Nayan Jain, Presidential Innovation Fellow and self-described Healthcare Hacker and Google Glass Explorer, who is also a mentor for this weekend’s Blue Button Innovation Challenge, tells MedTech Boston, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see VCs writing checks and new startups forming as a result of this weekend.” Teams, you’d better bring your A game!
This weekend, the Boston community will come together to partake in the first ever Boston Blue Button Innovation Challenge to be held at the Tufts University School of Medicine. The event is hosted by Tufts University MedStart and co-hosted by MIT H@cking Medicine. Rohan Jotwani, MD/MBA candidate at the Tufts School of Medicine and organizer at Tufts MedStart, tells MedTech Boston that this is the second year “hosting an innovation challenge at the Tufts School of Medicine, open to all medical/doctoral students, practicing physicians, patients, business professionals, developers, designers, engineers and really anyone both within our Tufts community and throughout the Boston area.”
At the time that Tufts was planning on hosting their second hackathon, MIT H@cking Medicine had been approached by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to help spread the word about the Blue Button Initiative, which is essentially the implementation of certain technological standards that will allow patients to easily access their medical information.
Boston is lucky to house prominent healthcare innovations proponent, Aman Bhandari, PhD, former Senior Advisor to the U.S. CTO, Todd Park, at the White House. There he worked on a variety global and national health policy issues and initiatives at the intersection of health IT, data, and innovation in the context of the Affordable Care and HITECH Acts as well as the Open Government Initiative. He had the foresight to see the implications of the Blue Button Initiative, and this was an effort he worked on. He has been highly visible at other ecosystem changing events such as the recent Hacking Pediatrics Hackathon. Dr. Bhandari saw the importance of Boston as a health revolution ecosystem and introduced the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT to MIT H@cking Medicine. Mr. Nayan Jain agrees in saying, “Boston is a hub for innovation, geographically it has a high concentration of medical and technical talent.”
Because of the obvious synergy, Tufts MedStart and MIT H@cking Medicine joined forces. Andrea Ippolito, MIT PhD candidate and Co-leader of MIT H@cking Medicine, tell us that it “was a perfect match – engineers and providers-in-training coming together to develop disruptive solutions to empower patients in healthcare!”
In Meaningful Use 2, Blue Button provides a secure and standardized way for patients to view, download, and transmit their data. Many would like to transmit to a third party consumer application like a PHR (Personal Health Record), med adherence app, research data donation platform, etc. Decreasing this data entry friction in consumer facing products is a big deal and many hospitals are rolling out this functionality right now. Ms. Ippolito says, “it was a great opportunity to get in on the ground level with this exciting initiative that could unleash data for patients – a ripe area for hacking in the healthcare space!”
But why a hackathon? Keynote speaker, Sachin Jain, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Information and Innovation Officer at Merck, Lecturer in Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, and actively practicing physician at the Boston VA Medical Center tells MedTech Boston, “We know breakthrough innovation often occurs with ideas from outside of a core field, and hackathons serve as a great platform to bring together people from multiple disciplines. Boston has incredibly talented minds and to see a place where people can gather like this is highly needed in medicine in order to innovate.” Mr. Nayan Jain says hackathons are “the perfect formula for disruption. It attracts the right people to solve a meaningful problem supported by top innovators. What is better than creating experiences to improve (and potentially save) lives for patients…Boston is a hub for innovation. Geographically, it has a high concentration of medical and technical talent.”
We are especially excited that Dr. Sachin Jain is a keynote speaker, as he was an intergral part of setting up the ONC as we know it today with Dr. David Blumenthal as well as the $10B Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center. Dr. Bhandari and Dr. Sachin Jain both worked together to help launch the first Blue Button Government efforts while at the White House. So it’s great to see continued collaboration now that they are both in the private sector.
In the last six month, Boston has certainly had its share of hackathons. Most would agree that it’s an unusually exciting experience, often liberating, because it brings so many diverse people related to medicine into conversation together. Catherine Rose, a Senior Product Manager for Healthcare Applications at Philips and keynote speaker, tells us, “I’m looking forward to the Hackathon because I feel it’s a great opportunity for caregivers and patients like me to involve themselves in improving the future of Medicine. Having a daughter with many medical issues is never easy, but I know we can create the tools to make collaboration with our doctors and therapists better.”
Last Friday, there was an initial boot camp to get the competitors ready. Alisa Niksch, MD, Director of Pediatric Electrophysiology and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Tufts Medical Center, who is also mentor for the hackathon, says “I can already tell the atmosphere at the hackathon will be pretty electric. Dan Karlin, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Residency Program Director at Tufts, also a mentor, says, “I had the pleasure of speaking last Friday at the pre-event orientation where I found the participants to be clever, creative, and motivated; I’m excited to engage with them and their work this weekend.”
James Ryan, Managing Partner at Farpoint Ventures is particularly looking forward to the hackathon, and not only because he’s a judge. “I find hackathons to be a great source of deal flow for Farpoint. With so much venture money going into the MedTech sector these days, it’s important for us to stay ahead of the game and work with teams early in order to participate in funding the best companies,” said Mr. Ryan.
With all of this, there is no doubt that brilliant teams will form at this weekend’s hackathon, which is set to start at 5:30pm this Friday at the Tufts University School of Medicine Sackler Building. For those developers and software writers, if you want to get a leg up, MIT H@cking Medicine is throwing a Boot Camp Workshop for Developers from 1-5pm on Friday at the MIT Sloan (E62-233).
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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