athenahealth & Hacking Medicine team up for May hackathon!

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We are proud to announce a joint hack-a-thon between athenahealth and Hacking Medicine! The goal of this event is to bring together inventive, forward-thinking minds to change the status quo and create disruptive solutions in healthcare today. If you are an engineer, entrepreneur, physician, designer, or scientist, then come get involved to help drive the much-needed change in healthcare.

To participate, apply now through the following application, which can be found here. Bring your skills, your ideas, or both. We’re selecting 120 people just like you.

End the weekend with a team, cash prizes, and a hack on its first steps towards disrupting healthcare. Past teams at hack-a-thons just like this one have gone on to found companies, enter business plan competitions, and secure venture funding.

The hack-a-thon will take place over the weekend from May 3rd – 5th. The weekend will kick-off with a social event to meet the other attendees (and free apps!) at Mead Hall located in Kendall Square in Cambridge. The hack-a-thon will start on Saturday and will take place at athenahealth located at 400 North Beacon St in Watertown, MA. athenahealth is PAYING for attendees to take cabs to and from the event (if you are accepted, more details on this will follow).  In addition, athena is covering all food for the weekend too. Please see the agenda below for more details about the logistics for the event. Last but not least, the first place winner will have the chance to win $5K!

This hack-a-thon is part of athena’s “More Disruption Please” (MDP) innovation and partnership program that targets like-minded innovators, entrepreneurs, companies, investors, and individuals who share our vision of making health care work as it should through openness and connectivity of disruptive solutions. We know we can’t innovate everything on our own and look to find other disruptive technologies that advance our mission. Through MDP, athenahealth is making significant strides to open athenaNet to an increasing number of partners, and together, launch a massive surge of disruptive innovation in healthcare IT. To learn more about MDP and partnership opportunities, please visit | Twitter: @athenaMDP



Friday, May 3rd: Kickoff Social Event

Location: Mezzanine level of Meadhall; 4 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA

Time:  7 – 10 PM


Saturday, May 4th: Day 1 of Hack-a-thon

Location: athenahealth, 400 North Beacon St, Watertown Ma (athena will pay for cabs with a certain distance to and from their facilities. More details to follow if you are accepted)

9:00am – 10:30am                              Breakfast served, Opening Speakers

10:30am – 11:00am                            Idea Pitches

11:00am+ – 9PM                                  Break into teams and hack! (Lunch and Dinner will be served)


Sunday, May 5th: Day 2 of Hack-a-thon

Location: athenahealth, 400 North Beacon St, Watertown Ma (athena will pay for cabs with a certain distance to and from their facilities. More details to follow if you are accepted)

9:00am – 10:00am                              Breakfast served

10:00am – 10:30am                            Hacking resumes

5:30pm – 6:30pm                                Team pitches

6:30pm – 7:00pm                                Judging & Winners Announced!

Data Design Diabetes Challenge: Prove It!

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The next edition of their challenge has been announced!  You can read about it here:

Or you can read about it below… (the official post from the great folks from Luminary Labs is below)

The 2013 Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge – Prove It! is now open for submissions!The Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge will launch its third installation by joining forces with the Health Data Consortium (HDC) for this year’s challenge, Prove It!. Data Design Diabetes kicks off the HDC’s challenge series, Redesigning Data, and will ask innovators to create the evidence we need to make better decisions across the entire spectrum of diabetes.

Data Design Diabetes (DDD) asks innovators to submit Prove It! concepts that have the potential to create real change with real knowledge. The submission period is open from now until April 7, 2013, and entries must address the following:


  • EVIDENCE-BASED HEALTH OUTCOMES: Ability to demonstrate in an evidence-based way how the concept can improve the outcomes and/or experience of people living with diabetes in the US.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Ability to support one or more members of the healthcare ecosystem and provide them with data-driven tools or evidence-based insight that can help them make better contributions to staving the diabetes epidemic in the US.
  • DECISION-MAKING: Ability to illustrate how the concept can enable better data-driven decision-making at a particular stage across the spectrum of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, from lifestyle and environmental factors to diagnosis, treatment, maintenance, and beyond.
  • DATA SCIENCE: Utilize new or traditional data methodology — such as baseline knowledge models, evidence-based practice, and predictive analysis — to create a tool that may change the landscape of diabetes management through richer insight, more timely information, or better sets of decisions.

