Independent Project Brainstorming

Next week we'll start our first independent Rails project! I'm really excited about it, and looking forward to the challenge. I really wanted to find a problem to solve that I've had real-world experience with, and felt like I understood enough to develop a creative solution.

In the past few years I've seen a handful of health practitioners, mostly independent folks or very small clinics. I've worked with acupuncturists from a Chinese medicine background, naturopaths, M.D.s and nutritionists. Upon making my first appointment with them, they'll have me fill out intake paperwork to get my history and ask questions specific to their style of practice. A Chinese herbalist will ask very different questions than your typical M.D. and vice versa, therefore they've all created their own intake forms. These are often long, and will take me several minutes to complete at my first appointment. If they're really tech-savvy, they might email me a PDF ahead of time, for me to print, complete, scan and email back. In the end, they have a paper copy and maybe a PDF, it took me a long time to complete, and none of the data is stored in a way that makes it easy to access or view over a few months or years to track how a patient is progressing.

So for my project, I'm going to make a customizable patient intake application. This will not only be easier and faster for patients, but doctors will have their patients' info in a database they can pull from. Eventually, I can see myself taking this project and expanding it to including data visualization, appointment setting, and even be a portal for patients to retrieve copies of their medical records. For the first iteration over the nine day project, I hope to have a set of stock questions doctors can choose from, as well as a way for them to create new questions to be added. Questions could be tagged with keywords to help group symptoms by organ/function, and doctors will receive an automatic notification when a patient completes their forms, so they'll know to review the answers.

This is going to be a fun and challenging project, and will really test my skills working solo and keeping organized and focused on small goals. I'm always most concerned about learning first, delivering second, while in this program but of course I want to have something I feel proud to demo when the project is over. Building the forms will be an interesting programming challenge, and I think the project won't need very much design to be functional. I definitely do not want to have to spend a lot of time on the design since I'm more concerned about continuing to learn Ruby, Rails and databases while I'm still in gSchool. I'm really hoping that whatever I build I'm able to expand with some of the other ideas I listed above, perhaps even for my last independent project of the program.