A digital innovation bootcamp to remotely join and empower college students to resolve COVID-19-related medical issues

A digital innovation bootcamp to remotely join and empower college students to resolve COVID-19-related medical issues

This was a four-week, immersive digital innovation bootcamp that included small-group-based experiential studying targeted on healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship utilizing on-line movies, digital workplace hours and design critiques, together with a capstone pitch competitors. It was developed for any undergraduate or graduate pupil, however primarily targeted on healthcare skilled college students and engineering, enterprise and different arts and sciences college students taken with healthcare.

The bootcamp aimed to enhance understanding in 5 core-knowledge-focused goals: (i) performing market analysis; (ii) growing an answer/prototype for a selected drawback; (iii) marketing strategy growth; (iv) pitching/presenting an concept; and (v) engaged on a multidisciplinary staff by means of the design and entrepreneurship course of. Moreover, there have been a number of goals designed to impart interprofessional coaching by means of innovation and entrepreneurial experiences: (i) foster relationships that show how one can collaborate on a multidisciplinary staff to advertise well being; (ii) impart expertise with healthcare know-how, innovation and entrepreneurship; (iii) allow a way of contribution to healthcare throughout the pandemic; (iv) present a greater alternative for sustained studying in comparison with the weekend ‘hackathons’ widespread throughout college environments; (v) present alternatives to work with college students from different disciplines, universities or areas of the world; (vi) obtain participation from girls and minority college students that’s consultant of our healthcare communities; and (vii) advance improvements designed to enhance well being within the pandemic.


We hosted the bootcamp between 11 Might and 5 June 2020. Given the speedy acceleration of the pandemic, we spent 4 weeks earlier than the beginning of the bootcamp growing the curriculum and collaborative platform. Eight Sling Well being volunteers organized and ran this system.

Recruitment technique

Sling Well being leveraged its nationwide community of innovators whereas participating in outreach to associated organizations. Promotional supplies have been despatched to all chapters to make use of in additional promoting the occasion to their respective establishments. By means of nationwide and chapter partnerships (for instance, with the American Medical Affiliation, nationwide hackathon organizations {and professional} affinity teams), the bootcamp obtained further publicity to college students with aligned pursuits. Advisors have been contacted at universities throughout the nation to disperse data. The bootcamp worth proposition drove recruitment: connection to friends with related motivation, entry to numerous mentors, a cogent studying construction and considerable assets to actualize the COVID-19 options developed. Potential individuals, who might be part of both individually or with a longtime staff, accomplished a web-based software for consideration (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix A). We additionally recruited consultants and professionals to function mentors for groups by distributing a sign-up type to chapter mentors and neighborhood companions (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix B). Mentors have been chosen based mostly on their subject of experience and availability. In the end, 26 consultants actively served as mentors all through the 4 weeks—a mentor-to-student ratio of roughly 1:3.

Communication instruments

Internet-based digital collaboration and video convention instruments have been used for the bootcamp (for instance, Slack, Google Sheets and Zoom). Digital workspaces on Slack have been created for staff communication, bulletins, deliverable deadlines and mentor collaboration. Contributors got on-line entry to a high-level view of this system, submission hyperlinks with due dates for deliverables, direct hyperlinks to academic assets (for instance, patent software assist) and sign-up sheets for design critiques and mentor chats (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix C; names eliminated for privateness).

Group formation

Group formation started three days earlier than the bootcamp began. A Slack channel devoted to the formation of groups supplied an area to submit introductions, seek for groups to affix, or search expertise to construct current groups. Contributors have been inspired to be proactive about searching for groups the place their expertise could possibly be effectively used, in addition to to incorporate college students from varied disciplines (healthcare, engineering, enterprise, and so on.) and establishments. In the end, college students got full autonomy in forming groups.


The bootcamp was impressed by Sling Well being’s eight-month program that makes use of biodesign and lean-startup ideas and is designed to emphasise speedy growth, engagement and entry to suggestions14,15. The bootcamp began with an onboarding assembly at which individuals have been launched to the communication instruments, assets and program timeline (Fig. 1). The tutorial curriculum targeted on 5 core goals (performing market analysis, growing an answer/prototype, setting up a marketing strategy, pitching/presenting an concept and dealing on a multidisciplinary staff) and progressed in a weekly style (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Design and innovation framework of digital innovation bootcamp.
figure 1

Movement chart depicting the totally different phases of staff development throughout the Digital Innovation Bootcamp from a curricular and useful resource standpoint. Darkish grey containers outline weekly objectives and goals. Illustration supplied by A. Dicks and A. Robinson in affiliation with InPrint at Washington College in St. Louis.

The Sling Well being govt staff guided college students by means of this system. Initially of every week, an govt member hosted a program-wide check-in to stipulate objectives and occasions. Moreover, groups have been paired with a Sling Well being liaison to streamline communication, guarantee staff development by means of bootcamp milestones and focus on related assets.

Lastly, weekly design critiques (DR) have been held, with a panel of two to 4 mentors and taking part groups concluding every week’s programming. The groups obtained suggestions and steerage based mostly on the week’s milestones (Fig. 1). Every DR was half-hour in size, with quarter-hour reserved for presentation and quarter-hour for mentor suggestions. These DR periods have been organized inside bigger 90-minute blocks, by which mentors attended three consecutive periods. Requiring groups to attend the total 90-minute blocks meant that groups might study from their friends, contributed to a way of neighborhood inside the program and helped construct inter-team relationships that might prolong past the confines of the bootcamp. Really helpful deliverables for every DR got to college students within the orientation information (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix D).


An academic orientation information describing the general objectives, with particulars about program milestones, served because the spine of this studying expertise (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix D). In partnership with the Entrepreneurship for Biomedicine program funded by the US Nationwide Institutes of Well being16, educational movies have been curated to elucidate innovation and entrepreneurship ideas to assist college students and not using a background within the subject. Further lectures from consultants in healthcare, enterprise capital and startup accelerators, and entrepreneurship have been curated from YouTube and ready college students for his or her subsequent steps after the bootcamp (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix C). The bootcamp additionally supplied in-kind and monetary providers to assist the tasks. Groups might apply for assist for as much as $500 in prototyping bills per week, awarded based mostly on advantage and growth wants decided utilizing a web-based software (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix E). Moreover, over $2,000 in prize cash was awarded to the highest three groups to assist growth after the bootcamp. In partnership with a cooperative that connects sufferers with healthcare innovators, groups might conduct affected person surveys to realize first-hand insights on their drawback of focus. Partnerships with a regulation agency and a startup firm that facilitated automated prior-art searches supplied groups free provisional patent submissions and understanding of the patent panorama, respectively.

Program analysis

On the program’s conclusion, we carried out a cross-sectional program analysis and survey of all matriculated individuals. We collected demographic data, participant tutorial background knowledge, schooling metrics, participant satisfaction and opinion knowledge, and staff achievement and consequence knowledge (Supplementary Be aware, Appendix F). Contributors’ pre- and post-program self-proficiency scores for academic goals have been collected on a five-point scale (1 = unfamiliar, 5 = can lead a staff on this activity) and analyzed utilizing paired, two-tailed t-tests in Microsoft Excel. A P worth of <0.01 was thought-about vital. This analysis was deemed a programmatic analysis by the Institutional Evaluate Board at Harvard College and didn’t require approval.