UAlberta brings health-focused hackathon to Edmonton

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta will be home to Alberta’s first hackathon in health care when Hacking Health comes to Edmonton Nov. 22 to 24.

Hacking Health is a 21st-century approach to finding solutions to challenges faced in the health-care system every day. The concept brings together health providers, patients, software developers, students, entrepreneurs and others for an effort that is always exciting—and sometimes messy—but intensely focused on results.

Hacking Health is the brainchild of U of A alumnus Jeeshan Chowdhury, who holds a medical doctorate and PhD, and is a Rhodes Scholar. Chowdhury, along with Matthew Huebert, an entrepreneur and designer, and Dominic Savoie, a developer, recognized the need for a venue in which health, computing science and business could come together and find solutions.

The first Hacking Health event was held in Montreal in 2012. Since then the concept has spread across the country and around the world, with hundreds of clinicians, patients, designers and developers taking part.

In November, Hacking Health comes to Alberta for the first time, and to Chowdhury’s hometown of Edmonton.

“Edmonton has great potential to be a leader in health-care technology,” says Chowdhury. “I am really looking forward to seeing the clinical expertise and technical talent of Edmonton come together to find innovative solutions. I strongly believe we have everything in Edmonton, the talent and the innovative spirit to transform the way we deliver health care.”

Previous events have, in just three days, resulted in working prototypes ready for testing and, from time to time, ready for commercialization. Mentors participating in the three-day hackathon include representatives from Alberta Health Services, Intuit Canada, Bits in Glass, OBS Global, Versett and Bird Communications.

“Affordable, accessible and personalized health care is a global challenge to which digital media technology can bring many anytime, anywhere solutions,” says Kellogg Booth, scientific director of GRAND, the Graphics, Animation and New Media Network of Centres of Excellence.

“Researchers and students in GRAND are partnering with health-care professionals to explore ways to develop technological solutions that will lower costs, decrease waiting times and improve patient outcomes for the delivery of health-care services and, equally important, to develop new digital tools that will enable individuals to take greater responsibility for their own wellness. Hacking Health helps make this happen by bringing the right people together for intensive interaction; GRAND is proud to support this University of Alberta hackathon.”

Hacking Health Edmonton is also supported through a partnership between the U of A’s Department of Computing Science and the Health Sciences Education and Research Commons, which operates under the auspices of the Health Sciences Council.

“This is a new age of health-care innovation, and Hacking Health is exactly the kind of interdisciplinary endeavour the council encourages,” says Douglas Miller, chair of the Health Sciences Council and dean of medicine and dentistry at the U of A. “As a leader in interprofessional health education, and with solid experience teaching the fundamentals of collaboration, HSERC is an ideal partner for Hacking Health.”

Find out more or register for Hacking Health Edmonton