Hamilton marks 150th hackathon milestone for Hacking Health

When Hacking Health started in 2012 in Montreal, it would have been inconceivable that seven years later, it would have orchestrated 150 hackathon events. It will be the 58th Hacking Health hackathon in Canada across 18 cities since 2012.

The academic institutions of Hamilton and the synergistic network of facilities make it an ideal place to host this 150th Hackathon. Join us at McMaster Innovation Park on November 8-10.

Hacking Health TorontoHamilton marks 150th hackathon milestone for Hacking Health
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HHQc, the Missing Link to Health Innovation in Quebec City

— Lire l’article original en Français

Hacking Health Quebec is considered as a mature chapter of the movement. Born in 2016, this chapter has already seen ups and downs and had to pivot – just like many startups born from the same movement – to meet the real needs of the ecosystem in Quebec City.

Way too many solutions are abandoned once the euphoria of the competition is over

It was during the strategic meeting of summer 2018 that we realized the evidence. Hackathons and Coopérathons are extraordinary events that allow prototyping an innovative solution to a real problem in healthcare, but … this is not enough. Too many of these solutions are abandoned once the euphoria of competition has passed. Most persevering teams face problems of cash flow, lack of knowledge of regulations of the health system, and also contacts in the community to validate their concept or find investors who will support their project. Incubator, investors, specialists of all kinds, all structures are already present, but do not often meet and speak together. The solution is in the community! We need to break silos and create connections between the different stakeholders of our ecosystem.

Our mission is clear:
Create a community to support health care innovation in Quebec City.

The Cooperathon kept us busy throughout fall, and we decided to start in February a series of meet-ups with different themes. In the form of a happy hour, we invite either a panel to debate around a topic, or experts to expose the latest trends in their field. Also, an entrepreneur is invited to present his innovative project in health care and exposes his/her struggles to the audience to get advice and contacts. We close with a networking session that allows everyone to meet and continue the discussion in a friendly atmosphere.

A series of meet-ups to bring the community together

The theme of the first meet-up was evident to us: since we want to support the projects born of our events, we need to invite previous project holders to come and share their experience and their learnings. We organized the Alumni Forum at Le Camp, an incubator / accelerator which is one of our partners. Four alumni immediately responded to our proposal: Kim Auclair (My Deafness project), Marie-Lou and Mathieu (Braver Health project), Schallum Pierre (Blockchain Citiz project) and Alain Larouche (ABC Santé project, now Concerto + of the Concerto Health group). The panel worked wonderfully, with Schallum Pierre in video conference from Montreal. Our audience was particularly interested in the journey of these entrepreneurs with a benevolent curiosity. All understood that everyone could make an impact by contributing with their experience and expertise.

The second meet-up took place in April, as part of the Digital Week in Quebec City. For the second consecutive year, the meeting was held at the Korrigane for a casual atmosphere around the theme “Concrete Practices of AI in Healthcare.” Then, Julie Bastien took the floor to present her company Lixi and the difficulties she faces to put her software on the market. Julie received a lot of support from the audience, and the networking session allowed her to connect with many people.

Finally, for the third meet-up, we wanted to get closer to the community of developers to raise their awareness about healthcare. Naturally, we went to meet the team of Spektrum Multimedia to integrate into the SPK ecosystem. We received a warm welcome and real support in the organization of our event. They also suggested one of their developer who works for Umano Medical, a company that creates smart hospital beds. We completed the panel with two other developers in healthcare. Organizing the meet-up in SPK’s offices has allowed us to break the silos that usually exist between healthcare and developers. From a panel of experts, the debate has turned into an exchange of ideas between developers, health professionals (doctors, pharmacists), entrepreneurs, investors in an amiable atmosphere.

Transforming institutions

Our reputation has begun to spread and we were proposed to lead a Design Thinking workshop as part of a Franco-Canadian Summer School in Management and Health Service organized by the Faculty of Sciences of the Administration of Laval University in June. This training was offered to managers, executives and students who wanted to improve the concrete organizational practices of healthcare institutions. We wanted to make them aware of the need to include a patient-partner in the development of concrete solutions in healthcare. In the form of a role-play, the participants developed solutions that take into account the user (patient) experience and were conquered by the approach.

This is just the beginning

We are now comforted by our idea that Quebec City needs a connector that knows how to bring together all those who want to have an impact in healthcare and support entrepreneurship in a highly regulated field, whatever the maturity of the company concerned.