Finalists will be selected to advance to the next round to receive mentorship from industry experts, and present their concepts at the Health Datapalooza conference in Washington, DC. From the finalists, one winning team will be selected and awarded $100,000 to further develop its solution.

Do you have an idea for the next big innovation in diabetes care? This is your chance to be selected as a finalist to participate in a virtual incubator and innovators’ bootcamp in preparation for Demo Day at Health Datapalooza IV. Submit your concept before April 7, 2013!


Get the latest from the Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge.
Innovation Challenge Blog:

Presentation Guidelines

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Slide decks are due at 3:30PM to Presentations will begin in the 8th floor main room at 4:00PM.

Presentations will be 3 MINUTES and will be promptly cut off with a timer. Please rehearse so you can fit in this time, especially if you have a demo!

We are excited to be offering FIVE $1000 prizes for these categories:

  • Global Health
  • Overall Impact
  • Best Pitch
  • Most Improved
  • 1st Prize

Presentation Guidelines


  • What is the problem?
  • What solutions exist?
  • How is yours better?

Technical Details

  • What are the specifications?
  • Software – demo / Wetlab – details
  • What did you accomplish this weekend?

Next Steps

  • What will it take to reach a full demo?
  • Where do you see this going?

Meaningful Use of Complex Medical Data

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Another great event to look out for if you are on the west coast:

Announcing the 2nd Annual Symposium on Meaningful Use of Complex Medical Data (MUCMD)
August 10-12
Children’s Hospital LA, Los Angeles, CA
Twitter: @mucmd

Every day hospitals and clinics around the world collect data from tens of thousands of practical therapeutic experiments in electronic health care records (EHRs), and the collective experience recorded in this data has potential to revolutionize the delivery of care, drive new medical discoveries, improve patient outcomes, and optimize practices within large health care organizations.

The Meaningful Use of Complex Medical Data (MUCMD) symposium brings together a multidisciplinary community of researchers, clinicians, engineers, and other innovators to explore the opportunities and challenges involved in applying computational methods to this data. The program includes invited talks, peer-reviewed poster presentations, panels, break-out sessions, and ample time for thoughtful discussion and robust debate. Topics include privacy preserving storage architectures, machine learning for clinical data, real-time decision support, health behavior tracking, monetization, and turning clinical data into actionable information. Additionally, MUCMD will sponsor a hack-a-thon with real clinical from over 50,000 patient episodes and a data competition hosted by Kaggle.

MUCMD will be hosted at the Children’s Hospital LA campus in Los Angeles, August 10-12. Applications to attend and abstract submissions are now being accepted at  For additional information, send an email

HHS and ONC Launch a new reporting patient safety challenge

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Its great to see HHS and ONC diving in on this topic.  Strongly encourage everyone to start hacking and put in a submission for Aug 31st!

From the website:

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is proud to launch the Reporting Patient Safety Events Challenge, designed to spur development of platform-agnostic health IT tools to facilitate the reporting of medical errors in hospital and outpatient settings. This developer contest is part of ONC’s Investing in Innovation (i2) Initiative, which holds competitions to accelerate development and adoption of technology solutions that enhance quality and outcomes… read more

Open Mic Session with Dr. Joseph Kvedar, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health

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The next installment of our Open Mic Sessions features Dr. Joseph Kvedar from the Center of Connected Health and Partners HealthCare. See details below, and see you there!

