If you’re familiar with the television show, “Shark Tank,” then you’re one step closer to understanding what goes on at a hackathon. Similar to the television show, teams at a hackathon pitch innovative projects to a panel of judges with hopes that the projects are funded for further development and eventually commercialized for use in the real world.
From Sept. 20 to 22, the newly established innovation center, BWH iHub, with MIT H@cking Medicine, held its inaugural event—BWH Hackathon—giving more than 100 clinicians, scientists, programmers and others an opportunity to compete and pitch projects for prizes to help bring their solutions from the drawing board to the clinical space and ultimately improve health care delivery.
During the three-day event, which took place in the Cabot Atrium and Shapiro Conference Center, participants from BWH, Harvard, MIT and other institutions, formed teams to collaborate on solutions to existing problems within the health care system. Solutions ranged from 3D-printed devices to mobile apps.
The event kicked off with a panel discussion moderated by Barbara Bierer, MD, senior vice president of Research, on Friday, Sept. 20. The panel featured Joseph Loscalzo, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine; Sachin Jain, MD, MBA, chief medical innovation officer at Merck; and Sung Park, serial entrepreneur, who answered questions and provided insight on innovation in the biomedical and health care industries.
The panel was followed by a motivating discussion about innovation and creativity by Rodrigo Martinez, Life Sciences chief strategist for IDEO, a design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations innovate and grow.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, the hackathon was in full swing with participants presenting 54 problem-based pitches. Of these pitches, 30 moved on to the next stage, where teams were formed to develop solutions to the problems posed. Seventeen solutions were then pitched the following day to a panel of judges.
The BWH iHub prize was awarded to team Ring Leader who developed a device to turn the standard exercise stress test into an outpatient procedure. The team used a 3D printer to create a ring (that can be worn on a finger) which uploads EKG readings and other relevant clinical metrics to an app so a physician can view them remotely.
“As a cardiologist I order stress tests to obtain objective data about my patients and their exercise capacity, “said Rajat Gupta, MD, Ring Leader team member and cardiology fellow in the BWH Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “It would be better if we could continuously collect this data, encourage patients to understand the importance of activity, and save them the expensive trip to the hospital. The hackathon introduced me to engineers from the MIT Media Lab who brought a new perspective to this problem, and developed a prototype in 48 hours! The whole weekend was centered on innovation, and incredibly fun at the same time.”
As recipients of the BWH iHub prize, the Ring Leader team has the opportunity to present at the CareFWD 2013 conference in Boston on Oct. 1. The conference is a regional cross-industry event bringing the Massachusetts health care community together to attend presentations and network with some of the biggest names in the health care industry. The Ring Leader team also received a $1,000 financial award and the ability to bring their project into the iHub as an innovation pipeline project which may lead to commercialization or dissemination.
Other prizes and winners included:
Ariadne Labs prize was awarded to Twiage. The prize was given to team Twiage for their proposal to link data from a plethora of health care providers—in this case, emergency pre-hospital care provider data with hospital-based care provider data. The team proposed a mobile app that can transmit data, such as pictures, videos and 12-lead EKGs between providers.
The MIT H@cking Medicine prize went to two teams—MobiDict and Prioritas. The MobiDict team developed a lightweight, platform-agnostic and secure application that can transfer dictated text from a smart phone to a computer. The Prioritas team built a system that organizes clinical reports that come into a physician’s office from various sources into a priority-organized list.
The Harvard Innovation Lab prize was presented to Szygy. This team developed a technology to address the values and tradeoffs for patients with serious illnesses using an adaptive and interactive model.
The STRATUS (Simulation, Training, Research and Technology Utilization System) Center for Medical Simulation prize went to CareMon. The team proposed a cutting-edge, inexpensive consumer grade bedside monitor to address the fears caregivers may have of leaving the bedside of their loved one.