Check out the following interview with Hacking Health (@hackinghealthca) team member Shreya Tekriwal (@ShreyaT), and don’t forget to register for the first ever Hacking Health Hamilton event taking place April 25th – April 27th at Mohawk College!
Tell me about yourself.
I graduated in 2012 from Western University with a business degree and am looking to start law school in September. While I was working at a local tech startup, I happened to volunteer for Hacking Healthâ€™s first event in Toronto. I was absolutely mesmerized by everything that happened that weekend and really enjoyed working with Hacking Healthâ€™s co-founders, Jeeshan Chowdhury, Dominic Savoie and Luc Sirois. Since then, Iâ€™ve been doing anything and everything I can to help grow this movement.
What can you tell us about Hacking Health Hamilton?
Hacking Health Hamilton is a weekend-long hackathon focused on bringing innovation to healthcare. We want to bring healthcare professionals together with technologists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, patient representatives and other stakeholders to not only identify the various problems in healthcare but to also develop ways in which we can remedy them using technology.
Why are you bringing Hacking Health to Hamilton?
The idea of bringing Hacking Health to Hamilton came about when David Kemper, our lead organizer in Hamilton, approached us. With the help of some awesome volunteers, the local team organized a Hacking Health Cafe held at the Innovation Factory back in October. The event was very well attended and it was clear that Hamilton had a thriving health-tech community. Hamilton is also home to Apps for Health and when Duane Bender proposed joining forces to bring a weekend full of innovation to the community, it was really a no-brainer.
Where and when is the event, and how can people register for it?
The weekend-long hackathon will be held on April 25-27, 2014 at Mohawk College. Weâ€™re collaborating with Apps for Health and Startup Weekend Hamilton to make this a very exciting weekend, full of innovation for those in and around Hamilton.
You can find out more about HH Hamilton and register through our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
How did you become interested in health tech?
It was actually quite random and not at all planned. After graduation, I happened to grab coffee with the founder of a local design and development studio, which was really the first time I got into tech. About 4-5 months into my job, I ended up volunteering at Hacking Health Toronto in 2012 and that was my first time getting involved in anything health-tech. It may sound cheesy but Iâ€™d been trying to find something I truly felt passionate about – Hacking Health and health tech filled that gap for me.
Why did you start organizing Hacking Health?
I remember asking one of Hacking Healthâ€™s founders this same question and hereâ€™s what he said: hackers love to solve problems and healthcare has plenty to go around.
However, there was a problem that prevented innovation in healthcare. Healthcare professionals and technologists remained in silos. Lots of clinicians had ideas but didnâ€™t have the right skills set or know the technologists who could turn these ideas into reality. That is essentially why Hacking Health came around – to foster the much needed collaboration. All stakeholders needed to be involved in building a solution right from the beginning and that really wasnâ€™t happening before.
Where have Hacking Health events taken place so far?
We started in Montreal and have now organized events in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, London (ON), Hamilton, Cape Town (South Africa), Stockholm (Sweden), Strasbourg and Paris (France). Weâ€™ve got teams in Saskatoon, Calgary, New York City, Boston, Hong Kong, Whitehorse, Berlin, Zurich, Bucharest (and many more) working towards organizing events in 2014. A full list of upcoming events can be found here.
What are some of the most interesting health tech solutions that have been developed at Hacking Health events?
I could never pick the most interesting one – theyâ€™re all so different and so uniquely interesting in their own way. What we find amazing is the variety of solutions that are developed and the people who drive them. Theyâ€™re not just software solutions but also hardware. Hacking Health Strasbourg even had an animal health project! The project leaders arenâ€™t always healthcare professionals or technologists either – one of our successful projects was driven by a team of social workers in Toronto. A glimpse of past projects and some of our success stories can be found here.
Why should people attend Hacking Health?
I think the reasons vary from person to person. Hacking Health events provide participants with the opportunity to make a difference, to learn new skills and to meet some amazing people in the community who you wouldnâ€™t interact with otherwise. Many others join us because theyâ€™re looking to validate their idea and this is a very easy, cost-effective way of doing so.
What can attendees expect at Hacking Health Hamilton?
Attendees can expect to step outside of their comfort zones and learn how to communicate and work with individuals from completely different backgrounds as themselves. The whole weekend is so full of activity! It starts off with pitches on Friday night and ends with demos on Sunday afternoon and itâ€™s amazing how much teams can accomplish over a weekend.
You can also check out some of the videos from our past hackathons!
How can the community help you make Hacking Health Hamilton a success?
Tell your friends about Hacking Health Hamilton and bring at least five people along with you! Other than that, itâ€™s really about keeping the conversation going. Weâ€™re always looking for volunteers and leaders in the community to join forces with so if youâ€™re interested, definitely get in touch!