February 14, 2013
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently concluded its Health and Wellness Innovation 2013.This 11-day event, better known as MIT Media Lab's Health and Wellness Hackathon, is a program in which "hackers" seek ways to work with established companies in the healthcare sector to help bring about needed change. Engineering and medical faculty and students -- together with companies such as Humana, Novartis, and Pharmiweb Solutions -- worked to construct commercially ready products using MIT Media Lab's open-source CollaboRhythm platform and open standards.
According to Dr. John Moore, organizer of the hackathon, the program by itself cannot make change, but it provides an opportunity to expose important groups such as pharmaceutical companies, insurers, medical diagnostics companies, startup entrepreneurs, and consumer electronics companies to what is available and to the value of using and contributing to the platforms. Moore contends that it is not often that these different groups converge, but now that they have met they can collaborate, which will hopefully result in big innovations when they see how they can benefit each other. One requirement was participants had to use open-source software, including the MIT-developed Indivo X personalized heath records system for building health trackers and other digital health tools to foster interoperability.
The six teams met from January 22 to February 1, and each developed its own products. Developed products included hiVIVA, a gaming app that helps individuals with HIV/AIDS remember to take their medications; and Beacon, an open-source variation on the home hub for capture and transmission of data from wireless, home-based sensors and medical devices for monitoring patients with congestive heart failure.