In communications, we have become accustomed to an ever-changing technology landscape. Newer, faster, more personalized channels and approaches to sharing news, stories and connections are becoming available virtually every day. I mean, I can barely remember life before the Facebook “like.” But have you ever wondered exactly how we got here?

One tactic helping to drive the rapid pace of technology innovation (including the epic Facebook “like”), the hackathon, is now emerging in healthcare. While many still assume innovation in healthcare must come with high costs and lengthy timelines, health hackathons across the country are proving meaningful, executable ideas can be developed in a weekend.

Praised by publications like Wired, Slate and the Wall Street Journal, hackathons are turning up at a number of leading organizations including New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Perhaps the most advanced is MIT’s Hacking Medicine initiative. MIT has hosted more than 20 events worldwide addressing a range of topics from diabetes to rare diseases to breast-feeding.

Of course the complex challenges faced in medicine require more than three days worth of thinking, but the ideas emerging from hackathons are providing the foundation for novel solutions like PillPack and Smart Scheduling. They are also helping to raise the visibility of participants and sponsors without the need for large financial or time investments. Hackathons – dishing out potentially game-changing innovation across the globe – may just be the future of medicine.



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