data, accessible in the comforts of their office with the child in the comforts of their own bed. The entrepreneur within me envisioned the marketability of such a technology and believed in the relief such a technology might bring to child patient and child patient parent alike.”

Jinu Kurian: “Our group’s initial intent was to design an application to diagnose and monitor vestibular ocular dysfunction following a concussion. However, as the night at the Design Thinking Workshop progressed, we were slowly realizing more wholesome solutions to evaluate the individual patient condition and provide personalized care accordingly. One of the foreseen challenges with these designs is collecting, processing, and analyzing heavy amounts of real-time data for automated assessment within relatively short time periods. After attending IBM’s Bluemix workshop, I was beginning to see how this could be a problem made simpler. Suddenly, the ambitious goal of being able to simultaneously track a child patient’s biometrics, progression of ocular dysfunction and providing appropriate healthcare feedback, seemed one step closer to concreting into reality.”

The Design Thinking Workshop helped identify problems with existing healthcare technologies. One of the major and repeated concerns clinicians have voiced is the inability to monitor patients’ conditions after treatment or diagnosis at the hospital or clinic. A reliable method to track individuals’ progress from the care of their own homes, is amongst the most sought-after technologies that is still under development today. This is where the potential behind the IoT and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) can be harnessed, allowing data to be readily accessible and analyzed from almost anywhere!

Excited about this technology and want to try it out for yourself? For anyone who is interested in connecting up their own Raspberry Pi to Bluemix with Node-RED, there is a tutorial video and other resources available here.

This journey into the Cloud is only just taking off! This taste of IoT has each of us hungry for the second IBM Bluemix session on Thursday, March 9th, 2017.

Are you a developer, designer, policy analyst, artist, or engaged citizen with a vested interest in healthcare? We invite you to get involved, and look forward to seeing everyone at our next event as we gear up and get ready for our Hackathon with our anchor partner CHEO-OCTC.

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