In addition to the Coopérathon, we will offer other types of events to promote health innovation such as a Design Jam (a Design Thinking workshop) during the Entrepreneurship Week and a hackathon of 48 hours on the weekend during the Digital Week 2020. We will continue to offer meet-ups in parallel thanks to a growing team. The 2019-2020 program is going to be rich!

Save the dates:
Sep 24: Pitch & Networking Evening (preparation for the Coopérathon and Design Jam) – Registration
Oct 2 – Nov 2: Coopérathon competition – Registration

Nov. 20: Innovative Health Projects Workshop – Upcoming Entries
April 17, 18, 19, 2020: hackathon – Registration coming soon


Author: Delphine Davan, co-leader of the Quebec chapter.

Delphine DavanHHQc, the Missing Link to Health Innovation in Quebec City
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The Waterloo Region’s Connector

In Canada, Kitchener-Waterloo is often described as the Silicon Valley of the North as an incubator for technology. Despite the accolades, we operate within a fragmented health tech siloed ecosystem. Waterloo Region has many incredible incubators, entrepreneurs, research bodies, and healthcare systems. Yet, inefficient communication leads to duplication and missed opportunities for growth.

Our vision for Hacking Health Waterloo is to be the recognized connector for health tech innovation and improvement in the Region. We facilitate or enable conversations. We endeavour to create a bridge and conduit for more than 1,000 members to seek help and explore the unmet needs in health.

Our vision is to be the recognized connector for health tech innovation and improvement in the Region.


Kitchener-Waterloo is bustling with health tech-related conferences and Hackathons. Through 2018, these included Hack4Health 4.0 at St Paul’s Greenhouse, Waterloo MedTech conference and an AGE-WELL workshop on technology solutions to social isolation in older adults. May’s True North conference at Lot42 attracted more than 2,000 delegates considering Tech for good. Transformative innovation starts by connecting technology creators, healthcare professionals, and health consumers across the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN).

Acting as a regional connector extends behind the geographic boundaries to plug the local community into the broader Ontario and Canadian health tech ecosystem. To that end, the Hacking Health Waterloo members have participated in the Hacking Health Ottawa HIP613, Hacking Health Toronto Ideathon, and new Hacking Health YGK chapter (Kingston, ON).

We can learn from each other through the Hacking Health network.

We have work ahead of us to engage more clinicians and engage patients to collaborate on realistic, human-centric solutions to front-line problems. We can learn from each other through the Hacking Health network. There are few situations that one of the other chapters have not previously encountered.

It has never been easier to start a business says HubSpot, while at the same time acknowledging that scaling a business is becoming harder than ever. Anthony Lacereva notes that Canada is possibly the best place to start a business and the hardest place to grow one. An exemplary illustration is the HHOttawa HIP613.

In 2019, Hacking Health Waterloo has collaborated with the Regional Innovation Centre, Communitech, for a hackathon in conjunction with True North. This event has engaged local health players while inviting partners from across Ontario. The theme was focused on Aging, Social Isolation, and Health. More details about this dual-city hackathon will be shared in a future post.

Our hackathons, therefore, must not just create the best ideas but provide a journey to scale profitable growth.



About the author: John Gregory is Partner Lead of the Hacking Health Waterloo chapter and Head of Global Growth at the Hacking Health Foundation.

Follow John on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Delphine DavanThe Waterloo Region’s Connector
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The Volunteer Factor

I joined the Hacking Health Ottawa (HHO) chapter in August 2016. I was working in health at the time and looking for new ways to bring together diverse stakeholders. I came across a post on Twitter about this thing called a Hackathon, and it was focused on health. I reached out to learn more and was invited to the chapter team meeting and a smaller event they had coming up. It was a great way to learn about Hacking Health, the people who make it all happen, and the work they do.

I came across a post on Twitter // I reached out to learn more

Throughout those first few weeks, I met students and professionals of all ages working in health, design, engineering, business, and government. The diversity of event participants was reflected in the make-up of the HHO team. The quality of speakers, engagement of participants and dedication of the chapter’s volunteers was inspiring. I still didn’t really understand what a developer did or how ‘ideation’ was different from ‘brainstorming,’ but it didn’t matter.

This was a learning journey, and it culminated in a three-day event each year called a hackathon, where a DJ is a must, energy is contagious, and people don’t want to leave (seriously…we had to kick people out at the end of each day).

