Make your experience count.
Bringing the Patient Voice to Healthcare Technology
The Patients’ Association was invited to participate in the Oct 20-22, 2012 Hacking Health event at the MaRS DD centre. Based on the “hackathon” model, the event brought together those with ideas for healthcare applications with programmers, designers, medical professionals and many others, to develop working models -- in two days! Our role was to provide patient insights to the teams as mentors and to participate in the judging of the applications.
Many teams had yet to consider how to include patients in the design process; some had yet to even consider including patients. The Patients' Association wants to help solve this problem.
How the Event Unfolded
After a Friday evening spent pitching ideas and networking, participants spent almost all of Saturday hacking. Teams worked doggedly, with guidance from designers and mentors, until the doors closed at 9pm. Some groups were even said to have stayed up all night in order to finish their projects.
During Saturday, Patients' Association members went from team to team, observing, learning about and bringing the patient perspective to these groups. Almost everyone we spoke with agreed that the inclusion of direct patient input would be essential to any successful healthcare technology. Our impression was that the underlying motivation for all these people is a burning desire to improve healthcare and people’s health.
On Sunday, starting at 8am, tired team members rushed to put the finishing touches on their prototypes so that they could be presented after lunch. More than 25 projects were presented to a panel of judges including a representative from the Patients' Association. Judges were given the chance to ask questions and make their individual assessments on a variety of criteria. Meanwhile, the audience cheered and clapped as they were continually impressed by the creativity, utility and quality of the projects. Ideas ranged from an app for identifying medications using a digital image, to a program which would send a patient's vital signs directly to a physician's smart phone, to an on-line forum where cancer patients could create visual and text-based narratives.
After some tense waiting during deliberations, the winners were announced. There were multiple award categories but two coveted, top honours - “Most likely to succeed” and “Make the widest impact”. These awards went to Community Links and Pocket Labs respectively, both apps designed to improve the patient experience! You can find out more about the winners and the Hacking Health organization by reading their blog or going to their site.
Thanks to the Hacking Health team for including us in this worthwhile event. The Patients' Association looks forward to further involvement with this organization and many others, as e-health continues to influence the changing landscape of medicine.
Photo taken from Hacking Health Facebook Page.
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