Hundreds of developers, designers, nurses, healthcare technicians and professionals, physicians, students, entrepreneurs, and the general public came together on March 1st, 2019 to participate in the third annual Health Hackathon at the Health Sciences Centre, Memorial University, to try and solve some of the pressing challenges in healthcare.
The event fostered a positive climate for inception and development of novel ideas unique to the healthcare sector.
The Hackathon was organized by Hacking Health St. John’s, which is one of the 53 active chapters of Hacking Health. Hacking Health is an international movement designed to improve healthcare by inviting technology creators and healthcare professionals to collaborate on realistic, human-centric solutions to front-line problems. More information on the organization can be found here.
The Health Hackathon was preceded by a year-round series of Health Cafes, which facilitated in developing ideas for the hackathon.
The hackathon spanned over three days to give teams ample time to develop working products and enough time to network with fellow professionals.
The hackathon commenced on the eve of March 1st, 2019 with a warm welcome from the organizers. Mike, the host for the evening, briefly ran through the format of the event and what the participants could expect to get out of this experience.
Soon after the orientation was complete, the pitchers for the evening were asked to present their idea to the audience. For this hackathon, there were eight pitchers who were looking to take their idea to the next step over this weekend. A vast array of ideas was tackled, such as patient no-show reduction, surround-sensing for wheelchair users, at-home chemotherapy, decreasing surgery wait time, medicine up-cycling, and more!
“Wheeler Tech” kicked off the pitches looking to develop proximity and edge detection sensor for visually impaired wheelchair users. For most wheelchair users who are visually impaired, getting around is quite difficult, which leaves most of them reliant on others for transportation. Using a series of mountable sensors, Wheeler Tech aims to give control back to the user and let technology be their eyes and ears.
A team of healthcare professionals from “Eastern Health” was looking to reduce the no-show rates of outpatient appointments. Eastern Health faces more than 96,000 missed appointments annually which translate to wasted opportunity for a lot of patients. To curb this problem, they proposed to develop an interactive communications tool over the weekend that will facilitate communication between patients and the staff and serve as a single point of contact for all appointment related queries.
“Pharmafind” was in next, seeking to up-cycle returned medications. Every year, thousands of kilograms of pills are returned to pharmacies who dispose of them. Most of those pills can be reused for new commercial and industrial purposes. Sorting those pills is a challenge. The team’s mission was to develop a prototype that would be able to identify and sort pills.
Next in was “Tabula Rasa” with their brilliant idea of reducing wait time for patients by matching supply with demand, followed by “Breaking Barriers” who were looking for ideas to make the health care system more accessible to those with multi-level barriers.
The next team aimed to tackle the problem of lack of private hospital rooms by providing in-home services to immuno-compromised individuals, reducing their treatment costs and providing a much safer environment for their recovery.
Last but not the least, PatientHR intended to tackle the problem of digitization of paper records and patient data visualization.
More information regarding the pitches can be found here.
Once all the pitches had concluded, participants were asked to network at the social mixer and form teams. Now that the teams were formed, it was time to start hacking!
The second day started with breakfast and all the teams got to work. As most of the ideas were still concepts and there was no product developed until then, most of the morning was spent in figuring out the problem statement for the idea and potential solutions to the problem.
By lunch, most of the teams had switched from ideation to creation. To re-energize the teams, The Indian Express food truck provided lunch catering. Now that all the times had their energy levels back to 100% and had some idea of what exactly they were trying to solve, they started developing their prototype.
At this stage, it would be important to mention that professionals from Allscripts, gold sponsors for the event, were present throughout the day to answer any questions related to using Allscripts developer API. Allscripts is an Open platform connecting all points of the care community. More information can be found here.
By the end of the day, most of the teams had some sort of solution ready. Dinner was served followed by some more time for product development and design refinement.
It is also noteworthy that the Bouncelab team mentored a lot of the teams and provided them with resources such as hardware, and working space. Bounce Health Innovation is a catalyst for accelerating the growth of Newfoundland and Labrador’s emerging health innovation sector. Click here for more information.
March 3rd, 2019 was the last and final day for the hackathon. Pitchers worked on refining their pitches for the final presentation whereas each team worked on finalizing the demo they would present to the panel of judges.
Genesis Centre, an innovation hub for technology start-ups, coached the teams on how to deliver a concise, effective pitch without going over the time limit. More info about their services can be found in the link here.
The much-awaited pitching round started soon after lunch with all the teams coming up to the stage and presenting what they had managed to accomplish over the course of the weekend. Each presentation was top-notch, addressing critical problems in the healthcare sector.
After much deliberation, the judges awarded first place to team Pharmafind and runners-up to team Wheeler Tech, each team also securing $3,000 and $2,000 respectively and free admission to Genesis Centre’s Evolution Program.
The event was a remarkable success and was attended by the likes of Dr. John Haggie, Provincial Health Minister, Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Ocean Supercluster, and Dave Diamond, CEO of Eastern Health.