Guest Post: My Experience at the Fraser Health Hackathon
Over the weekend of January 21-22, 2017, Fraser Health hosted a hackathon with the goal of creating innovative solutions to some of the most pressing issues plaguing healthcare today. The event gathered a group of students and professionals from various backgrounds at the SFU Surrey campus for a weekend of networking, collaboration, problem solving and innovation.
— Liberate the Data (@OpenDataBC) January 31, 2017
Our healthcare system is under enormous strain due to rising costs from an aging population and brain drain from an aging workforce. Technology will play a crucial role in the transformation of healthcare in the coming years as we look for ways to improve the efficiency of the system in order to maintain a high quality of care in the face of increased demand and decreased resources.
This was my first hackathon and I was nervous; I had no idea what to expect. Once I got there, I quickly realized that many of the participants were from the tech community, which made sense being a hackathon, but was definitely expecting more healthcare professionals. The idea I pitched was for the mental health challenge, so I was fortunate enough to garner some interest from a family physician from Victoria, Dr. Harrison, who had also done a residency in psychiatry.
The goal of our app was to create a user-friendly tool to guide individuals through an acute anxiety attack. Our main focus was making the app simple to navigate and provide a tool that users would have access to no matter when or where they had an anxiety attack. We had identified an issue with lack of timely access to resources for individuals during an anxiety attack and wanted to bridge this gap with the use of technology.
Having no technological background, we managed to create a mockup of our app with the assistance of some of the more tech savvy participants, in exchange for our knowledge of the healthcare system – collaboration at its finest! When all was said and done, we saw some incredibly innovative solutions come out of this weekend, which goes to show the power of interprofessional collaboration.
From a pharmacist’s perspective, this was a great experience as it provided an opportunity for us healthcare practitioners to collaborate with individuals outside of the healthcare professions, who we don’t often get a chance to work with. Working on the front lines, we can identify problems we see in the healthcare system, but often cannot build the most efficient solutions. Conversely, other professionals may have the ability to build these solutions, but don’t necessarily know the problems. Putting the groups together, we get innovative solutions to everyday problems by leveraging the strengths of the individuals involved.
Moving forward, I highly recommend more healthcare professionals get involved in events like this and share their ideas. Your knowledge and experience may be the missing piece to the next big innovation in healthcare.
Mark Zhou is currently the pharmacy director at Igotshot.ca, an online communications platform for physicians and pharmacists. Also a part time pharmacist facilitator at UBC and drug information pharmacist at Healthlink BC. UBC pharmacy graduate 2013. Previously worked as an Associate at Shoppers Drug Mart.