Reflections from the Global Health Track of the Grand Hack!

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Developing solutions for global issues is difficult without cultural
context. The Grand Hack gave our team a chance to understand the
cultures we were designing for by bringing people with experiences and
expertise from all over the world, together. Our team’s goal was driven
by Lydia Asiimwe’s story and her near death experience from falling off a
Ugandan motorcycle taxi (boda-boda).

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We took a user-centric design approach and started by trying to
understand everything we could about the people, environment,
transportation history, and the culture surrounding Uganda by
interviewing Lydia about her experience. This framework allowed us to
derive the following concept drivers: (1) women in Uganda are required
to sit side saddle as it is deemed inappropriate otherwise (2) they wear
long dresses with material that makes it very easy to slide off the
motorcycle with the slightest bump (3) When you are carrying anything,
you exponentially increase your chance of injury because you have to
hold on with one hand, or you are crowding the available space on the
motorcycle, decreasing the control the driver has. Our goal became “how
do we prevent injury and trauma for women who have to sit side straddle
on a boda-bodas in rural Uganda”.

image

Next, we started to dive deeper into the culture of the people as well
as that of boda-bodas to understand how we could approach solving the
problem. We moved from designing something that people could carry
around, approaches for manufacturers to make motorcycles safer, and
eventually decided that an accessory to current boda-bodas would be the
most sustainable and adoptable approach.

image

After understanding what type of materials and manufacturing techniques
were available in Uganda, we started to sketch and prototype around many
different ideas. We landed on the L shaped brace that attaches to the
sister bar (a common part on most motorcycles) that gives the side
saddle user comfort, storage space, and safety during their ride. This
same brace can also rotate into a second “mode” that allows for extra
storage space when there isn’t someone sitting side saddle.

image

The greatest success of our team is its diversity and experience. We are
composed of an Industrial Designer (Ayan Bhandari) Who brought
Ximedica’s user-centric design approach, a Biomedical Engineer (Blesson
John) who works in Global Health, a public health specialist (Anu
Mather) that has worked with implementing programs in different
cultures, and a user (Lydia Asiimwe) who has experienced every detail of
the problem we were trying to solve. We believe that “Good design is not about what you can do, it’s about what you should do”
and we continue to work on Nyweza (Ugandan for “hold on tight”) to
create a prototype that we can get onto boda-bodas in Uganda in the near
future.

image

Health Hackathon Winners Provide A Window Into The Future Of Healthcare

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A mobile app that guides sonographers towards ideal ultrasound probe positioning [1], and an easy-to-install device that enhances safety for the predominantly women passengers of motorcycles in low and middle-income countries [2]. 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.

[1] Infinity Ultrasound, winner of the GE Ultrasound Grand Prize.

[2] Nyweza, winner of the CAMTech Global Health track first prize.

Related Resources

Annex A: Factsheet on winning teams
Annex B: Factsheet on the Grand Hack tracks
Annex C: Quotes From and Information on Gold sponsors

 

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.

 

Media Contact

Shirlene Liew
shirlene [at] mit [dot] edu

Health Hackathon Winners Provide A Window Into The Future Of Healthcare

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A mobile app that guides sonographers towards ideal ultrasound probe positioning [1],
and an easy-to-install device that enhances safety for the
predominantly women passengers of motorcycles in low and middle-income
countries [2].
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.

[1] Infinity Ultrasound, winner of the GE Ultrasound Grand Prize.

[2] Nyweza, winner of the CAMTech Global Health track first prize.

Related Resources

Annex A: Factsheet on winning teams
Annex B: Factsheet on the Grand Hack tracks
Annex C: Quotes From and Information on Gold sponsors

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.

Regina wants your help to make doors more disability-friendly. What will you build this weekend?

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Diagnosed with four different cancers and a brain cyst since 2001, Regina Pontes says she’s lucky.
One cancer was discovered when Pontes, a singer, noted hoarseness in her voice. Another was revealed following a routine mammogram, which had worried doctors calling Pontes back in for more tests.
“I told them, “˜Now I know how Cindy Crawford feels,'” Pontes said. “Everyone always wants to take her picture.
Pontes’s upbeat attitude was tested following the removal of a large number of lymph nodes from her right side and ensuing severe bouts of cellulitis, which nearly forced the amputation of her right arm. Skin burns from the radiation kept her out of work longer than planned.
Not only that, but a brain tumor re-diagnosed as a cyst during surgery exploded, causing spinal fluid leaks and meningitis that nearly killed Pontes “” and a stroke in August 2011 left her in a wheelchair, without the use of her left hand.

Regina Pontes (here) is an amazing woman and has asked Grand Hack participants to hear her pitch on what she’d like you all to build this weekend… think “Open Sesame!” Check out Regina’s presentation and videos below to learn more why people with disabilities need doorways that are engineered better.

Regina has kindly volunteered her phone number for anyone who wants to call her this weekend and learn more about the challenges she faces.

(Talk to Lina from the MIT HackMed team this weekend to learn more.)

What will you build this weekend?

#GrandHack

Check out Regina’s presentation: Open Sesame!

Part 1 of the video:

 

Part 2 of the video:

 

(Photo from http://www.hertssecurity.com/automatic-door-openers/) 

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Hacking Medicine to Fix Healthcare (Part 1)
 

Real Business visited the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to
learn about healthcare hackathons. In the two-day event, students worked
with clinicians, designers, and entrepreneurs to solve existing
problems in the healthcare industry. Watch the video to find out how
healthcare hackathons are pushing innovation forward by bringing
together the brightest minds in the field. Stay tuned for part 2 of this
video series.

