Product Design & Development Lead - Georgia CTSA, Atlanta, GA, USA
May 2020 - Present
The Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance is an organism that aims to bring in academic and clinical research advancements into the general public
Our work focuses on creating simple mobile app or web tools to improve the patient experience using clinical and/or academic research. I am passionate about this work because I can merge my love for innovation in academia with my experience in delivering products to the public. Having worked in basic scientific research in the past I have seen how the emphasis on publishing can trump the implementation or scalability of the research, or the scientists themselves do not have the skills or frankly the time to devote to taking the proof of concept work into an application setting. Which is when I turned to engineering. However there I saw the problem was reversed, too much implementation and not enough basic research. I got lucky, and found a place that allows me to do both.
My involvement in the projects below began as an individual contributor, running through research, design, and lastly development on Swift for iOS; however now I lean on the leading and management side, planning the roadmap, reviewing designs, and ensuring that all aspects of the product fit together. I highlight a few projects below:
The following two projects are examples of my work as a Product Design and Development Manager (I would like to note that as an early-career Manager I still participated in the research and design activities however my role was largely in mentoring and giving feedback)
Diabetes is prevalent in 1 out of 5 Americans according to the CDC, the most common is Type 2, which tends to develop later in life. Less common is Type 1 which accounts for 5 - 10% of the cases of Diabetes in the US [CDC]. Young age (< 20 yrs old) tends to be where Type 1 gets diagnosed, this typically generates a lot of stress for parents who may not have Diabetes running in their family and/or come from an era where diabetes was associated with much worse outcomes; nowadays it is possible to live a relatively good and long life with diabetes. The responsibility of educating parents typically falls to pediatric centers such as children's hospitals. The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) has a 2-day diabetes-onset education program to onboard parents and kids into a life with Diabetes.
We were contacted by the program coordinator to investigate any pitfalls or possible improvements in their Diabetes program, which with the advent of Covid19 became virtual and many of the training activities had to be cancelled. We conducted research on the space and found a mobile app to be the fittest solution to accompany these patients on their time at the hospital and for the 6-weeks post-discharge. I lead a team of 1 designer and 2 developers throughout the design, evaluation, implementation, and testing phases of this tool.
The tool is in its last phases of development and will be piloted at CHOA in January 2022.
The following two projects are examples of my work as an Individual Contributor in Design and iOS Development, both projects I took care of from concept to public release.
Tuberculosis is still one of the most widespread infectious diseases present in modern healthcare. It affects 2.2 per 100,000 according to the CDC's latest statistics. Providers have a very specific set of guidelines to diagnose and treat the disease, however these are not standardized across states. In Georgia particularly, healthcare workers use the Georgia TB Reference Guide, a 100 page palm-sized booklet led by a team of experts printed every 3 - 5 years with updates to clinical management. The Department of Public Health reached out to my team to create a mobile app to support 1) the dissemination of this resource across the full state, 2) improve content upkeep, and 3) modernize the use of the resource to fit the expectations of the new generation of medical providers with digital technology.
The creation of this tool followed a user-centered design approach and took approximately 8 months from concept to public release in January 2022. The app is now available in the AppStore and PlayStore for download. Since the launch the app has been installed more than 200 times across multiple states in the US. At the time of this post, the app appears first on the Apple AppStore for the search query 'tuberculosis'.
A paper describing this work is pending publication.
A Cancer Predisposition diagnosis entails that a mutation in the genome increases the changes of developing cancer at some stage in life by 100%. Research has shown that ~5 - 10% of cancers in adulthood and pediatric cancers are associated with a hereditary cancer syndrome (Zhang et al 2015). While this predispositions are rare, they do impact the quality of life of millions of people in the US. For example, one of the syndromes called Lynch, has an incidence of 1 in 279 people. These predispositions are hereditary which entails they are passed down from a parent to their progeny.
The only preventive measure to date is periodical screening. While research on this area is still undergoing, it has been shown that a cancer caught early can greatly reduce morbidity. However sticking to this periodical screening can present many logistical challenges, in particular when children also have the predisposition. Different scan protocols, appointments, information to keep track of, and stress are common themes among these families. We created HomeTown to support families and individuals in managing and centralizing information regarding their cancer surveillance and that of their relatives. The app was launched in January 2022 and has received attention from cancer specific social groups and its information website can be viewed here
The app is available for download in the AppStore and PlayStores as the project is currently undergoing research. A process/methods paper is being submitted for publication at the medical journal Pediatric Blood and Cancer.
I presented this work at:
2022 American Society for Pediatric Hematology Oncology Conference A novel mobile app to facilitate surveillance protocol adherence in cancer predisposition patients. Sarah Mitchell, MD, Santiago J. Arconada Alvarez, MS, Bojana Pencheva, MMSc, Comfort Mwalija, BS, Maren C. Parsell, MBA, Morgan Greenleaf, MS, Christopher Porter, MD, Wilbur A. Lam, MD, PhD, Robert G. Mannino, PhD
2022 Southeast Regional Clinical & Translational Science Conference Theory-Based Design of a Novel Trauma Recovery Smartphone Application: Barriers and Successes. Smith RN, Arconada Alvarez SJ, Cordero V, Reid K, Greenleaf M, Ortiz Matos J, Thompson A, Parsell M, Hawk A, Sciarretta J, Koganti D, Williams K, Mannino R, Tracy B.
2021 CRIDC S.E.R.V.E - A mobile app tool for Trauma patients. Arconada Alvarez SJ, Greenleaf M, Cordero V, Mannino R, Parsell M, Tracy B, Smith RN
To ask for a professional reference you may contact any of these colleagues:
- Morgan Greenleaf, MS (Senior Program Manager) - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Maren Parsell, MBA (Director of Design Strategy)- email@example.com
- Rob Mannino, PhD (Technical Operations Director) - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wilbur Lam MD, PhD (Research Chair at Georgia Tech & Emory) - email@example.com
- Randi Smith MD, MPH (Trauma Surgeon at Grady's Hospital)- firstname.lastname@example.org