The STA is pleased to announce it’s 10th Annual Engineering Challenge to be held in conjunction with the 2018 Annual Meeting at the Turnberry Isle Miami in Aventura, Florida. The competition is open to engineering student groups (BS, MS, or PhD level) from accredited university engineering departments. Groups may have faculty mentorship, but the work should be that of the students. The work may be part of an engineering design course.

Submissions Due: Friday, December 15, 2017
CLICK HERE to Submit!

2018 STA Annual Meeting Engineering Challenge
Use of the Blockchain for (Difficult) Airway Assessment

Anesthesiologists have a relatively unique need for access to one specific aspect of the medical history – previous difficulty with intubation. While individual healthcare entities may have a standardized approach to labeling a patient as a “difficult airway”, what happens when I move to another city, or my insurance carrier tells me I can no longer get care at my previous hospital? While we all hope for the ubiquitous EMR that can follow us from cradle to grave, the technical barriers to this are immense. The current STA Engineering Challenge explores the use of blockchain technology to address this problem.

The blockchain is a public ledger for recording transactions; integrity is assured by computation of a hash on the data, assuring that the ledger has not been altered. The ledger is organized into blocks (which are the object being hashed), these form a chain, thus the name. While the ledger is public, it may contain encrypted data.

Adnet* described the Intubation Difficulty Score, which is a simple method to record the level of difficulty encountered during an intubation. It is comprised of seven objective elements which contribute to an overall score, and can be encoded in a few bytes. Scores above 5 might cause a prudent practitioner to alter his/her airway management plan. We will assume that the IDS is protected health information. 

The Challenge: 
Design a system for recording an IDS and associating this with a patient unique identifier in a blockchain, and subsequently recovering this information. 

The Rules:
Entrants should be “trainees”, meaning fellows, residents, medical students, graduate students, undergraduates, etc. Teams may contain faculty, but the work should be primarily performed by the trainees. As always, you can present over Skype.

As always, the purpose of the Engineering Challenge is to explore new technology and educate the membership on it’s potential.

For questions on the challenge specifications contact:

Jeff E. Mandel, MD, MS
Chair, STA Engineering Challenge

* Adnet F, Borron SW, Racine SX, Clemessy JL, Fournier JL, Plaisance P, Lapandry C. The intubation difficulty scale (IDS): proposal and evaluation of a new score  characterizing the complexity of endotracheal intubation. Anesthesiology. 1997 Dec;87(6):1290-7. PubMed PMID: 9416711.

Past Participants

2017 Engineering Challenge Participants:

Rami Saab, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Nirav Bhasar, MD, University of Miami

Elie Sarraf, MDCM, B Eng, University of Vermont

Ryan Durk, MD, Washington University, Saint Louis

Krithika Anand, MD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

2016 Engineering Challenge Winner:

Ali Jalali, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

2015 Engineering Challenge Winner:

Hassanpour Ali, MD, Temple University

2014 Engineering Challenge Winners:

  • First Place: Nicholas McGill, University of Pennsylvania
  • Second Place: Ryan Durk, Washington University Saint Louis
  • Third Place: Goeto Dantes, University of Florida