Dr. Michael Docktor (yes, his name is Dr. Docktor), age 35, sits down with us to talk about the 2013 Hacking Pediatrics Hackathon. Dr. Docktor is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Director of Clinical Mobile Solutions, and the physician lead of the Hacking Pediatrics Executive Team.
This will be Boston Children’s Hospital first ever hackathon and is currently set to take place October 18-20, 2013. The Hackathon is being held in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) H@cking Medicine.
Why did you and Boston Children’s Hospital decide to have a hackathon now?
The idea was born out of the frustration that there was so much cool stuff happening on the West Coast—with Stanford and Silicon Valley. I wondered why start-ups and innovation weren’t happening here in Boston, with the incredibly fertile environment with MIT, Harvard Medical School, and other huge academic hospitals.
The original idea was to have an incubator or accelerator, where we could encourage new ideas, innovative solutions, provide the space and resources, and really allow the ideas to flourish. We needed a place to start, and thus the hackathon. I regularly met with the Innovation Acceleration Program at Boston Children’s. One day, I was sitting around with Alexandra Pelletier and Judy Wang banging around ideas. Judy said that we should connect with MIT Hacking Medicine, and that was sort of the light bulb moment.
The leadership has really been supportive about this, both financially and by promising ongoing mentorship. Naomi Fried PhD, Chief Innovation Officer, Dan Nigrin MD, MS, Chief Information Officer, Dick Argys, Chief Adminstrative Officer, Laura Wood DNP, MS, RN, Chief Nursing Officer and Erik Halvorsen PhD, Director of the Technology and Innovation Development Office have been really supportive. We want to foster and shepherd along these ideas. And beyond a cash reward, we want to provide teams with the opportunities to pilot their programs. What would be more desirable for a start-up than to have the opportunity to connect with a clinical champion and pilot at a major academic hospital?
How did you get into innovation and technology?
It all started when I got my first iPhone about 5 years ago. Because my passion is really as a gastroenterology pediatrician, I wanted to solve a problem that I saw. Initially, the app idea started as a desire to help parents with potty training. But the app can be used for any positive reinforcement. It’s called “IEarnedThat”. It’s kind of like an elaborate school star chart. I have a 4-year-old daughter. For example, I could take a picture of something that she really wants, say a Barbie. You can then divide that picture into as many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle as you’d like. Every time she does something good, say, brushes her teeth twice a day, then she would earn a piece of the puzzle. When the puzzle’s done, she gets a Barbie. It’s really amazing how well it works, especially in the special needs community, like children with autism.
For a guide to our current entrepreneurs, how did you find your programmers?
It was really bootstrapped. We went on Craig’s List. I think we were initially going to hire a team from Bulgaria, but we decided to go with two local software developers who were new to iOS. They way over- engineered it but it was a fantastic learning experience for all of us.
What type of social media are you using?
I’m not so into Facebook. I try to keep my personal life personal. However, I am pretty new to Twitter and amazed at the connections and information one can make on it. I can be followed at @MichaelDocktor. We’ve also created a fantastic Children’s Hospital Mobility Flipboard which Kate Donovan PhDc, MBA, BS and I curate. I just recently wrote a blog on The Boston Children’s Hospital science and clinical innovation blog.
What would you recommend to young entrepreneurs out there?
I think the key to medical innovation is to find a pain point and a clinical champion.
My passion is healthcare optimization, whether that is with innovation, making scientific discoveries, or improving delivery. I love bringing people and ideas together and making projects work. With this, medicine exists to improve lives, and I will strive to always help patients and those around me.
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