Hacking for Better Health

Hacking for Better Health Design

First published on Australian Hospital + Healthcare Bulletin – August 7th, 2015

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi  on Unsplash


What is a hackathon? “Hacking” is the (legal) process of creative problem solving. A hackathon is an event where people come together to collaboratively solve problems, often using software or other technologies. You might have heard it described as a hackday or a codefest.

What happens at a hackathon?
Participants typically form teams of 2-5 people, gather their laptops, and work on finding solutions to a problem. The event might run for a few hours or a whole weekend. Often participants compete for prizes, either as money, goods or simply prestige.

The problems may be predefined or brainstormed at the start of the event. The focus is on usually centred around iterative prototyping and innovative solutions.

A hackathon can be a platform for people to show off their skills, launch new research projects, seek alternative opinions on an existing problem, or simply grow and fertilise the community.

This model has been so successful that in recent years, companies such as Commonwealth Bank, Realestate.com.au and Fairfax Media have begun holding internal, external and mixed hackathons. These are used as a way to kickstart innovation or connect staff from different areas. Prizes range from ‘tech toys’ such as Chromecasts to tens of thousands of dollars.

The outputs may not always see the light of day, but they’re always valuable.

So, what sort of a hackathon is HealthHack?
HealthHack is a weekend hackathon designed to address some of the problems faced by the Australian health sector. It brings together biomedical researchers, clinicians, bioinformaticians, software developers, data analysts, designers, storytellers, and graphic artists…