Hacking Health Café: Designing for Healthcare

On May 11th, a sold-out event brought more than 60 people together at Impact Hub Ottawa for an inspiring event on using technology to solve problems in the healthcare system.

The Hub was the perfect place to bring together designers, UX experts, policy analysts, entrepreneurs and healthcare administrators to discuss innovation in healthcare. The Hub has been a partner of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Hacking Health Ottawa’s innovation platform from the time the initiative was launched in March, with the support of volunteers from IBM.

Additionally, as a collaborative learning environment and incubation ecosystem for people and organizations working to better the world, the Hub’s spirit of innovation and teamwork permeated the event.

Yishel Khan, the founder of DOT Inc. and a Fellow with Hacking Health Montreal, described how technology can help break the silos in medical culture. “Today the time is right and change is inevitable. This is why wearables and m-healthcare technologies are so relevant now.”

DOT Inc. uses a brain-sensing headband to diagnose Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, and develops customized plans to help children with ADHD develop cognitive skills through interactive games.

The idea for DOT was born at a 48-hour event called WearHacks Hackathon, an event much like the innovation weekend Hacking Health Ottawa and CHEO will host as well. This innovation weekend will be the culmination of the series of events encouraging innovation in healthcare, with the goal to create beta prototypes to be used at CHEO.

“[DOT] went from a hackathon idea to doctors and neuroscientists being involved. The key is finding the right people,” said Khan. “Hacking Health is a great platform to connect you with like-minded people.”

Dr. Jordan Littman, a family physician practicing in Barrhaven, affirmed the importance of connecting with others. He spoke about his experience developing an app to synthesize information on the costs of medications, and encouraged attendees to learn from his experience.

“If I were to start all over, I would definitely want other people to work with me. This is why a platform like Hacking Health is so important,” Dr. Littman said. “I could have probably created this in a day if I had a developer work with me, but instead I learned how to code on my own. That was one of the struggles along the way, and realizing the value of having different people working on it with you.”

The event built on the enthusiasm from three previous Hacking Health Ottawa-CHEO events. Together, these events have brought together hundreds of people excited to innovate healthcare, and have started conversations on everything from disrupting health systems to healthcare problems that technology can begin to solve.

The same excitement was obvious at the Hub, too. “People are inspired and motivated, but more than anything they want to get down and dirty and actually build things!” said Haidee Thanda, one of the leads at Hacking Health Ottawa.

It was hard for some people to leave the event. Many lingered at the Hub long after the event officially ended, continuing the conversations and discussing the ideas sparked during the evening.

Fortunately, there will be more opportunities to keep the conversations going. Whatever your interest in healthcare or innovation, if you would like to be invited to future events, including our next event, sign up for our mailing list.