Department of Medicine 2016 Tech Challenge

New Uses of Information Technology to Advance the Missions of the Department of Medicine

UCSF Shuttle BioCourier - Mobile App/GPS Shuttle Specimen Transport

Idea Status: 

Current Challenges

We used to be able to place patient samples (primarily blood and tissue specimens from hospitals/clinics) and research samples between campuses using the existing shuttle system. This presumably has been halted since shuttle drivers cannot be held responsible for the potentially biohazardous contents of any packages and the subsequent procedures for handling the samples should something happen during transit. The halting of this resource has placed the task of specimen/sample delivery on lab technicians, clinical research coordinators and other researchers. This amounts to at least one full hour of lost productivity for each delivery (to and from the site of origin), creating an enormous personnel burden for the university staff.


Mobile App Based Solution

If a mobile app were to link the UCSF database of training history with the GPS location of a participating shuttle rider, the occupied shuttle could now be tagged as active for sample transport. The app would require UCSF personnel to sign up, linking their training history to their username and enabling GPS features of their mobile device. App usability would be broken into two phases: a data acquisition phase and a rider input phase. The data acquisition phase would simply utilize participants shuttle activity and training history to build a database of statistics on shuttle routes. This data would give you a percentage chance of each shuttle route being active for transport, defined by having at least one rider that is certified for handling biological specimens. UCSF would have to provide some basic incentive for downloading the BioCourier App, or simply incorporate this first phase of data collection using the existing UCSF mobile app. The second phase would begin to involve rider input. This would allow a rider to let the app know that they were about to ride a shuttle. This would raise certainty of shuttle activation to 100% and allow other researchers to plan their shipments more effectively. The timing of a passenger notifying the app of a ride is essential to labs getting notification for dropping off the specimens, so an incentive from UCSF would have to be involved to motivate users to accurately report their rides ahead of time. An accuracy rating for each user would be reported by the app so that potential shippers could see the likelihood that a rider would actually be present on the shuttle. This phase would work in tandem with the first phase, so if someone were to fail to show for a shuttle ride they activated, it could still be activated by another rider and the odds of that happening would be reported to the shipper. Incentives could include anything from discounted coffee and food on campus to bonuses through UCSF resources such as gym membership. If the app is well designed from a UX perspective, participation level required to ensure functionality would be quite low and alleviate a substantial personnel strain on labs and clinical research teams. Initial discussions with numerous PIs suggest that this sort of system would be enthusiastically and widely utilized across the university.


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