MAY 28, 2020 — Many patients had to wait for lifesaving surgeries, such as organ transplants, due to the heavy burden COVID-19 caused for hospitals. Now, UTSA computer science seniors have built a software program that assists doctors in prioritizing medical procedures and treat people more efficiently.
The program, called ESCal, can organize almost three months of surgeries in a few minutes by simply working within a hospital’s existing system.
“For the past nine months we were working on another project for Amita Shah at UT Health San Antonio, but once the outbreak struck, we had to pivot,” said Mark Robinson, an assistant professor in practice in UTSA’s Department of Computer Science.
“The challenge we had was to build a surgery-scheduling application where Dr. Shah and her team could store information about postponed elective surgeries,” Robinson said. “The hospital’s existing software created lots of problems during the pandemic.”
The team delivered a computer program that permitted a physician to retrieve a list of surgeries scheduled for the next two months in less than five minutes. This is a huge time-saving measure. As businesses ease restrictions, many patients are eager to reschedule elective operations that were postponed.
As of May 1, approximately 20 states across the country had resumed some elective surgeries, with only a few more planning to do so later in the month. It’s expected that hospitals will face looming bottlenecks and patients who need procedures such as tumor removals will experience long waits.
“We had months [of appointments] already scheduled. As all this was happening we realized that, when this is over, we would have to reschedule everybody,” said Shah. “But not everybody’s condition is of the same acuity, and with hundreds of surgeries being canceled and needing to be rescheduled, we needed a way to triage things when we start operating again.”
In less than six weeks the UTSA students were able build the software program, which allows Shah to fetch a list of cases. The program relies on surgery information, such as date of surgery, urgency, authorization to perform surgery, patient readiness, cancelations or other criteria. The retrieved data is then reported on a spreadsheet prioritizing current or upcoming procedures for the week.
The system also complies with the hospital’s strict security standards and integrates seamlessly with its security infrastructure. This allows patients to obtain speedier care as physicians spend more face-to-face time with patients—and less time struggling with their software.
Since May 4 the new software has already been deployed and rescheduled 50 surgeries. There are plans to make use of this program for the entire surgery department, which typically has 250 to 300 surgeries scheduled per day.
“Students don’t always have these real-life and critical problems to solve,” Shah said. “But what they are doing really matters, and they are doing it very fast. I’m impressed with how they’ve come together to help us out. This is very, very valuable and a huge help for our practice.”
Besides the transfer of academic knowledge to solve grand challenges, projects such as these provide tremendous real-world experience for students as well as considerable value to their résumés.
In the meantime, Shah is onboarding other surgery departments within UT Health to adopt the software.
The UTSA students who collaborated on this software program are Jaime Messinger, Andrew Noe, Sam Carey and Tyler Mitchell.
“Now we can say that we contributed to the COVID recovery effort,” said Robinson. “We are also ready, should a second COVID wave occur.”
UTSA Main Campus will serve as a designated polling station during the early voting period, today through October 30, and on Election Day, November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104)
The First Generation and Transfer Student Center (FGTSC), Transfer and Transition Student Success Services (T2S3), and Alamo Runners invite you to join the virtual fun as we celebrate National Transfer Student Week. UTSA is enriched by transfer students who bring their diverse experiences, backgrounds, and assets to our campus. National Transfer Student Week seeks to celebrate, empower, and support transfer students with events and workshops specifically designed for transfers.Virtual Event
Join Student Health Services as we discuss Intellectual Wellbeing with TRC - Academic Success Coaching.Virtual Event
Are you missing our Roost Tournaments? We will be having our UFC 3 tournament and our tournaments are now back to Wednesdays! Sign up and show us your skills. See if you have what it takes to be our champion.Virtual Event
Dr. Mo. Jamshidi is an Endowed chaired professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He is a Persian Native, born in Shiraz, Iran in 1944. He was an advisor to NASA for 10 years (including with the first MARS Mission and seven years with NASA Headquarters (Washington, DC), among other organizations. He has over 800 technical publications including 74 books in English and 5 foreign languages. For the past 20 years, he has been collecting data on Persian Scientists and Poets from 1000 BC to 2021 AD. This presentation will be about the book written by Dr. Jamshidi that collects information on Persian scientists and poets.Virtual Event
Join this informative, interactive webinar with practical tips on how to plan your charitable giving now and for the future. Michael Perkins, member of the UTSA Alumni Association and the UTSA College of Business Accounting Advisory Board, is no stranger to gift planning. As managing partner and CEO of Slattery Perkins Ramirez P.C. (“SPR”) his primary areas of focus include counseling business owners, executives, and other high net worth individuals on personal financial issues, including estate planning, wealth transfer, and income tax planning techniques. Michael also practices philanthropy himself – establishing an endowed scholarship at UTSA as well as supporting numerous charitable causes throughout San Antonio.Virtual Event
UTSA Main Campus is a voting poll for Election Day on November 3.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.