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Breakthoughs, New Ideas and Innovation Galore at SingHealth Hackathon 2017


Dr Serene Thain

The first-ever SingHealth Hackathon, initiated by two SingHealth Residents, Dr Cheong May Anne and Dr Rena Dharmawan, was held on 21 and 22 January 2017 at Academia. This event attracted more than 50 professionals from multiple disciplines across various healthcare groups and medical students, to brainstorm new ideas and innovations to improve our patient care systems.

The SingHealth Hackathon focused on three challenges:

  1. Coordination: Exploring how to better connect and facilitate timely sharing of patient information among the healthcare teams caring for the patients;
  2. Communication: Finding better ways to communicate with patients and their families to help them understand their condition and treatments and, 
  3. Rehabilitation: Conceiving better methods to help patients get back on their feet.

“Hackathon is a good place to meet people from different background and hear their perspectives. As medical students, we interact mostly with our mentors,” said Sneha Sharma, a Year 1 Medical Student from Duke-NUS, and a participant at the SingHealth Hackathon. “Throughout this two day event, I have interacted with several healthcare professionals, namely allied health professionals and administrators, to learn about the problems they are experiencing."

Over the two days, participants discussed issues in healthcare, presented innovative solutions, and developed prototypes and ideas. SingHealth Hackathon brought a spectrum of healthcare stakeholders under one roof. The convergence of brilliant minds saw many innovative ideas and solutions being pitched. SingHealth Residency congratulates the three teams who emerged winners, and the two teams who received consolation prizes.

Meet the Winners of SingHealth Hackathon:

Move It

Challenge: Rehabilitation

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Move It created a fun and interactive game using a wearable device to motivate rehabilitation patients to practice their daily physiotherapy exercises. The team wanted to create a tool that would address the challenges that Physiotherapists face daily: how to encourage mobility in patients, prevent falls and aid the discharge of patients with lower-limb conditions.

“Our team reaped the benefits of diversity and wanted a chance to explore ideas,” said Derek. “We really enjoyed coming up with the solutions and bouncing ideas off each other. The brain-storming segment was enjoyable and we could see how creative everyone was.” 

Communicating Healthcare, Integrating Technology (CHIT)

Challenge: Co-ordination

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The use of WhatsApp, phone calls and short message service (SMS) messages are not secure messaging medium for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to discuss patient information. Further, these means of communication could lead to patient identification error. CHIT found the solution by devising an app that displays a patient’s name and history, organises team communications around a dedicated chat room for an individual patient, and enables secure communications.

CHIT hopes to inspire more healthcare professionals to develop healthcare technologies that make a positive impact on patient management. “Hackathon has helped us realise that we not alone in our frustrations, and that we are in the midst of like-minded, motivated people who we can collaborate to improve tomorrow’s healthcare” Anthony said, adding: “Being aware of the problems and shortcomings of the healthcare system is a huge step towards finding a solution that will benefit patient care.”

Easy Med

Challenge: Communication

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If you have several conditions requiring medication, it can be a challenge keeping track of what medicine to take, as well as when to take them. Patients and caregivers who find themselves in similar circumstances may sometimes not understand the purpose of the medicine, and not take them as prescribed. Easy Med seeks to ‘Make Medications Simple Again’. It is a simple, personal, secure and multilingual phone application that helps users and their caregivers record and manage their medication.

At SingHealth, an organisation with rich history, time is required to understand the nitty-gritties of the healthcare system. Hackathon offered not only the way to refine the system, but also an opportunity to meet like-minded people. “My biggest take away is a change in mindset,” said Chinmaya. “There are many things beyond our control and sometimes it becomes necessary to accept limitations and proceed to the next patient. We owe it to our patients and colleagues to go further; some do so by participating in scientific research to figure out how to treat disease better, others by addressing the systems involved in delivering that care.”