HospitalHero is an online platform that makes it easy for healthcare workers to request support for essential needs like meals, lodging, and medical supplies—and for volunteers to respond.
Keith Weissglass, Andrew Cantino
HospitalHero was inspired by watching the struggles faced by doctors and nurses in Wuhan, China during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and overwhelming caseloads placed an immense strain on healthcare workers, many of whom fell ill themselves. As COVID-19 spreads, we wanted to build a scalable tool to ensure our hospital heroes get the support they need to stay healthy and cared for so they can focus on saving lives.
What it does
HospitalHero is a web application that enables doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff to easily create and share a request for support. Potential requests include meals, lodging (to avoid infecting their family at home), medical supplies, and more. Hospital workers can share their own request with friends on social media, and volunteers can also browse requests in their community. Volunteers can respond to requests through the platform, allowing the two parties to coordinate. HospitalHero protects the contact information of the healthcare worker and allows them to modify their request over time.
How we built it
HospitalHero was built by a team of volunteers who met through COVID Accelerator (http://covidaccelerator.com/). After developing a basic proof-of-concept using Google Sites and AirTable, we built a fully functional web application that will officially launch on Monday 3/29. HospitalHero is built using Rails + React + GraphQL + Apollo + MaterialUI.
Core Contributors: Andrew Cantino • Chandler Moisen • Katie Pennachio • Keith Weissglass • Kelly Neuner • Purin Phanichphant • Sarah Harrison • Tyler Untisz. Additional Contributors: Amy Sorto • Christopher Guan • Dide Mertens • Eri Gentry • James Tran • Tito Jankowski.
Challenges we ran into
Our biggest product challenge to date was figuring out a way to overcome the notoriously difficult chicken-and-egg problem of building a two-sided marketplace. We needed a way for workers' requests to be met before we have a critical mass of volunteers. Rather than limit ourselves to a single pilot city, we designed the requests so they could be shared by providers with their own social network. This also overcame the challenge of requests requiring a high level of trust; if a nurse needs someone to walk her dog, it is much easier if the volunteer is a friend or friend-of-a-friend.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're incredibly proud of the team that has come together to make this project happen. Before this project, only two of our team members knew each other. It has been a delight watching this group of volunteers self-assemble into a high-performing product team.
What we learned
One of the big lessons is the power of transparency. We made the decision to open-source our code and make our entire roadmap public. This allowed potential volunteers to see how much progress we were making and see exactly how they could help. We also learned the importance of having a space to collaborate. This project would not have happened if we didn't have the COVID Accelerator community that volunteers could join.
What's next for HospitalHero
Our immediate next step is to improve the user experience based on feedback from hospital workers. For this tool to make an impact, we need to make it good enough that doctors and nurses find it so useful that they share it with their friends. Another important step is improving the experience for volunteers who are looking for someone to help. It's important that volunteers can find and respond to local requests even if they don't know a hospital worker personally.