This blog post is about Makers in Healthcare, in preparation for the #HITsm tweetchat on Friday, April 15th, from noon to 1PM ET, inviting both the #HITsm community and #SciFest attendees. I will be attending #SciFest, the 4th Annual USA Science & Engineering Festival, that runs April 15-17 in DC.
Why? The STEM/STEAM Maker Movement is a Great Cause that has potential to empower patients, providers, and create innovative solutions. And the Health IT Social Media community is a great adopter of great causes. Seems like a great match to me!
I’d love to see #HITsm folks following and interviewing #SciFest folks, and maybe even becoming #SciFest folks. Vice versa, I’d love to see more STEM/STEAM Maker folks participate in the health IT social media community. It’s a healthcare STEM/STEAM Maker party!
– Charles Webster MD, follow me at @wareFLO.
This is how we make! This is how we make! Oh oh!
Below is my pulse oximeter tie, which never very worked well, because I can’t sew (the steel thread kept shorting!). But I learned a lot! Also shown is my own wearable tech project, @MrRIMP, a 3D-printed, Arduino-based pocket robot for pediatricians to entertain their patients.
— Charles Webster MD ⎌ (@wareFLO) March 30, 2015
What can healthcare and heath IT learn from the Maker Movement?
I spend a lot of time with both communities. I go to maker faires, hardware hackathons, open hardware summits, and, of course, the USA Science & Engineering Festival. I also go to health IT conferences and hang out with HIT social media tweeps in real life and online. It’s kind of like having two really good friends, who I’d like to introduce! If even one or two of each community ends up following each other on Twitter, I’ll be happy. Beyond happy: ecstatic!
We CODE DISCONNECT HACK yeah!
All my girls code and still look pretty!
(This Is How We Make!)
According to Wikipedia: “‘Maker culture’ emphasizes learning-through-doing (constructivism) in a social environment. Maker culture emphasizes informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment. Maker culture encourages novel applications of technologies, and the exploration of intersections between traditionally separate domains and ways of working … read more here.”
Open source electronics, such as the inexpensive and easy-to-learn Arduino board, and 3D printing, play outsized roles in the Maker Movement. However, hardware doesn’t have to run computer programs, it can be any sort of tangible, physical, crafted solution to a problem. For example, I love the idea of these IV pole “Lilypads” on wheels (invented by a hospital patient).
— Empowering Patients (@Empoweringpts9) September 18, 2015
So, what can health IT learn from the Maker Movement? First of all we should examine what might seem like obvious differences between what Makers do and what Health IT people do. (I’ll use some simplistic stereotypes here…) Health IT people write (test, install, train, maintain…) software. Makers make physical things. Health IT saves lives. Makers make gadgets, interactive toys, performance art, that entertain, well, mostly other Makers. Health IT people mostly do what bureaucrats tell them. Makers mostly don’t.
Now let me be clear. When I’m sick, I don’t want to be dependent on some hobbyist’s personally soldered heart monitor. What I am talking about here is thinking different, figuring out how to do it cheap, and, most important, the energizing feeling of empowerment that comes from taking control of the means of production.
— Charles Webster MD ⎌ (@wareFLO) September 19, 2014
What’s the connection between the Maker Movement and my hobbyhorse, healthcare workflow? Workflow “is” the interface between people and technology. Most problems with usability, blamed for lack of EHR and HIT adoption, boil down to problems with workflow. Just as the Maker Movement emphasizes putting physical tools in the hands of the people, let’s put IT tools in the hands of the people.
What’s it like getting started hacking hardware and making?
The following is a stereotypical workflow for introducing yourself to the world of Arduino microprocessors. It’s all about sticking wires in stuff, fiddling with example code, pushing buttons and making LED lights light.
You’ll start of with the “Hello World” of Arduino. Download the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Connect the board to your laptop with the supplied USB cable. Select the presupplied program Blink (for blinking an LED). Click the load/run arrow. The compiled program is sent across the cable and the tiny board LED will start to blink. Now modify the delay from 500 milliseconds to 100 milliseconds. Save and reload. The LED blinks faster.
Now, take one of the free-floating LEDs and stick the wires into the GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) pins. The LED blinks.
Now run wires between the Arduino pins and the breadboard (basically pushing the bare end of wires into little holes). Connect a button. Control the LED with the button. Replace the button with a sensor, such as a light sensor. Control the brightness with the room dimness (simulated with your hand).
That’s it. You’ve got power, actuators (LEDs, buzzers), sensors (buttons, light detectors), and the code on the board. Use different actuators, perhaps coming from modules controlled via bluetooth or over WiFi from the cloud, and you’re now playing in Internet of Things land. Supply power from a battery and wear the Arduino, you playing in wearable technology land. Switch to a smaller, more attractive, but still Arduino compatible board, add an accelerometer, and you’ve developed you own crude FitBit.
Arduino doesn’t assume you know how to program. It teaches you what you need to know about programming as you go along, and isn’t nearly as complicated as the code necessary to write apps for iPhones or Android phones.
USA Science & Engineering Festival
I hope you were inspired! Maybe next year there will be a Hackable Healthcare Hardware and Makers booth at #SciFest! Twitter chat questions below.
— Charles Webster MD ⎌ (@wareFLO) April 27, 2014
Topic questions for #HITsm and #SciFest Chat on Friday, April 15, at 12 Noon ET
T1: What kind of healthcare #Maker synergies exist between the #SciFest and #HITsm communities?
T2: Do you have a favorite Healthcare #Maker you follow? What is their project? #HITsm #SciFest
T3: Do you have an idea for a healthcare prototype that you might Make? #Maker #HITsm #SciFest
T4: How can #HITsm help #SciFest healthcare makers connect & promote their #Maker projects?
T5: Who’s interested in a healthcare #Maker workshop @ #HIMSS17 or by #Blab? #HIMSSmakers #HITsm #SciFest
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