ArthritisHack Challenges Innovators to Crack New Health Solutions

A weekend-long hackathon in Toronto is looking to turn out innovative solutions that will ease the pain of those living with arthritis.

ArthritisHack, held at the MaRS Discovery DIstrict in Toronto, will challenge programmers, designers, policy analysts, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals and people living with the disease to collaborate on developing solutions that will make living with Arthritis a little bit easier.

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions in Canada with roughly five million Canadians currently living with the debilitating disease. However, Ahmad Zbib, the executive director of the Ontario division of the Arthritis Society, said that Arthritis isn’t as well understood as other conditions.

“People living with Arthritis have chronic joint pain, stiffness, swelling and fatigue… That in itself causes challenges to daily life and these needs are often unmet,” Zbib said. “Many people with Arthritis will receive treatment, but if they do, often times the endpoint for clinical providers is different than expectations of the patient.”

Zbib, a non-practicing doctor, said while a physician’s job may be treating a patient to reduce inflammation, what someone living with Rheumatoid Arthritis really wants is a pain-free life. That creates a gap Zbib hopes the ArthritisHack will help bridge.

“We’ve been trying traditional methods… But we need to look at new ways to crowdsource intelligence to tackle certain problems that people with Arthritis suffer from,” said Zbib. “Other diseases have a death sentence. In the case of Arthritis, it is a life sentence.”

The hackathon isn’t exclusive to assistive devices or medtech solutions. Zbib explained that people with Arthritis struggle with communication, mental health and adaption their workplace to suit their needs.

Teams will present their ideas to a panel of medical, tech and health policy experts, as well as people living with Arthritis. There are three cash prizes up to $5,000 each up for grabs.

While ArthritisHack may not produce a major breakthrough, the top-ranked teams can develop their idea into a real-world solution by tapping into mentorship from the Arthritis Society team and global pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.

From Oct. 13 to 15, the ArthritisHack is a collaboration by the Arthritis Society, Hacking Health, and Eli Lilly Canada. Those interested in participating can still register online now.