2013 IT Innovation Contest

A team-based contest for creative IT solutions

Mobile App to Extend our Clinical Care: BabyHeartTrak Mobile App

Proposal Status: 

Description of Project

We envision a smartphone app that facilitates collection of basic health data from congenital heart patients, allowing accurate monitoring and follow up and leading to reduced morbidity and mortality.

Infants with congenital heart conditions suffer from high rates of mortality after they leave the hospital. Phone-based home monitoring programs began 10 years ago and have decreased mortality.

Such programs are a great first step. Through them we have learned that systematic collection and tracking of very basic health data metrics such as weight, oxygen saturation, heart rate and caloric intake over time allows for improved follow up and significantly decreasing mortality in this population.

However, current systems of data collection are tedious, slow, and error prone. For example, Emma Olson, our team member and nurse practitioner in the Pediatric Heart Center collects, stores, and transfers data in a labor intensive and highly manual process. She sometimes must enter the same data manually 4-5 times across multiple IT platforms (Apex, Filemaker, Excel, pen/paper, etc). Just to obtain basic data, she spends significant amounts of time each week in challenging phone conversations, often requiring language translation assistance—thus increasing opportunities for miscommunication and human error.

Our BabyHeartTrak app will be the first step toward a digital, mobile-based systematic data collection and will play a leading role in establishing new mobile-based monitoring techniques for our sickest patients. We envision a simple, readily accessible, smart phone-based app that will enable simple data entry by patients' parents. The app will enable health care providers to monitor for signs of alarm. By allowing the parents to track their baby's status over time, families will be empowered to better understand the health progress of their babies.

As professionals in the UCSF Pediatric Heart Center, we have come together to improve patient care through improved data collection. Nick has experience working with this data and writing electronically secured programs to collect patient data.  Emma is ready to implement this app with her patient population. Finally, Doctors Larrazabal and Brook conceived of the idea to transfer home monitoring to a mobile platform and have prepared the clinical requirements and oversight to make the data collection of clinical importance.


BabyHeartTrak is a mobile app designed to assist parents in simply recording their children’s health data so that it may be easily shared with their health care providers. By using mobile data collection, the ultimate goal is to improve health outcomes for children with complex health conditions.

Our final deliverable is a mobile app that includes four simple screens:

-       Record of baby characteristics (name, DOB, diagnosis, recommended caloric intake)

-       Daily log (date, weight, heart rate, oxygen saturation)

-       Feed log (date, time, and quantity of feeds)

-       Progress report (graphs that track progress and compare against norms)

Our team lead, Dr. Larrazabal, is a native Spanish speaker who will facilitate production of our app in both English and Spanish.

Our work plan includes the following interim steps:

  • As a team we have created the initial app design using software application Balsamiq (see attachment). This is already complete.
  • Our team member Nick Robins, a programmer at UCSF, has built web databases with similar cardiology data and will manage the building the mobile app using our Balsamiq designs. He will also coordinate the building of a computer dashboard for medical professionals to manage and monitor patient data.
  • Nick and Dr. Larrazabal are currently reviewing applications from mobile programmers.
  • Christina LaMontagne (a seasoned product manager from the health IT industry) will lead a user testing process to ensure that the user interface is simple and accessible for users.
  • Emma will also be responsible for the deliverable of a basic training curriculum for our users.  

Impact on UCSF’s mission and community

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous in the US and around the world. Especially in developing countries, mobile devices have become a major channel of communication and data storage. By advancing mobile data collection and analytic techniques at UCSF, we are generating new knowledge and best practices to share across departments within our hospital and at our partner sites worldwide. We aim to contribute to the setting of a new standard of data collection and patient monitoring–starting with our youngest and most fragile patients.

Eventually BabyHeartTrak will contribute to efforts to automatize collection of patient data such that the data feed directly into EMR technology like Apex. With enhanced automatization, nurses and clinicians are free to spend less time collecting data and more time diagnosing, treating, and caring for patients.

Finally, one of the primary benefits of our app is the empowerment of patients to own their health data. We believe that when patients have access to their own data they are better able to learn about and manage their own health. We believe the use of mobile apps creates a more engaged and healthy patient population.

List of team members, roles, and estimated division of responsibility & time

  • Dr. Luis Alesandro Larrazabal: 15 hours
    Pediatric Cardiology Fellow @ UCSF, lead app inventor & designer, team leader
  • Dr. Michael Brook: 3 hours
    Clinical expert and senior pediatric cardiology attending @ UCSF, senior clinical advisor
  • Emma Olson: 20 hours
    Nurse Practitioner @ UCSF Pediatric Heart Center, lead user responsible for implementation and patient/caregiver training on app
  • Nick Robins: 10 hours
    Senior Programmer @ UCSF Pediatric Heart Center, lead developer of current web-based system, responsible for managing development of app
  • Mobile app programmer TBD: 20 hours

We have posted this job and already received 13 applications/bids to build this product. We are confident we can find a great programmer to collaborate on this project.

  • Christina LaMontagne: 5 hours
    Experienced product manager of technology applications, health IT start-up executive, MBA (non-UCSF)



Selected feedback from Reviewers:

Concern about who would be responsible for looking at the data; considerations/implications of feeding unfiltered data into EHR.


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