BWH iHub’s first-ever Hackathon, held at BWH last September, brought together innovative minds from a variety of disciplines. The event gave more than 100 clinicians, scientists, programmers and others a chance to compete and pitch projects for prizes to ultimately help improve health care delivery.
Just six months later, two winning Hackathon teams have now been backed by major incubators. Twiage was selected as one of Blueprint Health’s health IT startups, and HermesIQ has been accepted into Techstars’ new class to help fund and develop its ideas.
Sticking Together, Sticking to the Concept
Both teams’ original concepts mirror what their applications are doing today. Team members say they took part in the hackathon for fun but also for the chance to run with their ideas and see if they would work. Part of the success of these groups came from selecting people with the same goals and ways of thinking.
“In order to create a well-operating team, you need to establish a team culture,” said Akansh Murthy, co-creator of HermesIQ. The main idea of HermesIQ is to convert patient documents saved as images into text formats so they could be altered and updated in real-time and on the go. “Our time at the hackathon was such a fun and informative opportunity.”
YiDing Yu, MD, a resident in BWH’s Department of Medicine, is a co-founder of Twiage, a mobile application created to deliver more accurate emergency information between ambulance drivers and awaiting hospitals. Twiage seeks to cut out the process of going through radio dispatches and relay patient information directly to computers at the hospital, for faster, more effective communication and patient care.
The real challenge with these projects comes after you have been recognized for your creation and you are ready to take it to the next level, said Yu. “It’s a pipe dream at first. You have this great idea, but you always have to learn more about it and keep developing it and improving,” she said.
Yu said another challenge is showing how your product is going to improve a hospital’s income, or provide a solution to an existing gap. Twiage seeks to reduce hospital expenses of paying third-party vendors. Future pilots hope to produce data that prove its worth.
One challenge HermesIQ has experienced is finding the time and energy to develop its product. Members of the original team are still students, or have full-time jobs, and have been unable to focus completely on product development.
“You form teams based on who will work well together, and a certain energy surrounds the event,” said Murthy. That energy and cohesion can be difficult to maintain post-hackathon.
Twiage and HermesIQ are both in development. They will launch pilots that they hope will produce data that will land their first customers. Along the way, they have learned valuable lessons when it comes to taking advice from mentors and investors.
“Many people will want to pull your ideas and designs different ways to fit their needs,” said Yu. “You have to stick to your ideas and incorporate other ideas without changing your original model.”