Participant Perspectives on the Samsung-MGH Mobile Health Hackathon

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The Innovation Challenge by Samsung Electronics, Co. Ltd. in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT Hacking Medicine on November 7th and 8th, 2014 was a resounding success!  Check out reflections by two of our participants:


               Innovations in healthcare will define our society in this century. And events like hackathons play a critical role in enabling that future. As a first time hacker, it was overwhelming to see so much creativity and drive to induce a change, to make an impact, to innovate. From 100 scattered individuals to 25 actionable ideas in under 30 hours – that is amazing. It speaks volumes about what a band of multi-disciplined minds can achieve when they act in unison to address a specific pain-point. 

                Having worked in a corporate research lab for five years, I know first hand how challenging it can be to bring people to agree to a problem, let alone innovate a solution. I have seen three barriers to group creativity: (a) Individuals who are inherently protective of their ideas, married to their philosophies and threatened by change, (b) Executive management that incentivizes behavior to confirm to a system, does not promote bottom-up creativity but rewards top-down restructuring, and (c) Organization culture that is dedicated to speed of execution, to reduce their time-to-market, at the cost of innovation. At the hackathon, we had none of these. 

                The individuals that came to the hackathon were determined to make a difference. Not everyone that got selected had a problem to pitch – that was a fantastic design. Because when only 25 individuals pitched a problem, 75 others were listening intently. So we banded together. Who would have thought that a diverse group of software programmers, clinicians, user experience strategist and an engineer post-doc would win two awards in the same night. But we did! What brought us together was the problem statement, a concurred vision that was worth fighting for, and a belief that it would have significant impact for the hospital. Before we split on the first night, we named our team, shared our contact info and set out a gameplan for the next day.

                The day of the hackathon was electric – from start to finish. Our first step was to assess whether our senior executives i.e. mentors would align with us or would they rather steer us in a different direction. To our surprise, they jumped on us (in a good way!). Five minutes into the conversation, they reaffirmed how real the problem was and the ramifications it would have if solved. We were talking analogies and extrapolating into the future. Those fifteen minutes energized us for the remainder of the day – just the kind of management we desire to stay motivated, focused and creative. We still had a long day ahead of us and I can summarize our activities into four phases: (1) Group huddle to spend “a day in the life of Anne”. (2) Break group into two: strategic and technical (3) Regroup to discuss technical solution and check whether it aligned with the user groups (3) Solicit feedback from technical and pitch mentors (4) Build, Build, Build – Build a demo, Build a business model, Build a pitch.

                I remember at the start of the day I was kind of worried whether we were too big a team (8 members). In retrospect, we could not have done without each of them. And we improvised and adapted very quickly as the day progressed. The round-table format was not working for us to discuss and understand the needs and requirements of our target user – too many distractions (laptops, cellphones) and not enough proximity. So we left our tables, our gadgets, took our pens, notepads, poster-its, and went to the wall and floor. We huddled together on our knees with our heads down and that helped us cut out the rest of the room. Every now and then, one or two of us would take a walk – just to collect our thoughts. We broke into smaller groups to discuss/achieve specific tasks separately and regrouped to piece together our perspectives and solution as a whole. We signed up for the practice pitch early on – one of the best decisions we made. We absolutely failed at the pitch practice session. It was an eye opener, to say the least. We understood immediately that we had to get our message out in a clear, brief and complete fashion – all within 3 minutes. So we scripted it – word by word, line by line, and timed it until we got it right. Like I said, it was electric!

                It’s been four days since the event, and we are still reeling from the adrenalin rush. But this is just the beginning. As I sit back, there’s one overriding thought that I have: why isn’t everyone already doing this? Every organization needs this: our schools, our hospitals, our corporates, and academic research centers (even more so, I would say). So to the MIT Hackathon Organizing Team, I say: KUDOS, for being such a wonderful catalyst. I am told that this particular event was organized in just under 18 days. Congratulations! Keep doing it, over and over again. Do not turn down anyone who comes to you asking for help. Do not stop, ever. To the Hackers, I say: BRAVO, what an idea! Now go out there and build it. We will see you in Round 2.

Gautam Goel, Postdoctoral Associate at MGH Center for Computational & Integrative Biology 


               I believe there are two things that make innovation and entrepreneurship potentially difficult for physicians. The first is experience. For better or worse, in many ways medical training is antithetical to start up culture. Overcoming this inherent structure can be difficult. The other is access to talent. As physicians, we spend the vast majority of our time within the healthcare framework with other medical professionals. But healthcare technology innovation and its successful commercialization requires a confluence of engineering, business and medical expertise. For those with the inclination, MIT Hacking Medicine provides a very efficient venue to explore innovation with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds. Participating in the MIT Hacking Medicine Hackathon at MGH in collaboration with Samsung revealed how powerful the right setting can be in facilitating the innovation process. The conversations, thought experiments and prototyping that took place at this event were truly unique and valuable experiences. It is hard to imagine a more fertile ground for finding talented people or cultivating innovative ideas over such a short period of time. I highly recommend MIT Hacking Medicine hackathon for those interested in healthcare innovation. 

Raymond Hwang, M.D., M.Eng, MBA