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A Prize-Winning Problem Statement for the George Hacks Medical Solutions Hackathon

Role: Problem Statement Sponsor 

PRD Development Duration: 1 day 

I developed and presented a problem statement for the 7th annual George Hacks Medical Solutions Hackathon, affecting user experience in clinical research. 2 out of 22 teams chose my problem statement and both won prizes specifically Best Overall and Best Demo. As an advisor, I engaged with the teams throughout the event, by answering their questions about the user pain points and problem context that inspired the problem statement.

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I'm so glad the problem statement helped the teams create solutions faster and more efficiently!

The Results

Both teams who selected this problem statement won top prizes, Best Overall and Best Demo 

Teams Medscribe and Data Den took home prizes for their solutions based on the problem statement I wrote. 

When developers understood underlying user problems (not just apparent ones) their problem-solving ability sky-rocketed 🚀

After presenting the problem statement to approximately 60 hackathon attendees, I provided even more clarification to teams attempting the problem statement. I loved explaining the upshot of the user pain points to designers and developers who are eager to assist others with their talents 💜 

In technology or problem solving in general, I think a lot of airtime is given to apparent problems and the need for quick solution-ing. And certainly, understanding apparent problems and quick solution-ing is important. 


But knowing why a problem is aggravating - the underlying or real problem - is more important. Understanding that the impact of a language barrier in a clinical trial isn't just the difference between being in a trial or not. Rather, it's the difference between potentially a longer life or a new treatment possibility for a larger population of people suffering.


Explaining this, I could see developers' and data scientists' curiosity increase even more. It appeared easier to solve because they understood the underlying problem. I could see them comprehend the gravity of the problem especially when I had them consider the challenge of language barriers for their life or that of family or friends. 


The Goal: Help clinical research participants and their families understand technical documents in more accessible language

Inspired by friends and colleagues working in medical research, insights from secondary sources, and my time as a user experience designer in clinical research solutions, I crafted a problem statement for students participating in the hackathon. This statement guided them in creating impactful, technologically agnostic solutions. I prompted the students to address both the challenges faced by both non-native and native English speakers in understanding the often technical and legal jargon in clinical research agreements that require participant consent. 

An opportunity to volunteer as a problem statement sponsor

I've been a volunteer with George Hacks for multiple years but in different capacities. This was my first experience as a problem statement sponsor after graduating with my Master's in Interaction Design and after experience in multiple healthcare related organizations. Problem Statement sponsors draft and present problem statements for which students ideate and prototype solution concepts. 

George Hacks challenges students to solve medical challenges using creative means

George Hacks is a student-run organization at the George Washington University (GW), which hosts several events including the annual Medical Solutions Hackathon. Students across GW participate by designing and developing solutions to a diverse array of medical challenges put forth by practitioners including seasoned physicians and patient advocates. 

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