Combating COVID-19 with the Open Source Volunteers Extended Project

 

When the coronavirus pandemic began surging in February 2020, volunteers around the world sprang into action to do whatever they could to help. 

As an example, Gillian Berry — the founder of PerCen Technologies — was an early member of Open Source Ventilator Ireland. She also co-founded Open Source Volunteers Extended (OSVX), the non-ventilator arm of the project.

In a recent episode of the Lab to Launch podcast, Qualio CEO Robert Fenton sat down with Gillian to talk about her experience running an open source project, what her company PerCen Technologies is all about, and advice for people who plan on running open source projects in the future.

Running an open source project

Within a week of joining the Open Source Ventilator group, Gillian, who had 15-plus years of cardiac experience, needed to decide whether it made sense to stick with the project or invest her talents elsewhere. 

Since the team had ventilators under control, Gillian decided to help bolster other areas of need by starting the OSVX project, which consisted of 1,500 people, 400 working more or less continuously.

“The people were fantastic,” Gillain explains. “The power of the people and the community in Ireland was absolutely amazing.”

OSVX — which focused on things like PPE, contact tracing, and COVID-19 education — was Gillian’s first time at the helm of an open source project. Suffice it to say she learned a thing or two during the experience.

“It’s opened my eyes to the capabilities I have,” Gillian says. “But I’m not a business person. That’s my only downfall.”

Gillian hopes the story of OSVX will inspire future open source projects moving forward. “I think there will be more open source projects like this, which is really exciting,” she continues.

Putting people first with PerCen Technologies

PerCen Technologies is a person-centered healthcare company that seeks to improve healthcare delivery to each patient. Currently, the company is focused on improving the way patients are weighed in hospital settings.

While healthcare staff can get most patients’ weights by asking them to step on a scale, how do you weigh those who have suffered strokes, burn victims, and patients who are otherwise immobile?

“There are other methods available, like weighing the bed,” Gillian says. “But that technology isn’t readily available.”

In the meantime, Gillian hopes to deliver a solution that works for all patients, even the edge cases.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about: 

  • What it was like to work with the OSVX and the kinds of people who got involved
  • Lessons learned from running an open source project
  • How Qualio helped the OSVX
  • Gillian’s advice for running an open source project
  • And more!

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