Wednesday, June 28, 2017

UC Health Hack Expands Opportunities for Students, Builds Partnerships for the Future

By Jacquelyn Lim  

A few months after UC Health Hack 2017, organizers are still buzzing from the success of the hackaton's first partnerships with Southern California health institutions- UC San Diego Health, UC Irvine Heath and Rady's Children's Hospital- prompting event coordinators to start planning early for the annual event next year.

Health Hack was hosted in 2015 and 2016 solely by Engineering World Health (EWH)- the UCSD chapter of a nationally-backed organization dedicated to improving medical health and living standards in underdeveloped communities around the world.

This year was the biggest yet.

New partnerships with the three health systems doubled the amount of participants of what the event had previously.  It provided the opportunity for engineering and medical students to collaborate for the first time, to address the mission of EWH and current problems within partnered institutions.

The results were creative and innovative solutions to this year's most pressing topics: refugee healthcare, healthy aging, home care, and patient experience.

"We already had participation from UC Berkeley and are looking to partner with UCSF, UCLA and all of the other UCs next year," said Tracy Magee, Integrative Health Coordinator and Systems Information Project Manager.

Student prototypes thrilled event organizers, health experts and industry professionals.

"It's been a week and we are surprised, so impressed, we are deciding on where to go from here," Magee said.

Participants were divided into two tracks over two days to keep teams organized.  

One was the Integrative Health Systems Track, where teams developed solutions for domestic problems in clinical settings. The other was the Global Health Track, where teams developed solutions for international public health issues.

First, second and third place prizes were awarded to teams in both tracks after a panel of judges- experts in health and industry leaders- decided which prototypes stood out. Team members are awarded mentorship from the Von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center and are given lab space from the Pepper House, two incubators involved in the event.

Winning teams from the Integrative Health Systems Track will be able to apply their prototypes to in UC San Diego’s and UC Irvine’s health systems immediately, which is the next step in enhancing their projects.

“They will be able to incorporate items that are built into the UCSD and UCI health systems and will try real-world solutions to these problems already, that we see in our institutions; in Thornton and Jacobs Medical Centers,” said Magee.

Off the Wall, the team placing first in the Integrative Health Systems Track, created a project called "Incentivizing Patient Mobility Through Augmented Reality Art Therapy," which helps reduce delayed discharge and lack of mobility of inpatients using mobile technology to connect them to art. The pilot study was done at Jacobs Medical Center.

Global Health Track winning teams will also have the opportunity to further work on their prototypes.

“ Our goal is to ensure that the projects that are developed during UC Health Hack are pursued beyond the weekend,” said Niranjanaa Jeeva, EWH Health Hack Co-Director.

Awesome, the team placing first in the Global Health Track created a project called "Blueprints for Life: Design Solutions for Refugee Health," where international refugee communities lacking basic needs are connected to engineers through a website, to create blueprints for local infrastructure.  

In addition to having more participants, the hackathon drew larger sponsorships from leading companies.

“Amazon Web Service and Epic, were two proprietary software companies that got involved this year and we are wanting to expand the numbers of companies and incubators that get involved [next year],” said Magee.

EWH coordinators are identifying  goals they want to reach next year and plans have already taken shape. Jeeva says the event gained significant exposure this year and organizers are working on leveraging what was gained into the coming year.

" We want participants from all over California to come and attend. We will be aiming for over 500 participants!"

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