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Hacking Health: and the winners are...

207 days ago

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Last weekend, the Groningen University Hospital was one of four Dutch hospitals hosting a 52 hour hackathon. Ten teams worked around the clock to come up with a cool pitch, concept and prototype, dazzle the local judges and compete on a national scale.


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 and the experiences of patients themselves. On Sunday afternoon, the 10 final pitches were presented to a panel of experts.

Taking the stairs and sharing your fails

Real Heroes take the Stairs was the first team to pitch, promoting the health benefits of a little exercise. The problem: people are not encouraged to take stairs in the hospital. The team’s solution is simple, positive reinforcement. By painting the route to the stairs, leading up to a screen with a button that says “I’m a hero”, with cheers sounding when you press it.

Healthcare Intro addresses the problem of refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers not knowing their way around the healthcare system, and volunteers not trained to help with medical issues. With the help of a set of cards with illustrations, it will be a lot easier for refugees and volunteers trying to help them to point out medical and health problems. The team is currently getting 50 volunteers together and wants to start the first tests in October.

Virtual Harmony helps both patients suffering from dementia and their relatives with 3D visualization of memories, projected on all the walls of a room. Though this kind of therapy really benefits patients, VR gear can be disorienting, and screens are usually not big enough for patients to focus on. Projection across the entire room, along with software that can turn regular photos into 3D should help.

ShiftBuddy helps people who work in shifts (many of them in healthcare). Common problems are trouble sleeping and irregular meal times, resulting in stress and health problems. By sending advice and automatic reminders through push notifications in existing apps like Telegram or WhatsApp, ShiftBuddy helps people create structure and reducing stress.

Today’s Youth wants to help the many struggling teens. In this day and age and culture of success, and social media, where artificial perfection is the norm, the team wants to create a platform to share your fails and screwups. By focussing on the fails and turning that into a positive thing, the platform aims to help teens build a more positive self image.

Getting out of bed and predicting diabetes

MantelSpot matches patients in urgent need with available caregivers. Say a patient has an appointment at the hospital and his or her caregiver or relative can’t take the patient to the hospital. The app shows patients which professional caregivers are available and connects them in an easy way.

Maintaining a balanced diet with healthy foods can be difficult at times. With FoodWatcher, all you need to do is take a photograph. The app recognizes the food on your plate and gives you the nutritional information, as well as keeping track of your daily consumption, giving you real time feedback.

The sooner patients are able to get out of bed and walk around, the faster the recovery time. But in many cases, that’s a lot easier said than done. Get out of Bed is an easy to use foldout card, where patients simply slide out the emoticon representing how easy or difficult it is for them to move, and on the other side of the card, the appropriate exercise slides out. This will help people find intrinsic motivation to get out of bed and recover much faster.

Janus Health will use soon to be available sensors that can measure blood sugar levels through the skin to help predict the risk or onset of diabetes, a few years before it can be diagnosed. Based on the combination of two algorithms, the app, along with the sensor, can measure in real time and help people change their diet long before it’s too late.

When you have a hospital appointment, knowing what to bring, which medical specialist to talk to and navigating through the hospital, can be a daunting task. Especially considering the reason for having an appointment in the first place is usually a serious one, with a lot of added stress. MijnHandHeld tells you exactly what to bring, sends reminders, helps you find your way around the hospital and even sends you a notification when there’s heavy traffic. And it also gives you the option to record the conversation with the medical specialist, so you can listen back to important information or answers to specific questions.

And the winners are…

After a quick deliberation by the judges, the decision to pick a winner in two categories was unanimous. In the category Best Human Centered Design, the winner was MijnHandHeld, and Best Innovation went to Janus Health. The Audience Choice this year was a tie, with two winners receiving the exact same amount of votes: Health Intro and Janus Health.

All the winners will get extensive coaching and consulting, by companies like Deloitte, TNO, KPN, Ordina and Health Hub Roden, to turn the winning concept into a real life solution.

206 days ago

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