Hacking Health is an annual conference that pairs technological innovators with healthcare experts to build realistic, human-centric solutions to front-line healthcare problems. The event allows groups and individuals to pitch innovative ideas to Executive leadership who could assist in incubating the projects. To find out more and if it’s coming to your city, go to hackinghealth.ca. This year it was held at the Mars Building in Toronto on Nov 8-10, 2013.
How it Works
On Friday night, Healthcare professionals pitch their issues first to the design and developer crowd to garner support and team members. The designers and developers then choose which project to volunteer their time on. The hacking happens throughout Saturday and Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, the solution is presented to a panel of executive judges who have contributed awards/prizes to the event. The rest of the time is pure networking.
Energized by Clever Design Thinking
Inspired by Peter Smart who ran a site called 50problems50days.com I wanted to leverage my design thinking skills to assist as many groups as possible with their various issues. It challenged me to think outside of the proverbial box and consider the impact I can make on society, one stepping stone at a time. As a Web Designer, it’s very difficult to showcase my value on a societal level. Attending this event gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment, especially because in healthcare every little bit helps.
For you designers out there who are reading this, I chose to volunteer my time in this event not for another valuable portfolio piece (I’m beyond that in my experience level), but because I truly believe that improvements in Healthcare (as an alternative to Defense) can help push the envelope in future innovation. We can finally move towards more efficient and innovative systems. Here in Canada, many aspects within this vertical are archaic compared to the rest of the world. Here we have a chance to catch up without being caught in the mesh of bureaucracy. I don’t see it as spec work, it was more of a valuable karmic experience.
What types of Projects were being Pitched?
Here are a small sampling of some projects that came out of the event:
- Wearable Technology fights Nicotine Addiction: By using a wearable sensor to recognize and classify smoking events, then showing smokers how much nicotine is left in their systems on a graph… Then gamifying/reinforcing positive behaviour.
- PatientFlow – An Automated Patient Management Tool: Automates the waiting room process by providing a dashboard both for the healthcare clinic to moderate the intake of patients. The patients also get insight on how busy it can be and choose a more appropriate clinic based on a separate dashboard about wait times.
- Project Porphyry: Using affordable 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies to build lower-limb prosthetics faster.
For a full listing, you can visit Sparkboard at: http://hh-toronto.sparkboard.com/projects
My Role in the Event
After the initial pitches, I was stunned with decision paralysis. I wanted to be a part of so many groups but did not want to miss out on what others were doing so at first I went around helping out as many as I could as part of the Hacking Health Design team. On Saturday afternoon I was adopted into Group#1, the Blu Button project. They needed a lot of guidance on how to visualize the interface for the web app concept. It helped me flex my design and UX skills. It made me also very aware of my competencies and my ability to see projects from the bigger picture.
The award winning Blu+ App
The Blu+ App utilizes the Blue Button+ API that can access personal health records and create a modern digital dashboard of health records including upcoming appointments, immunizations, and extensions to track diet and fitness for the average populace to be more aware and active in their own health. This proactive awareness has been proven to increase your lifespan by 5-6 years and reduce the number of medical visits annually. Additionally, your healthcare team is fully aware of your progress and the care you have completed to date in your life.
I’m honoured to have been a part of this Team with: Hadi Salah, Mustafa Kurdi, Timothy Sun, Lester Sy, Ian Gerald King, Alex Lee, Rahim Dhanani, Vejay Karthic Gandier
View the Award Winning Project
There were so many great projects and moments that came out of it that I was left with a sense of accomplishment many new friends. It was a great precursor to World Entrepreneur Week and I would definitely do it again.