Participant Resources

User Story: Mitchell’s Journey to Enhance Healthcare with Machine Learning

Here’s a look at how Mitchell Coplan, an experienced developer and Devpost user, harnesses the power of machine learning to evolve the healthcare industry.

Embarking on a mission to revolutionize healthcare through the power of machine learning, Mitchell Coplan is not just a participant in hackathons; he’s a visionary on a quest for positive change. Join us as we delve into Mitchell’s inspiring journey of exploring the intersection of technology and healthcare.

See how Mitchell puts his mission into action—his project Extraction of LVEF from medical chart text won first place in the AWS Health AI Hackathon.

What’s your background in tech and healthcare?

I am a data science leader with a decade-long background in healthcare. I have always wanted to work in the healthcare industry because I think creating progress in healthcare is one of the best things we can do for humanity. I have worked in a clinical research role at a medical center, a value-based care analytics role at a large healthcare provider, and various other roles at healthcare technology companies. Currently, I work at Stanson Health where we develop clinical decision-support technology to improve patient care and reduce administrative work. 

What inspired you to focus on healthcare solution hackathons?

My inspiration to focus on healthcare solutions through hackathons stems from witnessing firsthand the potential for technology to revolutionize patient care. My experience working on the provider side at the University of Chicago and Northwestern Medicine showed me that there is so much room for improvement in healthcare. 

In my opinion, the healthcare sector technology is ~10 years behind big tech companies. The healthcare industry is slow to adopt new technologies and does not have a data-driven culture. I like contributing to hackathons because it gives me the platform to test out many different minimum viable products (MVPs) in the healthcare space and get feedback on my work.  

What unique challenges and opportunities do healthcare-focused hackathons present?

Participating in healthcare-focused hackathons presents a mix of challenges and opportunities. The main two healthcare challenges are the need for complex domain expertise and protected health information. Luckily, my work experience has given me some understanding of the healthcare industry and the types of challenges confronted by the industry.  

Due to HIPPA, all private health data is protected and there are many regulations around how health data can be utilized. This is a limitation because it prevents machine learning solutions from accessing the data needed to train the models. In order to circumvent this limitation, anonymized health datasets can be used to train models and test software. For example, I have used the MIMIC-III dataset for a variety of different projects. 

The opportunities in healthcare hackathons can be significant because any solutions developed could potentially help improve patient care, make healthcare more affordable, or reduce doctor and nurse workload. And I would bet that anyone who has received healthcare in the USA would be happy to tell you there are lots of areas that could be improved. 

What advice do you have for developers looking to make a meaningful impact in healthcare through technology?

My advice is for them to immerse themselves in the healthcare ecosystem. I think that in order to truly make good products in healthcare, you have to fully understand the issues and problems that exist in healthcare. Additionally, I would recommend developers start experimenting with healthcare data—there are lots of datasets that are publicly available for developers.

What is your vision for the future of healthcare technology?

The United States spends more than any other country on healthcare per capita but continues to lag in quality metrics compared to other developed nations. My vision for the future of healthcare technology centers around leveraging AI and data-driven insights to bridge this gap.

For instance, consider the integration of AI into diagnostic processes, where algorithms can analyze medical images, such as X-rays or MRIs, aiding clinicians in more accurate and timely diagnosis. This not only improves patient outcomes but also optimizes resource utilization.

Precision medicine, tailored to individual genetics, is another key aspect. With advancements in genomic analysis, treatments can be customized based on a patient's unique genetic makeup. This targeted approach enhances therapeutic efficacy and minimizes adverse effects, exemplified by breakthroughs in cancer treatments like immunotherapies.

"Technology should be a catalyst for positive change, not only reducing costs but also significantly improving patient outcomes and overall healthcare efficiency," said Mitchell Coplan.

Embracing innovations like these, while ensuring interoperability and maintaining a focus on ethical considerations, will be crucial in reshaping the healthcare landscape.

What role can developers play in contributing to societal well-being through hackathons and technological innovation?

Developers can play a critical role in tackling societal challenges by writing open-source code and sharing their creations. Hackathons serve as an excellent avenue for rapidly developing minimum viable products (MVPs) and gaining visibility for their projects. By actively participating in open-source initiatives, developers not only furnish foundational code for fellow developers but also make substantial contributions to technological advancement.

As developers, you have the power to use your skills for good. Inspired to make a change in healthcare? Check out our health-related hackathons happening here.

If you have your own inspiring story or would like to share your thoughts on hackathons and their impact, we'd love to hear from you.