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SingHealth Hackathon 2019

All Hands on Deck For the Hackathon​

The SingHealth Hackathon 2019, an event initiated and led by SingHealth Residency's Residents' Committee, saw the highest number of 80 participants – including medical students and interprofessional healthcare staff, coming together to brainstorm and co-create healthcare solutions. Organised in February this year, the two-day event, saw a total of 15 new solutions being generated in a bid to help patients and the community to Keep Well, Get Well and Age Well.

From the winning pitch to obtain funding for the event, to reviewing the first draft of marketing materials, and producing a successful comedic publicity video and finally to watching the sign ups stream in, was the culmination of a lot of hard work. INSIGHT takes you behind-the-scenes as we speak to the Co-Chairs of the SingHealth Hackathon 2019, Dr Chinmaya Shrikant Joshi, Emergency Medicine Resident and Dr Jaydeesh Khanna K B, Internal Medicine Resident.



1.    Congratulations on organising a successful Hackathon event! What is the biggest challenge you faced in planning the event?

Dr Chinmaya:  Interestingly, I thought that my biggest challenge when planning the Hackathon would be juggling my commitments, such as clinical work, exams and leadership responsibilities.

However, my biggest challenge was having to reject some ideas in the interest of scope and resources. On one hand, because the Hackathon is a creative endeavour, we wanted to include every idea and to have a rich diversity of ideas as we brainstormed with the event's theme. On the other hand, resources were limited and we had to make decisions to focus on certain problems, at the exclusion of others.

Dr Jaydeesh: To me, my biggest challenge was to publicise this event to Residents and beyond, such as medical students, and other clinical and non-clinical staff.

The success of a Hackathon depends on the publicity and bringing participants from different backgrounds together to generate ideas. Publicity was required across multiple channels, and we even created a comedic video to improve engagement of potential participants. Despite the challenges, we managed to get a higher number of participants to join the event this year!


2.    List 3 key takeaways from your Hackathon experience.

Dr Chinmaya:

i. Being a leader is a lot like being a "parent" to your team.

Just like nurturing a child, leading a team entails heavy responsibilities. You want to hand hold them yet it is impossible to always be with your "child" or team because you have finite time and energy and there are factors that you have limited control over (e.g. personal agency, external circumstances). Ultimately, there is a need to know when to let go and empower others to own their specific areas.

ii. A good leader is ready and willing to get deep into the trenches. 
Good leadership doesn't just happen by instructing from the top, there is also a need to be on the ground, caring for the details. This could range from telling a designer to move the logo on a poster 5mm to the left, to getting uncomfortable as the main actor of a humorous publicity video. 

iii. A tactical leader knows how to be supportive but not overbearing. 
As an Emergency Medicine Physician, I am trained to do what I can to minimise suffering and stress of both patients and fellow colleagues. This could be allowing staff to exercise judgement without getting in their way, helping to progress things but not taking over the "show", or even supporting in the non-medical tasks like volunteering to do a coffee run. 

Dr Jaydeesh:

i. Interprofessional discussions contribute to refining solutions.
Being a physician in training, the Hackathon helped me realise the importance of working as an interprofessional team to address our current healthcare problems. My view has also been broadened by hearing perspectives from the various professions, which is imperative as we venture beyond the familiarity of the hospital walls to deliver care to the community. 

ii. Ideas don't have to stay in the mind, they can move from concept to prototype. 
We often imagine solutions but don't actualise them. As I had the opportunity to be a participant in the Hackathon on top of my role as a co-chair, I have learnt how to transform my ideas into reality. Meeting other participants also allowed me to engage in the atmosphere of buzzing innovation, as we exchanged ideas and refined those ideas we had conceived. 

iii. Working with different stakeholders will improve your communication knowledge. 
In organising the Hackathon, I gained my first experience to work with various stakeholders. Through it all, I have gained a better understanding of how to communicate with other healthcare professionals and administrators.



3.    What would you tell our readers who are interested in attending the next SingHealth Hackathon?

Dr Chinmaya: Innovation is an integral component of the Hackathon. This involves questioning the status quo, which runs contrary to the way healthcare revolves around following instructions and guidelines, so that we do the right thing for our patients.

Thus if you are keen to join the Hackathon, ask yourself how can you rally your organisation to be more conducive for innovation.

Dr Jaydeesh: More than winning the prize, participating in this event itself gives plenty of experience in materialising your ideas. If you have an innovative idea that aims to make a difference in patients' lives, I encourage you to take the first time in realising this idea by joining the next Hackathon.


Hear From Student Participants​

"My experience at the Hackathon was enriching as I got to meet people from diverse backgrounds. Through the interactions with my team mates, I've learnt to be bold in sharing my ideas and flexible in allowing their perspectives to shape mine.


In retrospect, I would liken the Hackathon to a Transformer! It starts out as something seemingly ordinary, but when all its parts come together, it becomes something extraordinary.

Shawn Ng, Medical Student, Duke-NUS Medical School

​"While I am pursuing business analytics, I've always had a keen interest in the medical field. Thus, I readily agreed to join the Hackathon when a friend asked me along.

The Hackathon has given my team mates and I a platform to develop and refine the concept of our ideas. From this event, I've become more aware of the rising issues in the healthcare sector and am glad to potentially be part of the solution.

Tan Xue Hui, Business Analytics Student, National University of Singapore