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Tech and medical students team up for UC Irvine's Med AppJam II

Medical and computer science students rarely mingle in the same classroom, much less the same part of campus, but as the intersection between technology and healthcare continues to widen, events like Med AppJam show that the two groups have quite a bit in common.

UC Irvine School of Medicine and Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences students are teaming up again for a Nov. 22 “app jam” designed to create Apple-based applications with healthcare utility. Teams of five to six students were named on Nov. 8 and are spending the following two weeks hammering out caffeine-fueled ideas.

A healthy competition for apps

The product of their effort? Apps that may remind users to take their meds, help patients better explain the basis of their pain to their physicians or efficiently track patient medical histories. Just to name a few.

On Nov. 22, the teams will present their products to judges representing UC Irvine faculty and tech companies that include Local Splash, Visible Health, Microsoft and MobilityWare. The top three teams will receive $1,000, $500 and $250, respectively, as prizes.

Last year in the inaugural Med AppJam, 19 teams vied for the crown, which was captured by Bren School students Matthew Chan, Bryan Lam, Drake Tetreault and Lita Patel, as well as MD/MBA students Peggy Bui and Joe Hanson. Their Life Buoy app — designed to be particularly helpful during disaster situations such as like Hurricane Sandy — earned praise for creating a network that allowed patients and physicians to connect quickly through their smart phones and tablets.

Building bridges between technology and healthcare

Collaboration between students in the two schools is inevitable. The Bren School regularly sponsors AppJam competitions — a concurrent one involves UC Irvine undergraduates coaching Orange County middle-school kids to create educational apps for K-6 students.

Med AppJam is inspired by the School of Medicine’s iMedEd initiative, which is the basis of the nation’s first medical education program to completely adopt the iPad format for classroom and clinical skills training. Many UC Irvine medical students have embraced the iMedEd esthetic, learning how to program and regularly reviewing medical education apps and technology on their iMedEd blog.

“This is where medicine is heading,” said Dr. Ralph V. Clayman, dean of the UC Irvine School of Medicine. “Mobile medicine — using smart phones and iPads to access health care. And with Med AppJam, we see the powerful association between computer science and medical students at UC Irvine to create new and effective ways for people to connect.”

“Developments in information technology are transforming virtually every industry,” said Hal Stern, the Ted and Janice Smith Family Foundation Dean of the Bren School. “It is exciting to see UC Irvine medical and computer science students work together to bring such changes to healthcare.”

For more information, contact Tom Vasich, associate director of UC Irvine Communications, at 949-824-6455 or tmvasich@uci.edu.

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