There is always a moment during our events where someone realizes HHO is 100% powered by volunteers.

There is always a moment during our events where someone realizes HHO is 100% powered by volunteers. Even though we thank and recognize our volunteers at the beginning and end of every event, it can often take folks a few events for it to really sink in. Their eyes light up, and they can’t believe it. You do all this in your spare time the say. Yes, we do. We work with amazing, dedicated people who show up, roll up their sleeves and make the impossible possible year over year. I can’t thank our team of volunteers enough for their generosity and commitment to HHO.

As a volunteer myself, I have gained so much more than I have given. I have learned new skills, expanded my professional network, met so many talented people and been inspired by their stories of success and failure.

Never underestimate The Volunteer Factor. It lifts us up each and every day.

My learning journey continues, and I am grateful for all those who have and continue to make HHO a reality. The volunteers, the community, the health care partners and the sponsors. Thank you.


Karine Dietrich is Partnership & Sponsorship Lead at the Ottawa Hacking Health chapter. She’s also Vice-President, Public Engagement and Knowledge Mobilization at Volunteer Canada, and owns a B.A. in Criminology with a concentration in law from the Carlton University.


Delphine DavanThe Volunteer Factor
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Le Coopérathon Revient Cet Automne / Cooperathon Comes Back This Fall

Lisez le billet en français ici:

The largest international open innovation competition in the world comes back this fall. For the fourth year in a row, Hacking Health is the partner of the health track which gives us the title of historical partner!

Volunteers from Hacking Health chapters in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and Waterloo* are ready to support you during this human and entrepreneurial adventure with the goal to have an impact on healthcare.

Join doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, patients, entrepreneurs, investors, startups, and experts from diverse industries and become a change agent.


An entrepreneurial adventure for all

Whether you have an idea, identified a problem or simply want to change the world, you can join the competition. Throughout the month of October, workshops are organized in each of the participating cities to:

  1. Build teams,
  2. Identify root causes of the problem to be solved,
  3. Design the business model,
  4. Create a prototype,
  5. Learn how to pitch your project to a panel of experts.

The semi-final is held on November 2nd in each city to identify the best impact projects before the grand finale in Montreal on November 20th.

All winners!

Among all former participants, some have won prizes but all have acquired new skills, developed their network, discovered new horizons and above all … lived a tremendous human adventure. Whatever your expertise, your industry, whether you have a project idea or just want to contribute, you can make an impact.

Registrations are now open. Join us!

An incredible match. The story of “I Seek Delirium”.

Tania (nurse at the Montreal Heart Institute) and Nicolas (entrepreneur, founder of NeuroServo) did not know each other. They I Seek Delirium - Le projet gagnant du Coopérathon 2018met during the pitch & networking meetup where teams are built around each project. As Nicolas says in the video below: “it clicked immediately and we decided to work together”.The potential of their collaboration was obvious.

Winner of the health track in Canada, “I seek delirium” has been integrated within NeuroServo and continues its development with the Montreal Heart Institute. The company and the diagnostic tool presented at Cooperathon 2018 have been the subject of an article in Fierce Biotech, a reference in the health industry.

Check out the projects from previous editions in this post.

Watch this video to get an overview of the competition and projects presented in 2018


* Some chapters in France may also join the competition.


Delphine DavanLe Coopérathon Revient Cet Automne / Cooperathon Comes Back This Fall
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Our Volunteers Break Silos And Borders

Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit is the first cross-border Hacking Health chapter in the world. It brings together two cities, which comprise a world-class automotive cluster that is reinventing itself as a global leader in health and mobility.

The 100-year-old Ambassador Bridge is iconic of this chapter’s determination to reach across divides and bring creative people together from the tech, health and automotive sectors to collaborate on innovative solutions to healthcare challenges on both sides of the Detroit River.


This chapter fosters innovation across the Canadian-US border

Now entering its fifth year – Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit has drawn over 1,000 participants, connected over 60 partner organizations, sparked a half-dozen start-up companies (CarePRN is one of them) and inspired a cross-border MedHealth Summit that annually matches health start-ups with investors .

There is also Kaitlyn Sheehan—a Registered Nurse— who had an idea for a mobile app that could improve health care on both sides of the Detroit-Windsor border. Read her fabulous story here and how she won a hackathon top award for mobile app design in this previous post.

