100 healthcare innovators collaborate for 48 hours to hatch real-life healthcare solutions
On March 3-5, one hundred innovators spent roughly 24 hours to ‘hatch’ solutions for some of today’s toughest healthcare challenges at the second annual Great Hatch event.
The Great Hatch – presented by the Pacific Health Innovation Exchange (PHIX) – differed from a traditional hackathon (an event typically involving mainly computer programmers and software developers to collaborate intensively on software projects) as participants and mentors across all technical, healthcare and design backgrounds were invited to hatch initial software and hardware solutions to relevant problems in medicine. Participants were provided with tools and resources, such as 3D printing services, to conceptualize and actualize their ideas.
“Healthcare, engineering and design are, interestingly, all about the same core concept – how do we handle complex and nuanced issues with elegant approaches? Bringing together professionals and students to identify and validate problems and rapidly prototype solutions lets a level of communication and engagement occur that you can’t get anywhere else. Medical technology innovation happens when different disciplines are engaged together” says co-director Rohit Singla, a UBC Master’s of Biomedical Engineering student.
In addition to the 100 participants, this year’s event hosted 30 mentors and 8 judges which included software engineers, nurses, medical residents, mechanical engineers, designers, data scientists, entrepreneurs, and more. From over 30 problems pitched, 15 interdisciplinary teams were formed and tackled problems which ranged from fentanyl overdose, depression, pressure ulcers, improving quality of life for seniors, urine flow monitoring, and combating fake news. Winners were selected based on interdisciplinary collaboration, potential healthcare impact, innovation, and excellence. Primary sponsors of The Great Hatch include the PHIX, Genome BC, and the UBC Faculties of Medicine and Applied Science.
The Faculty of Medicine Catalyst Award for best interdisciplinary collaboration went to Opioid Crisis, a team trying to prevent deaths from the Fentanyl overdose. The Genome BC Impact Award for biggest potential healthcare impact went to MommyData, an eHealth literacy tool for new mothers. The Faculty of Applied Science Award for best innovation over the course of the Great Hatch went to one of the finalists, LocoMobility. They successfully prototyped a low-cost device to address pressure ulcers in developing nations.
The PHIX Grand Prize for excellence in the Great Hatch went to two teams – BeLeaf and UriKnow. BeLeaf tackled depression through a unique, personalized way of connecting with loved ones, and UriKnow focused on urine flow rate monitoring for the busy hospital workplace.
This year’s Great Hatch was co-directed by Rohit Singla (MASc Cand.) and Arun Dhir (MD Cand.), along with Melissa Lachica, Christine Liu, Olivia Paserin, and Angela Martinez. Following the success of the second annual event, The Great Hatch is quickly becoming one of Vancouver’s premier healthcare innovation events. Similar events have taken place at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and Johns Hopkins University, and have spawned several technologies that have gone on to commercialization.
“The Great Hatch is about bringing together enthusiastic innovators from across a wide range of disciplines to address relevant problems and foster growth of the solutions to bring about change,” said UBC Master of Biomedical Engineering student Cameron Stuart, a co-founder of the organization.
Hatching Health aims to disrupt how healthcare is traditionally administered to British Columbians. The organization is comprised of medical innovation enthusiasts working towards improved healthcare prevention and treatment by connecting the people who have the problems with the people who can solve them. The team plans to foster an agile community of medical innovators in BC and continue to facilitate opportunities for hatching ideas and collaboration.