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Innovation
What I Learned from the Health Tech Hackathon


Brilliant professors, innovative industry mentors, and passionate multidiscipline students (technologists, doctors, pharmacists, financial and business analysts). The Health Tech Hackathon hosted by Cornell Tech and MIT recently enabled this diverse population of individuals to pull their energy and creativity together to tackle real, everyday healthcare needs.

Half the battle of a hackathon, or any startup, is defining and refining the problem or need—and in healthcare, the list of problems is growing as rapidly as the solutions we invent. As a technologist captivated by the healthcare industry I see the potential in cooperative events such as Cornell and MIT’s annual Health Tech Hackathon.

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A group of Health Tech Hackathon mentors and volunteers

In a matter of 36 hours this event provided a unique benefit to over 300 participants—a student identified a new healthcare issue (and even the beginnings of a solution), a mentor volunteered his or her technical skills in an impactful way, a sponsor reestablished a connection to why the healthcare industry is a valuable and exciting place to work.

Healthcare is a broad term and the ideas we witnessed that weekend dove into many facets of it: precision medicine, timely access to prescriptions, transparency between patients and physicians, automating tasks which derail a physician from fully engaging with their patient, improving medication adherence, tackling public health issues with medication abuse … And the list goes on.

In total these interdisciplinary teams identified twenty-two problems and twenty-two solutions to improve the lives of people like you and I. Vetted by a panel of judges, including Johnson & Johnson’s Jeff Mathers, Senior Director Global Software Engineering, the top 10 finalists and selected winners are available at https://healthhack2016.splashthat.com/.

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We realized quickly in sponsoring and engaging in this event these students and our company, we share a bond. At Johnson & Johnson we use technology every day to transform people’s lives and make a positive impact on healthcare worldwide.

In order to do this we must understand the people we serve and the challenges they face. Engaging in this community event we learned as much from the students as they did from us. As consumers of healthcare ourselves, we learn and experience challenges in healthcare every day and at Johnson & Johnson our technologists are making important connections, internally and externally, to leverage technology to solve these challenges.