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More Disruption Please! Meet Athenahealth’s Hackathon Winners

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Athenahealth promoted an integrated model of care at their hackathon. Photo by Dr. Jessica Shanahan.

From November 15 to 17, 2014, engineers, entrepreneurs, physicians, nurses, public health workers, designers, scientists and business leaders gathered with one mission: driving healthcare change. Together, they spent the weekend at athenahealth’s More Disruption Please hackathon, which took place in Watertown in parternship with MIT’s Hacking Medicine and Jawbone.

At the hackathon, Athena provided access to APIs (application program interfaces), making it easier for participants to develop innovative solutions to pressing healthcare problems. Jawbone also provided developer band kits and access to their APIs, too, and 21 mentors were on hand to equip teams with mental expertise.

The race was tight, but after final pitch-offs, the judges deliberated and winners were announced. Judges included Chuck Freedman, an API Strategist and Director of Vertical Insights at Intel; Alex Pelletier, the Manager of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Innovation Program; Brad Weinberg, founding partner at Blueprint Health; Manidra Singh, Senior Manager at athenahealth; and our very own Jennifer Joe, CEO of Medstro and Editor-in-Chief of MedTech Boston.


Judges listen to live pitches. Photo via @MedTechBoston.

Team MEDI came in first, winning $3,000, six office hours with an Athena expert and six months of desk space in the athenahealth accelerator. Jessica Shanahan, a practicing anesthesiologist and the Director for Preoperative Services at the VA Boston first noticed that doctors get medication lists wrong when she was in training. So on the first day of the athenahealth hack, Shanahan explained this problem to her peers. Within hours, she had a team of software and healthcare professionals gathered to find an innovative solution. The pitch? A medication reconciliation service for the pre-operative period.

We first spent some time explaining the problem and then coming up with a use case – a patient-centered example of how the current system works and where errors occur,” she says. “We had our setbacks when the numbers didn’t support us or when we identified similar products already being offered. We had to further refine our product to be unique and worthwhile from a financial and service standpoint, and the software developers had to react to these changes. The developers on the team ultimately came up with a great beta version of what our product would look like to showcase to the judges.”

Ultimately, MEDI’s benefits – patient safety and money saved from decreased complications and case cancellations – outweighed the challenges, propelling the team to the top of a competitive field.

In second place, the Cuff Guys developed a device to detect deep vein thrombosis in a primary care office. They, too, won six months of desk space in the athenahealth accelerator, and they walked away with $2,000.

airCare, a method of vaccine distribution using drone technology, took third place. Kos, a platform that collects real-time data from many sources and allows others to write applications from this data, won the Jawbone Prize and the Human API prize.

It was an incredible experience to suggest a problem to work on one day, and have a beta version of a solution to it the next,” Shanahan says. “Progress like that is rare in healthcare so that was truly impressive.”

Jenni Whalen

Jenni Whalen

    Jenni Whalen is the Executive Assistant of Editorial at Upworthy. She was previously MedTech Boston's Managing Editor and has an MS in Journalism from Boston University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Bucknell University. Whalen has written for Greatist, Boston magazine, AZ Central Healthy Living and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other places. She has also worked as a conference planner, ghost writer, researcher and content developer.

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