Gathering automotive & healthcare sectors in the same place?

From left to right: Deborah Livneh, Zain Ismail and Yvonne Pilon, members of the HHWD chapter

After the lights dimmed on a successful MedHealth Summit in downtown Detroit in early 2018, one that featured an electric keynote by celebrated neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu featured in the movie Concussion, the organizers gathered in a boardroom at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy at Wayne State University.  Many of those gathered had been founders and leaders from Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit – which provided the spark for the Medhealth Summit.

In part, the organizers wanted to debrief on such a successful meeting and chart potential destinations for Medhealth in 2019.  This meeting raised the potential of bringing talent from the automotive and health-care sectors together.

A year later, we are happy to report that Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit IV will explore the theme of mobility in the fall. The potential for creative engineers and programmers from General Motors and Google and Lyft to talk healthcare is exciting.



In the video below, Robert C. Brooks, III – a hackathon participant, talks about what the automotive industry can bring to healthcare:

Our Movement Builds Ecosystems of Innovation

At the Medhealth Summit debrief,  Stephen Konya, a Senior Innovation Strategist from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, was invited to lead a discussion. He is exploring the growing network of health-related cluster initiatives across the United States – a cluster of clusters – and the opportunity to integrate the MedHealth Summit.

And that is the genius of Hacking Health – connecting thought leaders from health and tech regionally, opening up promising collaboration between previously sequestered sectors and looking beyond the horizon to connect creative problem solvers globally. That’s Hacking Health’s approach.


That’s the magic of a grass-roots movement

Want to support our movement? Join/build your local chapter or make a donation!


Original text from Dr. Irek Kusmierczyk,

City Councillor for Ward 7 in the City of Windsor

Director of Partnerships at WEtech Alliance

Leader of the Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit Chapter



Delphine DavanOur Volunteers Break Silos And Borders
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Hacking Health Ottawa #HIP613 Hackathon

Schedule | What to Bring | Prizes & AwardsJudging Criteria

We invite healthcare professionals, designers, developers, innovators and entrepreneurs to take part in building useable solutions to frontline healthcare problems. Join us Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29 for Hacking Health Ottawa’s #HIP613 Hackathon taking place at Shopify.

 What is #HIP613?

#HIP613 Hackathon is a fun, hands-on, intense, 3-day hackathon that breaks down barriers to healthcare innovation in Ottawa. Our goal isn’t just to organize hackathons, it’s to have a long-term impact on our healthcare system. Last year’s hackathon resulted in the development of 13 projects, two of which are being piloted at CHEO Hospital. We can’t wait to see you contribute to a hackathon project that can be brought to market for the benefit of communities everywhere – we have the resources to help you get there!

At the hackathon, teams will pitch ideas, get advice from experts and build solutions that can be integrated and implemented into our healthcare system. We are excited to see the projects you’re dreaming up come to life!


Friday, April 27 Saturday, April 28 Sunday, April 29
8:00 AM Breakfast Breakfast
9:00 AM Hacking Starts Hacking
10:00 AM Pitch Clinic with L-Spark
12:00 PM Lunch & Judging Criteria Presentation Lunch
1:00 PM Hacking Hacking Ends
1:30 PM Pre-Presentation: Team Line Up
2:00 PM Closing Ceremony
5:00 PM Dinner End of Day 3
6:00 PM Hacking
7:00 PM Registration Opens
7:25 PM Opening Ceremony
8:00 PM Pitches
9:00 PM Team Formation & Networking
10:00 PM End of Day 1  End of Day 2

Things To Bring

❏ Phone + Charger ❏ Sensors/ Hardware
❏ Headphones or Earplugs ❏ Valid ID
❏ Extra Battery ❏ Notebook/ Pen
❏ Extension Cords ❏ Sweater
❏ Keyboard/ Mouse ❏ Computer and Modified External Monitor (optional)

Prizes & Awards

IBM Design Mentorship Program |  Design studio sessions, mentoring, and more
Shopify Mentorship Program | 3 hours of mentorship over a 3 month period
CHEO Pilot Opportunity |  Advice, feedback and potential for piloting within CHEO hospital
 Algonquin College Aging Solution | Up to $10,000 to assist a project related to aging

Desjardin Health Innovation | $500 cash prize
• Girls & Women In Technology, sponsored by Macadamian Technologies | $250 Girls Can Hack it!

