Sneak Preview of the 2018 Cleveland Medical Hackathon The Challenge: Chronic Disease Management

When tech solutions are needed, all voices are welcome. The Cleveland Medical Hackathon is designed to attract fresh faces and new voices to tackle some of the most challenging problems in healthcare.  

“Much of what we solve inside big healthcare systems like Cleveland Clinic or University Hospitals is created in a vacuum within our own organizations,” says Matt McBride, Director of Business Development at Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI), the commercialization arm of Cleveland Clinic. “This hackathon is different. It takes us outside of that and allows us to collaborate with others. A lot of individuals show up not knowing who they’ll partner with as they try to solve a problem. It’s like speed dating – they have to work together to push a solution forward.”

Complete with all-night pizza and sleeping bags, the Cleveland Medical Hackathon aims to inspire innovation through intense focus and teamwork. The hackathon is organized by Cleveland Clinic, HIMSS, Metro Health, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, BioEnterprise, and FlashStarts.

Hosted at the HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center, the Cleveland Medical Hackathon is purposely scheduled for the weekend of October 20 – 21, 2018 just before the Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit (MIS) held Oct. 22-24. Winners will be celebrated at the MIS Startup Showcase on the opening Monday morning, providing them exposure to healthcare executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders with a passion for improving healthcare through innovation.

“The mission of Cleveland Clinic Innovations is to cultivate and bring new ideas to the bedside, to expand patient care with new technology,” says Charles Steiner, CCI’s Technology Development Director. “What’s missing is a recognition that truly entrepreneurial ideas start at the collegiate and high school level. The Cleveland Medical Hackathon aims to give them an access point to the field of medical innovation.”

The hackathon is open to anyone with a passion for using technology to solve the pressing issues facing healthcare today, including physicians, entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts, students and investors.

Hacking Away at Chronic Disease Management

Like hackathons before it, the 4th annual Cleveland Medical Hackathon has a specific challenge. This year, the theme is chronic disease management. But that’s just a general concept. Participants won’t learn the specifics of the challenge or the data available to them until they arrive – giving them just 24 to 36 hours to hack away at solutions.

“In the tradition of a hackathon, you’re expected to demonstrate your abilities on-site, by collaborating at the event,” says Steiner. “We don’t want to reward folks already invested in this challenge for years. We want to measure an innovator’s ability to develop a solution onsite. You may not get a cure for cancer, but we can see someone’s ability to develop something on the spot. That’s the skill set we want to celebrate.”

This year’s hackathon is a paradigm shift from the past, where “pre-work” or already-developed concepts and pre-formed teams were allowed at the competition. “We’re going to see a different slice of the inventor population this year,” says McBride. “It takes a special hacker to create something in 24 to 36 hours.”

Building awareness of problems in healthcare

The HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center partners with the Cleveland Medical Hackathon to help build awareness around tough challenges in healthcare. Last year’s hackathon focused on precision medicine, public health and wellness, and the opioid epidemic.

“The hackathon attracts people with amazing development skills,” says Leslie Evans, Director of the HIMSS Innovation & Conference Center. “They get a taste of what healthcare is facing today and develop a better understanding of how they can use their skills to help solve big problems.  This is an introduction, then hopefully, they’ll go off and do deeper work around this year’s issue of chronic disease management.”

Hacker resources: Google Cloud, Epic Sandbox, HIMSS Data

This year’s hackers have better tools than ever – with exciting new resources for them to use in developing software solutions. “Participants will have access to the Google Cloud platform, data from HIMSS Analytics, as well as the Epic sandbox with on-site representatives for support and mentoring,” says Meg Mason, Coordinator of Strategic Marketing for CCI.

“Hackers will get access to the tools that matter,” says Charles Steiner. “Much of the innovation in patient care is flowing through Electronic Medical Record platforms. Having access data and to this sandbox allows these innovators to tailor and trial their ideas in a real-world environment -- and Google provides a lot of back-end analytics. If an entrepreneur can leverage these three, they have a huge opportunity.”

Cleveland Clinic Innovations is excited to expand their network and support fresh ideas that come from the hackathon. “We’re always looking at things with a bit of a commercialization skew,” says Matt McBride. “We can provide mentoring during and after the hackathon that can help these inventors shore up the business side of things and open up their eyes to that.”

Partnering with HIMSS

The Cleveland Clinic Innovations team sees HIMSS as the perfect partner. “HIMSS is an expert in this domain. They help us feel the pulse of the healthcare IT industry and make the right connections with people who translate ideas into something of value,” says McBride.

Get more information and register here for the Cleveland Medical Hackathon.