The time is right to hack healthcare, but as entrepreneurs we often are setback because we can’t get to the people that are making the decisions in healthcare settings, government, and industry. To help fix this, Bob Higgins, Richard Foster, Jim Dougherty and Hacking Medicine have teamed up to bring you Dr. Joseph Kvedar, the Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health within Partners HealthCare. If you ever want to sell or partner with a hospital, Dr. Kvedar is the ideal person to speak to because he is the one who makes the decisions about which technologies to bring into their Center and how to commercialize them. He also is a Co-Founder of Healthrageous, a personalized health technology company, which is based on the technology platform developed at the Center. The goal of this event is to help connect entrepreneurs to the marketplace and give you open access to Dr. Kvedar and ask him those questions you can’t find the answer to on any website. Also we are going to select 3-5 student entrepreneurs to give their 60 second pitch at the end of the event and get direct feedback from Dr. Kvedar himself. If you would like to pitch, please answer a couple of quick questions here.


Date: Monday, May 14th
Time: 7 – 9PM
Location: Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, One Amherst Street, E40-160, Cambridge, MA


7:00 – 7:15 PM: Registration Opens (free pizza and drinks will be served)

7:15 – 7:30 PM: Student Idea Pitches

7:15 – 8:30 PM: Open mic session with Dr. Joseph Kvedar


To register for the event, please sign up here.

Retrospective: The Hacking Medicine Process

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We are very lucky to have a guest post today from Gabriel Belfort MD/PhD.  Here are some of his thoughts from the last Hacking Medicine – written when he was “in the moment”.  Enjoy.

As an M.D./Ph.D. who has tended toward the basic sciences I was initially nervous about the foreign worlds of engineering and business that seemed to be the core of Hacking Medicine (held at the MIT Media Lab on 2/25 and 2/26/2012).

When I arrived I had several ideas for problems in medicine, but I couldn’t have predicted how the forces which had initially made me nervous could provide such interesting and viable solutions.

The problem I posed was one of scheduling.

My wife works in a pediatrics clinic.  Due to a 40% “no show” rate and no penalty for not showing, my wife and her colleagues are forced to overbook their schedule so that they have enough patients who do show up to bill for.

This results in an unbalanced system which results in many days with far too many patients, rare days with the right number of patients, and still days when too few people show up.

My initial idea was to shift some of the financial burden of a “no show” to the insurance companies and the patients so that these parties are incentivised to get the patient to the clinic.

Enter Hacking Medicine.

After positing my problem I was approached with an entirely MIT solution:  Use machine learning trained on patient characteristics and prior no show rates to assign each patient a likelihood to show value between 0.1 and 1 (A full 1 is for steady person who always shows up).  Then each provider can be assigned a schedule that is more likely to add up to 20 patients actually showing.  So for a 1 you wouldn’t overbook their spot – they are going to be there.  For a 0.5 you would overbook a second 0.5 so that each slot adds up to 1.

On average this system promises to normalize Dr’s schedules and save money for the practice by filling wholes in the schedule and eliminating the tendency of patients to leave when they are frustrated by waiting too long for their doctor.

Creating such a system over such a short time frame has been really interesting.  It has been eye opening to have a team of MIT computer savvy undergraduates who are able to code these ideas into a prototype so quickly.  Along the same lines having MBA types envision a way to make this actually work as a company makes the whole exercise feel “not like an exercise”, but like starting a company.

More to come.  Another component we are adding is adding a “Doodle” form for rescheduling so that patients who previously said they could like an earlier appointment so that when such a slot opens up we only contact them if they could make it on that day.

Today is 2/26/2012.  I am very excited to get into the media lab and keep Hacking.  Thanks to all the participants and organizers.

Gabriel M. Belfort, M.D./Ph.D.

Link: Next Generation of Doctors Sees Gloomy Future (New York Times)

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Reuters reports today that young physicians today are relatively pessimistic about the future of health care delivery in the United States (via the New York Times). This article reports on a survey performed by nonprofit organization the Physicians Foundation, which cited in its report that the number one reason for pessimism among doctors (average age: 37) today is “new healthcare legislation,” with considerable cynicism towards “government involvement.” 49 percent believe the Affordable Care Act will have a negative impact on physician practice. Reasons tended to revolve around the economic “bottom line”:

“Large amounts of money are being spent on things outside of actual healthcare; CEO bonuses, pharmaceuticals, malpractice insurance premiums, lawyers, etc. This accompanied with the new ‘Customer Service’ initiatives that reward physicians who practice bad medicine is clouding the future of medicine.”

