Four South Dakota college students used game technology to develop a 3D model of the human body. Their design could shorten medical diagnosis times worldwide, earning them top honors in the first Sanford Health Tech Summit.
Jordan Oberg, Luke Fleck, Bailey Belisario and Connor Ford from Dakota State University in Madison took home the $13,000 grand prize. Their design relies on software called Unity, which is a common tech used in the gaming industry.
“This event plays to the strengths of the students involved,” said Adam Emerson, product manager for Sanford Health Technology Solutions. “It’s our hope that we’ll help them channel their passions into solutions in the health care field.”
Strategy for success
Emerson worked with Technology Solutions teammates Brian Viessman and Doug Townsend to develop the contest. Using a hackathon format, teams had 24 hours to complete their designs at Sanford Imagenetics.
All 13 groups finished the competition, a key goal for organizers.
“You don’t always have teams that stay for the entire event,” Viessman said. “Oftentimes, participants will drop out of a hackathon on the second day as they lose focus, motivation, or both.”
To solve the issue of dropouts, each team had mentors from Technology Solutions. Those volunteer coaches couldn’t tell participants what to do, but helped teams focus and use their time better while answering health care-specific questions.
In addition to the 3D model, Emerson said judges rewarded the winners for their use of a patient story. One team member struggled for seven months to find a diagnosis for his broken back. With 3D modeling, physicians could have peeled away virtual layers for a clear picture of the break.
Tech summit runners-up
Prize money for the event totaled $25,000 and was provided by Tech Summit sponsors Sirius Healthcare and F5. Other winning teams were:
- From Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Taha Afzal, Alexander Amayo, Daniel Leite and Pawan Subedi. Their second-place project envisioned an automated medication management system. They took home $7,000.
- From Dakota State University, Kyle Korman, Christopher Loutsch, Logan Stratton and Odin Bernstein. Their third-place project re-worked the existing Sanford My Chart mobile patient app to improve the patient experience. They won $5,000 for their efforts.
Project themes focused on patient experience, managing chronic disease and personal ownership of health data.
Sanford Technology Solutions hopes to host the next Tech Summit in Fall 2020.