Hacking for Health: A Weekend of Designing Better Healthcare

This past weekend an energetic and highly motivated collection of healthcare professionals, developers and designers descended on the Centre for Digital Media to spend 48 hours hacking for health.

Hacking Health is a national organization dedicated to fostering collaboration between health and IT experts. Following two previously successful events in Montreal and Toronto, they teamed up with Vancouver’s Sanotron, which is Canada’s first technology accelerator focused entirely on digital healthcare solutions, to host a difference making weekend.

There’s no arguing Sanotron CEO Michael Bidu’s position that “Canada’s health care industry is not keeping up with the needs and expectations of Canadians. The status quo is unsustainable.”

“We need to find ways of engaging Canadians to take a more active role in managing their health, wellness and fitness and to provide them with access to information and tools to make our healthcare more effective and efficient,” he added.

The organizers originally felt 150 registrants would equal a successful weekend. The collective enthusiasm was overwhelming with 400 people signing up to participate. Friday night saw more than 50 ideas pitched. By Sunday afternoon 23 teams presented their projects to the judges and a full house of supporters.

It was impressive to see how many teams had functioning prototypes to share. But keeping in the context of a weekend hackathon, most of ideas were essentially minimally viable projects, and the majority were a fair distance from having a potential market fit.

Given the overall gravity, and importance of finding cures for our ailing healthcare system, it’s almost unfair to pick winners out of this event. But the judges did identify three teams who really stood out. No doubt each one will be subject to a name change and re-branding in the days ahead. The top three all focused on improving an inefficient and flawed process, while significantly improving communications between patient and different healthcare stakeholders.

3. VitalClik: Post discharge monitoring app that will drastically cut down hospital readmissions.

2. HealthCan: This app will better coordinate the communication of appointments.

1. eBeeper: Is a requisition app for improving Doctor workflow, by expediting lab test results or X-rays and making the ER more efficient.

There’s no question Sanotron will be organizing another one of these events. With the overarching theme of “community, collaboration, and convergence,” there should be no doubting the positive impact a Hacking for Health weekend will have on the future of healthcare.