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The MedTech Boston Guide to Planning a Healthcare Hackathon

The Theme

CAMTech's Jugaadathon, a 2014 medical technology hackathon in India. Photo provided by CAMTech.

CAMTech kept the theme of Jugaadathon, a 2014 medical technology hackathon in India, very broad to attract as many participants as possible. Photo provided by CAMTech.

Conceptualizing and planning a hackathon isn’t easy. Before working on logistics and finding a space for the hackathon, most organizers agree that you must first decide on a theme. Although healthcare hackathons are already centered on finding solutions to today’s health problems, many hackathons specify further and focus on one area of medicine. Lina Colucci, co-director of MIT Hacking Medicine, recalls that her team initially didn’t settle on specific themes within healthcare for their hackathons. “More recently, different themes have been popping up,” she says. “The more constraints you give people, the more creative they are.” MIT Hacking Medicine’s themes have varied widely, from pediatrics to wearable technology to global health.

Indeed, many healthcare hackathon organizers say that giving people a specific issue within medicine yields better results. However, there are still several high-profile healthcare hackathons that keep their events broad; the Brigham Innovation Hub, for example, has never had a specific theme for their events because their main goal is to get as many attendees as possible into the room.

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Brendan Pease

Brendan Pease

    Brendan Pease was MedTech Boston's first ever editorial and events intern. He is now a junior at Harvard University where he studies Molecular and Cellular Biology. He’s also the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Harvard Science Review. Previously, he worked as a Market Intelligence intern at athenahealth and as a research assistant in the Goldberg Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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    1. Laura Henze Russell says:

      This was such a great event that I registered for @IBMWatson #Hackathon May 4-5 in NYC. Who else from GrandHack is going?

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