From May 19 to May 21, the University Medical Center Groningen will be one of five Dutch hospitals hosting a 52 hour hackathon. Teams will work around the clock to come up with a cool pitch, concept and prototype, dazzle the local judges and compete on a national scale. Interested in signing up? Check out the website. Gotta be quick though, because half the spots are already filled.
Healthcare is not the same as it was 50 years ago, for all the obvious, but also less obvious reasons. One size fits all solutions are not as effective as they were, and not all issues can be tackled solely by medical expertise.
Enter Hacking Health. Originally from Canada, this medical hackathon is an international and above all fun format to tackle medical and health issues, using collective knowledge of not just medical professionals, but also designers, programmers, entrepreneurs and the experiences of patients themselves. This is the second time the UMCG is organizing Hacking Health, initiated by the Innovatiepoli from the Wenckebach Institute.
Ten teams, 3 prizes and all the help you need to follow through
This year’s edition will be bigger than last year. “We have room for 10 teams, so around 50 or 60 contestants and half of those have already signed up, so it’s going very well so far!” says Monique Taverne, one of the organizers. “And we’re also teaming up with Minerva Art Academy, with a few talented art students helping out the teams with visuals and design.”
To make things a little easier for the people pitching their ideas, the hackathon will be in Dutch this year. “We also have an after program this year”, Monique continues. “We had 6 teams last year and 5 of them are still working on their ideas. And that’s exactly what makes a hackathon so valuable, the feedback to really refine great ideas and then turn them into real live products. So that’s why we now have an after program, with an intake and guidance in the regional startup ecosystem, to really stimulate the teams to see things through.”
Anja van der Heide, project leader at the UMCG Rehabilitation Center, participated last year, with her team ‘Grijs als Gras’, a way to help the elderly feel less lonely by creating an interactive map of personal memories. The map is designed in such a way that it stimulates quantity and quality of social interactions. Grandparents share their stories, which are digitized in a very easy, intuitive way, with their children, grandchildren or youngsters in their own living environment. “Imagery and music are very powerful tools, also for people suffering from dementia”, Anja explains.
“I was already toying with the idea and decided to sign up for Hacking Health and the workshops, which really helped to narrow down and refine the idea, but also gave me the validation that it was good enough to continue developing it. The weekend was a real energy bomb for me.”
Throughout the rest of the year, Anja and her team member Robin Brouwer kept in touch to continue working on and developing Grijs als Gras. “We are now at the point where we are applying for a grant, looking for investments, a network and volunteers, especially creative historians”, she continues.
Anja will also be a volunteer for this year’s edition Hacking Health: “I’ve had a lot of fun and it’s great to watch people pitch ideas, experiment and work together from different disciplines, like medical specialist, designers and also patients. So I’m really looking forward to helping out this time.”
Are you a medical professional, designer, entrepreneur, patient or programmer, looking to make a difference in healthcare? Sign up for Hacking Health here!
Interested in helping Anja make ‘Grijs als Gras’ a reality? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org