I have been answering one question a lot lately. Nope, not, “Nurse, can I get a sandwich?” The question of the year so far is, “What the heck is a Hackathon?” I’m also guessing a few people reading this are now asking, “And why are we talking about it in the ACEP14 Daily News?”
I will get to the why in a minute, but first let’s talk about the what.
Medical Hackathons are everywhere these days. I’m in Massachusetts, and Boston is a hot spot of medical innovation thanks to the incredible density of universities and hospitals. To me, it seems like new Hackathons pop up every other month. So what are they? Medical Hackathons are high-intensity, short-duration collaborative sessions to solve real-world medical issues. Hundreds of clinicians, software and hardware developers, engineers, and entrepreneurs gather for a caffeine-fueled weekend of brainstorming, software and hardware development, process development, and more. It’s a nerdy Burning Man, if you will, without the nudity or hallucinogens (sorry).
Recent Hackathon teams have developed custom 3-D printed rings that allow at-home cardiac risk assessment, emotive teddy bears to reduce the need for opioid medications in
pediatric patients, a service to help patients take medications exactly as prescribed, and an app based on facial metrics to help in diagnosing genetic syndromes remotely. Pretty amazing stuff, right?
The first EM Hackathon will be held in Chicago the weekend before ACEP14 and will take place at 1871 at 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza. Along with grand sponsor Allscripts, the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association, Chicago Health 2.0, and MIT’s H@cking Medicine, ACEP is hosting the first EM-focused Hackathon Oct. 24–26. Winning teams will receive cash prizes, exposure at ACEP14, and more.
Before the Hackathon itself, we ask the clinical EM community to share its ideas and gripes to help generate relevant problems for the teams to address. Of course, we also want to encourage everyone to take part in the Hackathon itself. You do not need to have a team or any prior Hackathon experience. Bring your clinical experience and interest—we would love to see you there!
Dr. Alyeska is a resident emergency physician at the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.