Karachi, August 12, 2016: AKU’s first-ever Hackathon brings together a variety of experts to solve pressing problems in the city’s emergency room facilities.
A hospital’s Emergency Room (ER) is often the first point of call for citizens when a terrorist attack, disaster or public health outbreak hits Karachi.
Hence the challenges arising from the city and even the country’s unpredictable law and order situation, infrastructure failings and resource shortages are acutely felt in the ER as medical staff rush to treat a surge of patients facing life-threatening conditions.
To find innovative solutions to these daily challenges, the Aga Khan University is hosting a three-day medical hackathon. The event, from August 13-15, will see professionals from all walks of life, nurses, doctors, businessmen, engineers and designers, pool together their knowledge and ideas to find unique solutions to issues facing emergency departments in Pakistan.
More than 100 participants and 25 mentors, divided into multiple teams, will ‘hack’ or find quick solutions to medical challenges. One of the speakers is Dr Junaid Razzak, who was the head of Aga Khan University Hospital’s Emergency Room and led the development of Aman Foundation’s emergency medical services.
Regarding the need for a medical hackathon, Dr Razzak said: “Traditionally, healthcare systems are hierarchical, risk averse and slow to change. While there are many benefits to this traditional approach, the lack of innovation, especially in environments with few resources, have not delivered positive healthcare outcomes for the majority of people.”
“I believe that solving the challenges of healthcare for countries like Pakistan is possible through innovation. I am excited that a group at AKU has taken the key first steps to organise and recognise non-traditional thinking to solve key health challenges. This has the potential to fundamentally change the discussion around approaches to healthcare systems.”
Throughout the event, mentors – veterans from various professional fields from business to IT to medicine – will share their experience of solving problems with participants.
After two days of fast-paced work, the hackathon will conclude with presentations to a panel of judges, presenting concrete, sustainable solutions suited to low to middle income countries such as Pakistan. The panel will assess ideas worth being funded and launched.
Speaking about the event, Dr Asad Mian, associate professor at the Department of Emergency Medicine at AKU said: “Hackathons are full of energy, drive and enthusiasm. I was inspired by Hacking Medicine’s event at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the drive and enthusiasm of participants to address and solve healthcare problems of global significance.
“MIT’s Grand Hack 2016 was delightfully different. Therefore, with MIT’s constant support and feedback, our team is now hosting the first-ever medical hackathon at AKU. We hope to improve lives through ‘hacking’ medicine in a manner that is critical, creative, innovative, and above all, resourceful.”