By Rebecca E. Jones
Health care innovators will join students from multiple universities and disciplines at the VCU School of Engineering Nov. 4-5, 2017, for HealthHacks 2017. Pediatric and global health issues are the focus of this second-year intense problem-solving and prototyping event. The anticipated 160 student participants will be supported by physicians and clinicians, engineering faculty and industry mentors.
“HealthHacks is a rapid-paced participatory event for students of all disciplines to engage with medical professionals in development and prototyping of solutions for unmet needs in patient care. It is a very exciting 24-hour engagement event,” said L. Franklin Bost, M.B.A., I.D.S.A., executive associate dean for innovation and outreach, director of the VCU Institute for Engineering and Medicine and faculty in the Department of Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering.
Similar in structure to computer-coding focused hackathons, HealthHacks is a design sprint where student teams develop proposed solutions for unmet medical needs that are presented by medical practitioners. Multidisciplinary student teams from engineering, arts, business and medicine will tackle problems in three major categories: A) product innovation, B) improving care and C) patient experience.
Brandon Gaston, a second-year medical student, and Joshna Seelam, a senior in biomedical engineering, are the student leaders for HealthHacks 2017. The event is supported by the Atlantic Pediatric Device Consortium, VCU Institute for Engineering and Medicine, Anthem, ABS Technologiesy, Padilla, Startship, Spark Product Development and others.
HealthHacks begins with real unmet needs or problems pitched by medical stakeholders. Groups of students take on these challenges and, 24 caffeine-fueled hours later, present working prototypes to a panel of judges. Solution prototypes will take many forms including Solidworks® CAD concepts, 3D-printed designs, new health care smartphone apps, computer programs or designs improvements on existing medical devices. VCU physicians, faculty and staff, along with industry professionals from fields including medical device manufacturing and product design, will be on-hand for technical guidance and helping troubleshooting concepts.
The focus on pediatrics and global health care leverages two areas where VCU is a growing presence. VCU is active in the Atlantic Pediatric Device Consortium, one of eight pediatric device consortia funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to provide support services to inventors of technologies that aid in the diagnosis, treatment and care of pediatric patients. The 2016 School of Engineering annual magazine highlighted research and product development in health care issues across all of five engineering disciplines.
HealthHacks 2017 takes place in VCU School of Engineering East Hall (401 W. Main St.). It opens with registration on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, at 9 a.m. and concludes with judging on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. and the awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Full schedule, advanced registration, and details available at the HealthHacks website.