To me, this report illustrates these important points:

1. The delivery of health care in the United States has become extremely fragmented over time, leading to a total systemic breakdown. That physician’s quote above illustrates it all–there is too much money and power floating throughout the health care delivery system that do not revolve around the patient-physician relationship. System dynamics dictates that the more entities in a system, the more complexity. No wonder the health care system in the United States has proven so difficult to fix. The sheer level of complexity with the number of stakeholder groups (patients, physicians, payers, pharmaceuticals, the government, lawyers, need I go on?) and their interactions makes it extremely easy for communication failures to propagate and diverting attention away from what should be the core of health care delivery: the patient.

2. Hacking medicine successfully requires an understanding of these systemic interactions. Regardless of what aspect of health care you are trying to hack, whether its contributing to health and wellness or making costs more transparent; you must remember what stakeholder interactions you are trying to hack and how that contributes to the overall system of health care delivery. Health care delivery in this country will not change overnight by implementing new technologies and innovations, but incremental changes will eventually add up to a critical mass in which the health care industry must sit up and pay attention, less they be rendered irrelevant. Furthermore, once we hack certain interactions in the system, we must remember to expand our scope and determine what other factors have bearing on a person’s health: socioeconomic status? Distance to fresh produce? Methods of transportation? Public policies dictating what types of foods are available at your local supermarket or what types of medical services are available to you? What about farm subsidies; how do they influence health and wellness?

3. Hacking medicine may not necessarily involve technologies, but a total paradigm shift with regards to providers. What concerns me about the Physicians Foundation report is the attitude taken by young and upcoming physicians with regards to their profession. From reading the report, it appears to me that perhaps matriculating medical students may go into medical school with some expectations of what they expect to gain from medical school and come out with a cynical view of what it means to be a physician due to the systemic failure of health care delivery today. How can we as medicine hackers change the perspective of providers such that they feel inspired to practice medicine again, or is that not our concern? Whose responsibility should it be to get more providers optimistic about health care in this country? Without inspired providers, where does that leave us, the patients?

We have a long way to go and it may not be perfect, but I think we’re at the start of something truly amazing. Hopefully many of these questions that I’ve posed in this post will be answered as we continue to hack medicine.

Open Mic Session with Eric Buehrens, Chief Administrative Officer, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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We at Hacking Medicine are pleased to announce an open mic session with Eric Buehrens, Chief Administrative Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. See information below, and hope to see you there!

The time is right to hack healthcare, but as entrepreneurs we often are setback because we can’t get to the people that are making the decisions in healthcare settings, government, and industry. To help fix this, Bob Higgins, Richard Foster, Jim Dougherty and Hacking Medicine have teamed up to bring you Eric Buehrens, the former Chief Administrative Officer from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), one of the largest and most prestigious academic medical centers in the world. If you ever want to sell or partner with a hospital, Eric is the ideal person to speak to because he is the one who makes the decisions at the top. Prior to his current role, he served as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of BIDMC. The goal of this event is to help connect entrepreneurs to the marketplace and give you open access to Eric Buehrens and ask him those questions you can’t find the answer to on any website.  Also we are going to select 3-5 student entrepreneurs to give their 60 second pitch at the end of the event and get direct feedback from Eric Buehrens himself. If you would like to pitch, please answer a couple of quick questions here.

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 

7:00 – 9:00 PM

Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, One Amherst Street, E40-160, Cambridge, MA

Event Schedule:
·      7:00 – 7:15 PM: Registration Opens  (free pizza and drinks will be served)
·      7:15 – 7:30 PM: Student Idea Pitches
·      7:15 – 8:30 PM: Open mic session with Eric Buehrens

Event Schedule:
To register for the event, please sign up here

Advisory Board Members/Co-Sponsors
Bob Higgins, Harvard Business School
Richard Foster, Yale School of Management
Jim Dougherty, Sloan School of Management