Over three days, some 250 participants came together to form 26 teams dedicated to collaboration, innovation and the creation of solutions to some of healthcare’s most pressing problems. The University’s third Health Hack differed from typical “hackathons,” as students and professionals from all backgrounds and industries came together to pitch apps, prototypes and business concepts in three distinct tracks: Healthcare with No Address, Wearables and Data Science, and Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp.
Judges—a mix of University staff and external experts in their respective fields—awarded one grand-prize-winning team in each track $5,000. Judges considered originality and creativity of the idea, progress made from concept to prototype, and the potential of the idea to one day influence or become a product.
“The Health Hack fostered a melding of perspectives—that’s the core of radical innovation,” said Rose Ritts, MS, PhD, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). “Teams brought together health and med thinkers with programmers and design thinkers, along with students, patients and community members. It’s incredible what can happen in 48 hours of nonstop creativity.”
Healthcare with No Address winners Adam Hecht, Victor Hsue and Mark Keroles developed HoruScope, a home ophthalmoscope optimized for telehealth visits. The device would assist with interventions for prevalent chronic conditions that often impact the eye. “A lot of systemic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, affect the eye early on, so early detection can make a difference,” Keroles said. Hsue and Keroles are third-year medical students at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and Hecht is an industrial design senior in the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce.
The winning team in the Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp track, Convey, dreamt up an app that would better share information with medicinal cannabis patients. It would aggregate information about cannabis strains, products and dispensaries and help match the best products with patients, depending on their condition. They hope to further develop the app to include feedback from patients so that the app “grows” to provide better suggestions. Team member Hayden Hughes, just a senior at Sterling High School in New Jersey, was inspired to pitch thanks to a friend who had attended Jefferson’s recent JAZ Tank: CannaVATION. The team also included Annaya Ahmand, a Jefferson psychology student; Anthony Allen, David Rehmat Jr., Chris Curotto and Daniel Hoffens, all developers and engineers; and guest observing student Tyree Robinson of Camden County Technical School.
In the Wearables and Data Science track, the grand prize went to CytoCosmic, a team with an interest in outer space. Elizabeth Hall, a professor at Stockton University; Samir Khan, a neuroengineer; James Chun, a UX designer; Hui Min Tan, a bioengineering student from Singapore; and Christine Fisher, a PhD candidate in immunology and microbial pathogenesis at Jefferson, designed a wearable patch that monitors the immune system. Imagined for tracking immunoglobulin levels of astronauts in space, the device also could be used in telehealth applications for patients on Earth. “Sixty miles above us in space, there’s an astronaut who needs to have their immune system monitored,” said Khan, whose team would like to pursue development in hopes that NASA may be interested. “Equally, 60 miles west of us in rural Pennsylvania, there are average patients who need the same.”