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What is Hacking Health?

If you’ve been to the e-Health 2014 or 2015 Conferences, you’re already familiar with our mission to transform healthcare by connecting healthcare professionals with designers, developers, innovators and entrepreneurs to build realistic, human-centric solutions to front-line healthcare problems (or if you’re not: here’s a 1-minute primer).

Over the two years that have passed since I helped co-organize the first annual e-Health Hackathon in 2014 as part of the Vancouver chapter of Hacking Health, I’ve watched the Hacking Health movement explode across Canada and then the globe. Where are we now? Well…

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During this time, local chapters have held hackathons all over the world and we’ve also seen several special milestones and events. These include the 4-day Hacking Health Camp in Strausbourg (now in its third year), the first U.S.-Canada cross border hackathon in Windsor-Detroit, and the first Hacking Health event in Asia, Hacking Health Hong Kong (which I was lucky enough to help co-organize and attend in person). Of all the milestones, the Vancouver e-Health Hackathon in 2014 is still very close to my heart. It was amazing to see a hackathon side-by-side with the educational talks and vendor innovations at the conference, to listen to the conversations as conference delegates mingled easily with the health hackers, and to watch the teams present their solutions to a truly excited and supportive room of Pan-Canadian healthcare technology stakeholders.  Everyone – hackers and delegates alike – were clearly hungry for innovation and ready to see change in the healthcare system.

I was amazed by the quality and creativity of the prototypes that the cross-disciplinary teams managed to develop in just two days, but couldn’t help but wonder: as impressive as the projects turned out in 48 hours, what kind of innovation would we see if they had more time? What if teams were able to spend longer researching user requirements, working with mentors, and refining their prototypes? At the e-Health 2015 Conference in Toronto, we learned the answer with another milestone: the first Hacking Health 8-week Design Challenge. The increased length allowed larger and more complex problems and ideas to be tackled compared to a traditional hackathon, which gave hospitals, academic institutions, and policymakers an opportunity to bring their toughest issues to the table. Zuubly, CareKit and ArtOnTheBrain are only a few examples of the fantastic projects that were developed and presented.  

I’m thrilled to help bring the Design Challenge format to Vancouver this year as part of the e-Health 2016 Conference. The Hacking Health movement has demonstrated that frontline healthcare professionals can make amazing progress in transforming healthcare when given an opportunity to innovate from the bottom up, and through co-organizing events with Hacking Health Vancouver and Healthcare Experience Design I have seen firsthand that Vancouver is a hub of global innovation in healthcare technology. I have met so many amazing, passionate people with great ideas in all sectors: clinical, tech, design, and business. And we are all absolutely ready to bring our A-games to Canadian healthcare innovation at the e-Health Conference Design Challenge this year.

Will you join us?

Learn more about Hacking Health Vancouver: http://hackinghealth.ca/city/vancouver-canada/

Follow the #eHealth2016 and #HHVan2016 hashtags and the @hackinghealthca, @HHVancouver, and @ehealthconf accounts on Twitter for updates! Questions about the design challenge? Email Vancouver@hackinghealth.ca or Rachel.barker@hackinghealth.ca to find out more.