Building for Digital Health: A Virtual Buildathon

Supported by Stanford Biodesign CardinalKit + Apple iOS + Google Cloud

Google Cloud
Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign

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CardinalKit was built by researchers at the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign to accelerate and transform digital health research worldwide. CardinalKit is an open-source framework that makes it easy for developers to build scalable and secure research applications. It uses Google Cloud (which supports compliance with HIPAA), along with Apple's ResearchKit, CareKit, and HealthKit/FHIR integration on iOS— to more easily deploy digital health research applications. Find out more about Google Cloud’s Healthcare API,  NLP API, Firebase including Firebase (ML), Data Protection Suite, and Google's open source differential privacy library.  By using CardinalKit as a starting point, developers can reduce the costs, complexity, and time required to launch new digital health research applications.

Works with Apple Health


Build your own digital health research application using the CardinalKit “sample application” as a starting point. During this hands-on event, the CardinalKit team, as well as Apple Health and Google Cloud engineers will be available to help you develop and customize your applications using Apple HealthKit, ResearchKit, and CareKit, and Google Cloud Platform services. This event is being offered in collaboration with the Stanford SHIFT student healthcare club. 


We welcome teams from all universities across the United States, including academic medical researchers, members of academic research center IT departments, physician digital health investigators, and representatives from pharmaceutical companies with digital health initiatives.

To participate, you should have basic experience programming for iOS and access to a Mac with Xcode 11.0 or later.


Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13, 2020 (times TBA)


This is a completely virtual event, and there is no cost to participate.


Register here and we’ll send you additional information to help you get started.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I prepare before the buildathon?

- Join our Discord server: Discord will be the main hub for event information, team formation, collaborating with your team, asking for help, etc..

- Sign up for a Queuestatus account: We’ll be administering office hours through Queuestatus. Head over to Queuestatus and create an account.

- Learn about Cardinalkit, get started & set up your environment: Join the CardinalKit workshop on September 2, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM PDT

- Download and set up Xcode for the workshop. Don’t worry if you missed the 9/2 workshop! You can follow the documentation on CardinalKit’s website at your own pace or review the recording (once it is available).

- Check out the “How will office hours work?” below to learn more.

- Come up with a project idea/need statement to work on with your Buildathon team or join an existing project as a team member!
You have several options:

1) Looking for team members and an idea: Go to the  Discord server and look for team members with similar interests in the disease category channels such as, “#pediatrics”.
2) Join a team with a pre-submitted idea: Look at the pre-submitted idea channels submitted by mentors. These start with “#team-”.
3) Simply submit your project idea and team list using Team Registration Form. For resources check out the Stanford Biodesign YouTube Channel to learn more about the 6 stages of Needs Finding and review this video about Need Statement development.


How will office hours work?  

We’ll be running office hours through Queuestatus, a site you’ll use to make tickets to ask questions and view your place in line. We’ll be using Google Meet as the video meeting platform.

You can best prepare for the Buildathon by registering for an account through the Queuestatus homepage.

We’ll have event organizers, CardinalKit team members, Google engineers, and Apple engineers available to help you via Queuestatus. There will be multiple queues, and each is specific to questions about a certain technology. You may (and are encouraged to) submit questions to the engineers before the start of office hours. We will send our further instructions about this closer to the start of the event.

When office hours begin, the queues will open. At any point during office hours, you may sign up in a queue. Please have only one team member sign up for only one queue at a time. Even though only one team member will sign up in the queue, multiple team members may join the Google Meet call.

When it is your turn to be helped, the engineer mentor will message you in the QueueStatus chat with the link to their Google Meet call. Please keep an eye on the queue and join the Google Meet call immediately after they message you to respect their time. If you do not respond, the engineer mentor will close your ticket and you will have to sign up in the queue again. The engineer mentor will spend about 10-15 minutes with you answering your questions.


How do I join a team?

All interactions with team members and organizers will take place on Discord. Head over to our Buildathon  Discord server Workspace now to explore areas of interest that you want to work on at the buildathon.  Please pick a team by Friday, 9/11, 10pm PDT, and let us know a few details of your team and the topic your team picked via this Team Registration Form.
We recommend team sizes between 2-6 people to remain functional and agile.


What is CardinalKit? Do I have to use it?

CardinalKit is an open-source framework that allows you to build, scale, and deploy digital health apps for iOS rapidly using Apple’s health-focused APIs (e.g. CareKit and ResearchKit) on the frontend and Google Cloud as the backend.

You are not required to use CardinalKit, but we’ll have CardinalKit-specific prizes at the end of the Buildathon. The Buildathon will start off with an extensive workshop on how to use CardinalKit, as well as office hours throughout the Buildathon specifically for CardinalKit technical questions. Find out more on our CardinalKit website.


Who owns the code that’s written for the Buildathon?

To keep things simple, and allow attendees to form teams easily, we’re requiring that all code developed and submitted is open source and under the MIT License.


Will I be able to socialize with other attendees?

Yes, the majority of your interaction with peers, including socializing will take place through our Discord.
Check out the  Participant Channels such as Lounge, Off-Topic and Networking.


Here are some additional resources to get you started:

Stanford Biodesign class
Apple CareKit
Apple ResearchKit
Apple Health and Apple FHIR resources
Google Cloud FHIR resources
Google Cloud Firebase and Firebase ML (beta)
Firebase Codelabs
Google Cloud Qwiklabs quests ( free) Google Cloud Covid-19 Datasets Here are two detailed solution guides Google Cloud recently published with Deloitte leveraging Data Protection Suite:
HIPAA-aligned AI/ML platform, GxP-aligned application development/hosting
Google Cloud Healthcare API Google Cloud also has a lightweight version for HIPAA as well that's in the form of a GCP Quickstart for people who care less about how our implementation maps to the security/compliance controls and just want to get up and running quickly. Here's GitHub Repo for the current version of the toolkit as well.

Questions? If you have any questions, please contact Oliver Aalami , Aditi Joshi, or  Brandon McCutcheon. We look forward to hosting you at our inaugural Cardinal Kit Buildathon!

Working Schedule


Before Event

Review of Xcode & GCP environment. (YouTube video)

Publicize idea pitching/ team building site

Friday, September 11
 2 pm – 9pm

Welcome address and Team Creation

  • Digital Health Industry Overview
  • Introduction to Stanford Biodesign CardinalKit
  • Front End/Backend Technology Review

Opening Keynote

Workshop Session 1

Saturday, September 12
9 am – 6 pm

Workshop Session 2

Apple Workshop

Google Workshop

Work Time + Office Hours

Sunday, September 13
9 am – 5 pm

Office Hours + Work Time

App Submission


Closing Keynote


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Helpful Links