Lean culture hacking with Blockchain via OA Digital Health boot camp

Congratulations to UIC undergraduate entrepreneurs - Gabriel Piekarek, Kerry Kurcz, Shay Gin, and Ja Goo - who recently completed our Digital Health boot camp and placed #1 in student team competition. 

Boot camp instructors were Narciso Albarracin, MS, CSM and Ephraim Caangay, MD. The team was tasked to explore how caregivers can effectively share patient-reported outcomes for seniors with cognitive disorders using Blockchain technology.


At ONTOADAPTIVE, LLC (OA), we are passionate about making a real-world impact where humans and cognitive technologies meet. As a UIC College of Business (COB) Capstone sponsor, we are proud to give back and run boot camps as part of our “Lean culture hacking” mindset. By Lean, we mean the “third way” or continual experimentation, taking risks and learning from failure; and understanding that repetition and practice is the prerequisite to mastery. By culture, we mean innovation is mainly a human process and not just about technology. By hacking, we mean our special blend of Lean thinking, Digital Health Design, and Agile product development from the trenches.

What were outcomes or key results? Within 15 weeks, the team delivered patient experience maps which guided the development of a minimum viable product (MVP). Specifically, they baked off two major Blockchain platform leaders: Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud. Activities converged to a final “demo day”, a formal report, and finally, a team competition. All these learnings help manage risks and guide future investments with regard to a more informed technology direction with boots to the ground reconnaissance on Microsoft Azure Blockchain-as-service (i.e., Ethereum) versus IBM’s Hyperledger offerings.

Were there challenges?  Absolutely. For many undergraduates, this is their first exposure to real-world team-based immersion into stakeholder communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and assessing bleeding-edge methods and technology. Accelerated exposure to human-centered design (HCD), Cloud, Blockchain, and Agile can be overwhelming. Explicit mentoring, direction, and guidance is required. Blockchain technology is moving rapidly that much platform learning was done on the fly.


No free lunch. For an effective boot camp, plan for about 150 to 200 hours of effort for directing, mentoring, scheduling the time of faculty, subject matter experts (SMEs), and technologists, and organizing for iterative and final “demo day” reviews.  Internally, your culture and processes will be challenged - How well can you describe your problems? Are they digestible? How are your onboarding processes? How do boot camp concepts align with other student learning objectives? What are the skill gaps?  Are your methods, technology platforms, and subscriptions ready? What methods or collaboration tools are most effective?

Co-create with us. As with our boot camps, we approach industry problems, engage clients, and build products with a “culture hacking” mindset. We tackle seemingly impossible problems into more digestible components with our customized approach to  and technology exploration. Curious on which Blockchain approach was selected and why? Or even how to approach your internal innovation? Drop us a line. Look for follow-up posts on the Blockchain in Healthcare event recently held in Chicago.

Happy New Year: Digital Health perspectives on AI / Cognitive Computing for 2018


As we close out and retrospect 2017, it is clear that artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing were major themes. For Digital Health executives, entrepreneurs, and experience designers, below are some great resources we shortlisted. We hope it makes it into your 2018 strategic thoughts.

  1. Value-based care (VBC) + AI on a continuum. Much of 2017 was a transition year for U.S. providers and payers understanding how to transition to newer VBC models. As physician leaders, Toussaint and Halamka have both deployed innovations effectively that have improved: population health, outcomes, and cost reduction. Toussaint has deployed VBC models at scale using core Lean principles, while Halamka runs BIDMC innovation like a lean startup targeting pragmatic care problems. In his last quarterly HIT policy update, he highlighted on pragmatic use of AI within exam rooms. Imagine asking “Where is Doctor Smith?” and getting answers back.
  2. The Patient-Physician interface. AMA’s Madera re-emphasized physician-led change in order to tackle U.S. Healthcare’s $3T costs with “puddles” of interoperability in an ocean of siloed big data. His vision of AI focuses on the patient-physician(s) interface with care coordinated by cognitive computing. He clearly emphasizes how physicians can improve care via intelligence augmentation (IA) versus EHR data entry tasks. In 2018, those who design the AI-powered experiences well will win.
  3. Real world AI via cognitive computing. This year, many Digital Health startups launched using AI as a disruptive technology, while industry conservatives such as medical associations strategically positioned for relevance. This ranges from Andrew Ng’s Woebot as a mental health digital platform or AMA’s Health2047 portfolio companies such as Switch. Davenport, et al. anticipates mainstream going real-world AI and is a great synthesis of previous Deloitte and IBM thought leadership on cognitive computing captured in a MOOC (October 2015) and enhanced with recent field interviews. The punch line? Focus on automating non-value added human tasks to free up more cognitive value add.
  4. Going deeper and staying relevant. Most of the recent AI hype is within an area of machine learning (ML) called deep learning. In 2016, Mount Sinai clinical researchers proved real-world use of deep learning for EHR use cases and representing a “deep patient”. If you are feeling out of the AI loop and want to dig deeper, Andrew Ng’s deep learning specialization offers high-yield content for a wide audience. This has been updated in August 2017 and reflects Ng’s AI industry experiences after returning from Baidu. If you are business-focused and want a quick breadth level pass, auditing his “Heroes of Deep Learning” interviews quickly surveys recent AI research and industry trends. If you are technology-savvy and want the details, five-course modules full of Python notebooks with neural networks await you.

At OA, we advise on cognitive computing strategy and implementation in Healthcare. One of our innovation efforts on the use of conversational agents using IBM Watson versus Microsoft Cognitive technologies got noticed here. Curious? Drop us a line. Look for more relevant posts in the new year.