A mobile app that guides sonographers towards ideal ultrasound probe positioning , and an easy-to-install device that enhances safety for the predominantly women passengers of motorcycles in low and middle-income countries . These were just some of the innovative solutions that surfaced from the Grand Hack health hackathon, where participants worked on healthcare challenges within one of four tracks: global health, primary care, telehealth enabled care pathways, and wearables.
Organized by MIT Hacking Medicine from April 24th to 26th at the MIT Media Lab, the Grand Hack teams had just under 48 hours to pitch healthcare problems, form groups, prototype a solution, and develop a business model, before presenting their ideas to judges. Up for grabs were not only cash prizes that totalled more than $13,000, but also awards for teams to develop their ideas into startups through incubation and mentorship opportunities.
“With the collision of health, high tech, and value-based care, there really is no better time to create a healthcare start-up,” said Zen Chu, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and one of the founders of MIT Hacking Medicine. “We’re excited to see teams from this weekend develop and launch their solutions.”
The weekend hackathon saw a turnout of over 450 participants from 19 states and eight countries – including participants from Canada, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Taiwan, Uganda, and Qatar – for a total of 80 teams across the four tracks. Now in its second year, the Grand Hack is MIT Hacking Medicine’s flagship event to innovate in healthcare by bringing the entire spectrum of healthcare stakeholders together in a hackathon.
“We were so excited to see the diversity of clinicians, engineers, developers, and designers, because we find that the best healthcare solutions come from the most diverse teams,” said Priya Garg, MIT mechanical engineering senior and MIT Hacking Medicine co-director. “A great example is the first prize winner of the Wearables track – Pillar, an oral contraceptive dispenser built into a smart bracelet that increased users’ medication adherence. The team consisted of a chemical biological engineer, a computer scientist, a management consultant, and an industrial designer.”
Health hackathons are being used by an increasingly wide range of organizations to solve tough healthcare problems and understand future business opportunities. Track sponsors for the Grand Hack include Massachusetts General Hospital’s Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech), GE Healthcare, Microsoft, and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Lina Colucci, MIT Hacking Medicine’s other co-director and a PhD student in the MIT-Harvard Health Sciences and Technology program, said: “All of us have a stake in what the future of healthcare looks like because all of us will interface with the healthcare system at some point in our lives. Health hackathons like the Grand Hack bring diverse stakeholders under one roof and allow them to create that future together.”
For more information, please refer to Annexes A, B and C.
 Infinity Ultrasound, winner of the GE Ultrasound Grand Prize.
 Nyweza, winner of the CAMTech Global Health track first prize.
About MIT Hacking Medicine
The mission of MIT Hacking Medicine (MIT HackMed) is to energize the health ecosystem to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges by connecting the best and most diverse minds. Since holding the first ever health hackathon in 2010, the MIT student group has organized 37 health hackathons with more than 30 national and international organizations. More than 10 healthcare start-ups have emerged from MIT HackMed’s health hackathons. For more information, visit hackingmedicine.mit.edu.
shirlene [at] mit [dot] edu