By Irek Kusmierczyk, PhD
The participants came from health and IT and business. They came from Windsor, Detroit and as far away as Quebec City. They came to collaborate, innovate and have fun – all the while working on ideas at the intersection of health and technology that improves service and care.
38 ideas were pitched – and by the end of the weekend 20 teams demonstrated their finished projects to a panel of superstar judges that included among others the Chief Medical Officer for Innovation at Henry Ford Health System and the Chair of the World Health Innovation Network at the University of Windsor.
Their prizes include a free admission to the high powered Mackinac Policy Conference 2017 and ten hours consulting both courtesy of the Detroit Chamber of Commerce – as well as six-months of incubation space and business mentoring provided by Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator and WEtech Alliance – a prize haul totaling around $10,000.
Eight prizes – totalling over $30,000 in value – were handed out: Accessibility App, a sort of Trip Advisor for families with children or adults with special needs, garnering both the Overall Judges Prize and the Top Team from Canada.
“There are apps out there that rate accessibility of restaurants and cinemas, but they don’t tell you if they have push button door access or a wall bar in the bathroom,” says Anne Girard, one of the team leads and Director of Physiotherapy at the John McGivney Children’s Centre. “Accessibility App paints a more complete picture of the accessibility challenges and amenities because the feedback is user driven.”
“Hacking Health Windsor Detroit is truly a cross-border collaboration that’s a boundary buster in so many ways,” says Yvonne Pilon, President and CEO of WEtech Alliance, one of the co-organizers along with TechTown Detroit, and the University of Windsor’s EPICentre.
Hacking Health is a global phenomenon with chapters and events in over 30 cities from Berlin to New York, Montreal to Mexico City – but Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit is the first cross-border Hacking Health in the world. This year the organizers also involved a team from Sheffield, UK collaborating with a team from the University of Windsor’s EPICentre via Skype.
The successful event was driven by over 30 partnerships that included area hospitals such as Windsor Regional Hospital and Henry Ford Hospital, universities such as Wayne State University and University of Windsor, tech companies like Next Healthcare and Mitra Systems Inc., business support organizations such as the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation and Michigan’s New Economy Initiative.
MORE THAN JUST APPS
A team made up of computer science and engineering students from the University of Windsor and University of Western Ontario were awarded the Best Caregiver Prize for their use of wearable technology – a smart watch Angel Sensor – to develop a hand washing application called Mwendo that encourages and tracks hand washing by doctors, nurses and other frontline hospital staff.
“We provide a better solution to a serious problem of nosocomial infections,” says app co-founder Abrahim Abduelmula
Hacking Health Windsor Detroit alternates venues between the two cities: “Next year’s event will return to TechTown Detroit and we cannot wait to start planning,” says Paul Riser, Director of Technology Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit. “We have a great little competition going now with our Canadian partners to see who can put on the best event.”
Hacking Health mentors from Waterloo, Hamilton, and Quebec City were on hand to bring back best practices for their own upcoming Hacking Health events as the global Hacking Health community continues to gather strength.
Other winners included
Judges Overall Prize and Best Team from Canada: Accessibility App
An app enabling families with children or adults with special needs to determine a building’s accessibility. Restaurants and other community buildings will call themselves “accessible” when in fact they have steps to get into the building, no push button access, and only a wall bar in the washroom, along with other barriers. The app enables users to fill out a checklist; based on how many checks they get, the site obtains an accessibility star rating.
Best caregiver/patient management app: Mwendo
Improper hand-washing by frontline staff in hospitals increases infections. Mwendo employs a smartwatch that scans hands and determines cleanliness, washing time etc. with a tracking and reporting feature.
Best clinical app or solutions: PORTall
Patients usually don’t know when their ports/central lines need to be accessed, flushed, or have dressing changes. In addition, they don’t know what size needle is used, what heparin concentration is used, or figures about volume. PORTall streamlines maintenance and care of venous access devices such as ports/PICCs/central lines by allowing healthcare facilities to enter & access this vital information.
Highest potential for patient/social impact: My Meds
Studies show 72 per cent of patients can’t list their meds. It is critical to empower patients with a solution that allows them, their caregivers and healthcare providers to track medications and allergies. My Meds updates med lists automatically in a secure platform.
Highest potential for adoption: Transition
An application to assist in the overwhelmingly complicated and drawn-out process of gender transitioning. The application will focus on streamlining important information, tracking hormone intake, tracking physical and mental changes for use by healthcare professionals, and providing a repository of additional resources within the community.
Best U.S. Team: Sugar Free Foods
Millions of people have diabetes. This app delivers a better way for them to gather and share information related to blood glucose levels.
People’s Choice Award: V911
Provides real-time video streaming for use in emergency management to assist and connect first responders with ER technicians and staff.