Hackathon Collage
Written by Diane Wild, Senior Consultant, Communications and Public Affairs

In a first for a B.C. health authority, more than 80 members of the tech community collaborated with our experts to solve some of health care's biggest challenges.

What a weekend. Fuelled by collaboration and caffeine, brilliant minds came together January 21-22 at the Fraser Health Hackathon – a first for a B.C. health authority, held in partnership with Simon Fraser University, the City of Surrey and Innovation Boulevard with support from the Health Tech Innovation Foundation, UrbanLogiq, OpenDataBC and TELUS.

After two intense days of planning and development, 16 teams presented their prototype solutions to one of nine challenges. Three teams were awarded prize packages for creating solutions focused on:

  1. The overdose crisis;
  2. Clinical decision making to help shift resources from the hospital to community care; and
  3. Personal health records to help keep seniors healthy at home. 

These solutions will continue to be further developed, and additional teams are being considered for an opportunity to collaborate further with Fraser Health and the Innovation Boulevard Health Tech Innovation Foundation. A 16-20 week incubator period will allow teams to engage with clinical and operational leadership to refine a solution before presenting it to Fraser Health’s executive team.

Team First Responders – TELUS prize package

“I was shocked and elated when they announced our team won,” says Sean Bergunder, a first-time hackathon participant and member of the team that created an opioid overdose alert system. Initially challenged by the limitations of available data, his team's solution identifies areas with high overdose rates and allows a user to trigger a response from someone in the immediate area who can administer Naloxone quickly, increasing the chance of survival after an overdose occurs.

Team Spurious Correlations – Innovation Boulevard: Health Tech Innovation Foundation prize package

Team Spurious Correlations presented a solution that used machine learning to find a relationship between respiratory infection emergency room visits and changes in air pollution, weather and frequency of local Twitter and Google searches, which are visualized as an interactive map. Their model, which can be used for other types of illnesses, can forecast when spikes in emergency visits are likely to occur, allowing for better resource and staff planning, and helping identify where health care services can be delivered outside the hospital. "Health care contains some of the most interesting, diverse and complicated problems to solve," says team member Matt Ptoma. "It also matters. Instead of working for pure interest or academic reasons, real change can be made. By diverting CTAS 4/5 patients away from the ER, we would be allowing the ER staff to focus on more critical cases."

Team Care Crew – X-Factor prize

Headed by UBC Master of Health Administration student Christina Chiu, Care Crew is a mobile app developed for families to help support seniors aging at home. It centralizes medication lists, dietary restrictions, symptom tracking and other health information so seniors and their families can easily share information with health care providers and all those involved in the senior's care.

“It is so exciting that Fraser Health took the bold step of holding the first ever health authority hackathon and establishing a 20-week incubator program," says Chiu. "This is the direction health care needs to go, to courageously and boldly embrace innovation that is acceptable, appropriate, accessible, safe and effective."

If you missed the hackathon in person or on social media at #FHhackathon, watch the video for a taste of the event:

For more information on the Fraser Health Hackathon, read the media release.

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