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Stories & Snapshots

April Fools 2020

Did you miss our homepage on April 1? Read our April Fools' Day posts below

Federal Election Officials Tap MyChart for Online Voting Platform

‘MyVote’ is key component of bi-partisan stimulus bill

Epic is in final negotiations to make MyChart the official voting platform of the United States for 2020, and possibly further into the future. Modernization of the country’s polling infrastructure has been a topic of bipartisan agreement for several years. In the context of the current COVID-19 crisis, the need for a secure online alternative to in-person voting has become acute and the process accelerated.

The secure system uses sophisticated analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to identify and prevent voter fraud. Though many have advocated for a completely separate system, MyChart delivers a “head start” in several areas, providing a vetted technical infrastructure for privacy and voter identity. It doesn’t hurt that 165 million Americans already have a MyChart login, a good number more than the 138 million who voted in 2016. Voters who don’t have a MyChart account can get one for free at MyChart.com any time before election day, Tuesday, November 3.

The Trump administration’s legal team is wrapping up research on the constitutionality of the modernization effort, following which a signed Presidential Order is expected.

MyChart Adds Social Distance Alarms

Phones will vibrate within 6 feet of each other

Epic updated the MyChart patient portal today with two social distancing features to help remind users of optimal spacing.

Any time two users come within 6 feet of each other (guided by a combination of GPS and Bluetooth triangulation) the app automatically sends a push notification to both phones and emits a pleasantly-alarming tone until the users have moved a safe distance apart. MyChart will also warn the user as more people gather in the same room, gradually ramping up the intensity of vibration and audio notifications as additional individuals enter.

At a certain threshold, thanks to an integration with Spotify, all of the congregated users’ phones will play “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place” by the Animals at maximum volume, until the crowd disperses.

Epic Developers Offer Perspective on Social Distancing

While the term “social distancing” has quickly become a household phrase, many have found it can be hard to cope with the sudden lack of human contact. However, there’s one group that says this is business as usual for them. Most software developers at Wisconsin-based tech company Epic embraced these guidelines long before the COVID-19 pandemic and report noticing no real difference in their day-to-day lives.

Tom Coderson, one of a handful of Epic developers who emailed their thoughts to us on the efficacy of keeping a distance wrote, “I’m good at this. As a programmer I’ve been practicing social distancing since the 7th grade.” He goes on to say how the guidelines are affecting him. “When I walk down the hallway, I always walk as close to the wall as possible so I’m never close to people anyway. We don’t say anything when we pass each other in the hall, so that’s no different either.”

These sentiments were shared by Marco Ramirez, a recent NYU college grad now working at Epic, “Hanging out with people has actually gotten more comfortable in the last few weeks,” he answered when asked about how the distancing protocols have impacted his social life. “The 6-ft thing is a good reminder for me to approach people at a closer proximity than I what I might default to normally. It’s about personal growth.”

Coderson says he has made some new friends in the process. “We’ve started doing Netflix parties where we watch movies together, but from our own houses, you know. It’s great because nobody touches my popcorn and I don’t have to tell my buddy to be quiet every 10 minutes.”

Martin Stirling, development lead at Epic, says he’s getting more work done than ever. “Epic is set up to maximize productivity. We have our own offices so I can keep my door closed and really focus when I need to. But there was always a chance that someone stop me in the hallway and want to interact face to face. That isn’t a risk anymore. These last few weeks have been glorious.”

Some experts speculate these natural tendencies are the reason why software developers remain one of the healthiest groups of people according to data. Though Ramirez summed it up like this, “I don’t call it social distancing, I call it living my best life.”

Kids Learn to Code

Responding to the many school closures in and around the Madison area, Epic stepped in to provide a 2-week short course in programming for kids stuck at home. While Epic is widely known as a place where bright-eyed millennials can make their mark right out of college, the launch of Kids Code seeks to open the company’s doors to an even younger generation.

“Kids are just like everybody else. They want to have an impact with what they do,” said Cheryl Palmer, proud mother of three, over a Zoom connection. “As long as it’s interesting kids can pick up math, logic, and problem-solving a lot faster than everyone thinks.”

Each Kids Code participant received a scaled-down version of Epic’s data structures and function call training. Published projects include a fun MyChart game that incentivizes healthy habits and an AI algorithm that cross references patient DNA attributes on a 9-axis hyper-cube via virtual-coefficient linking.

This win-win scenario is not without its hiccups of course. For example, some young coders are able to work only 2 hours a day, given the “screen time” policies of their parents.

Early indications suggest that development can now be completed at a fraction of the cost.

Read all our April Fools’ Day posts, past and present, in the archive.