Healthcare-focused “hackathon” events have become more and more popular over the hackathon iconyears, as digital apps developers have been able to apply their skills to solving some of the most intractable problems of healthcare.  In the DC metro area, there’s an upcoming 36-hour event to build apps for patients with PTSD.  In downtown Cleveland, a Medical Hackathon focused on big data is being held later this month.  I recently came across an article about the upcoming hackathon in Cleveland, and what this unique phenomenon in the field of medical informatics means.  The author spoke to several IT execs with the Cleveland Clinic, which serves as one of the lead partners in the event.

James Krouse of Nesco Resource, which is sponsoring the event in Cleveland, said that one goal of hackathons is to engender “unlikely conversations”; this means parties coming together that normally wouldn’t be in the same room.  While the city of Cleveland has been marked by poverty and struggle in earlier years, it now has a blossoming startup culture.  Krouse hopes that people coming together for the hackathon will help make connections that will help that startup culture grow even more.  William Morris, the associate chief information officer at Cleveland Clinic, agreed that hackathons are about establishing a “community”.  He added that health systems have been participating in these events because they have a direct need: to deliver higher-quality care at a lower cost, and technology has the potential to play a huge role in that.  He also said that it would give people the chance to turn data into knowledge through aggregating and managing data into knowledge by aggregating and managing data from wearables, sensors and activity monitors.

Beth Meese, the administrative director of technology and innovations at Cleveland Clinic, said that a hackathon allows people to see their clinical ideas developed and become part of an organization.  Clinical teams often don’t have an idea where to take ideas they want to be developed, so seeing something get developed paves the way for more innovation in the future.  Meese pointed out that there’s a startup mentality within the hospital systems, as people look to augment products and integrate them to address challenges within the healthcare system.

The Cleveland Medical Hackathon is being held on September 26 and 27 at the HIMSS Global Center for Health Innovation, and is free to attend and participate in, although you need to fill out an application first.  You can find the application at the Cleveland Medical Hackathon site.