Judging Criteria

• Importance of the problem tackled
• Extent of the impact the solution can have
• Demonstration of a working prototype
• Elaborate design of solution
• Quality of the design, UI, etc
• Usability for the target users
• Fit the ecosystem of infrastructure
• Quality of the design, UI, etc
• Usability for the target users
• Fit the ecosystem of infrastructure
• Can be adopted naturally and rapidly
• Level of insights on the solution
• If possible: Could become a real business
• Clear, succinct, inspiring
• Understand the importance of the problem


Hacking Health OttawaHacking Health Ottawa #HIP613 Hackathon
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Hacking Health Hamilton Nov. Meetup: Big Image Data and Health Data

Hacking Health Hamilton Nov. Meetup: Big Image Data and Health Data

This month, We are hosting a fantastic MeetUp at CoMotion On King in Hamilton. CoMotion On King is a new coworking initiative and Hamilton’s largest coworking space in the heart of downtown. Now we have a chance to get inside and enjoy their hospitality.

We have three awesome groups presenting this meetup:

Professor H.R.Tizhoosh is the director of KIMIA Lab. He has been researching in the fields of machine intelligence, medical imaging and computer vision since 1995.
Prof. Tizhoosh will present “Big Image Data: Tagging for Recognition”. It deals with how to identify histopathology images when we are searching in large archives of gigapixel scan.

Eric is the Director of Software Development at DF/Net Software. In addition to clinical trials data management, Eric’s primary interests are in application programming and human/computer interaction.

Yiguo is a student of McMaster’s eHealth MSc program in Computer Science stream. Currently, Joshua (another eHealth student) and Yiguo are developing a mobile solution for clinical trials data management in DF/Net Software.

Through our lens of DF/Net Software, we have the first-hand experience with clinical trials data collection for over 25 years. This presentation will reflect upon the key challenges of clinical trials data management and the intersection of software solutions.

Arinai Inc. Team:

Mohamed Ibrahim is a software architect and a full-stack developer with 10 years of experience designing and building enterprise level software in eHealth. He has comprehensive experience with startups, small-to-medium enterprise, and governments of different countries.

Nadia Ashoori is a Master of Science eHealth candidate at McMaster University. Nadia is a business development professional and marketing wiz with several years of experience in a variety of sectors, especially in the health sector.

Robert Zeni is a full-stack Software Developer with 5 years of experience in designing and building scalable enterprise level solutions in the mHealth and eHealth space. These experiences also encompass working on projects with organizations such as eHealth Ontario, MOHLTC and McMaster University.

They will present Restoring independence to patients and improving quality of care with Arinai.

Hacking Health HamiltonHacking Health Hamilton Nov. Meetup: Big Image Data and Health Data
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The Hacking Health Ottawa Hackathon

Written by Hacking Health Ottawa Volunteer Kevin Dick who joined a team and jumped into the trenches to give us a recap of his weekend. Originally published on HHOttawa’s blog on Medium.

The long anticipated Hacking Health Hackathon, hosted by Shopify, came and went in a blur. In the short two and a half days, ideas were pitched, expertise was shared, and prototypes developed with the common goal of improving the healthcare system.

In broad strokes, Friday brought together physicians, developers, politicians, and members of the health community from as far away as California to set the scene, with none other than Cofounder of the Hacking Health movement, Luc Sirois hyping up the participants in anticipation of (and throughout) the weekend. Saturday was an event-filled day with participants arriving at 8 a.m. and hacking well into the night. Sunday was a frenzy to bring projects to a close and judging of the final pitched ideas, each team vying for the prizes that could bring their prototype to the next level! From end-to-end, it was a resounding success full of camaraderie and competition, energy and euphoria, and of course: hacking and health!

Friday: The Official Kickoff!

With the close of business hours, most of Ottawa was eagerly anticipating the promised sunshine of the weekend. A different energy was stirring at 150 Elgin, home of Shopify and temporary home and workspace of over 150 hacking health participants through the highly anticipated Hacking Health Hackathon! A steady stream of physicians, developers, engineers, designers, politicians, media, and health enthusiast converged into the large bright space. As they mixed in together, some were reminiscing on the string of events leading up to this moment, others actively networking with one another and eager to learn what was in store for the next few days.

The event began with a number of prominent speakers addressing the assembly of participants. Most notably, Haidee Thanda, the Chapter Leader of Hacking Health Ottawa welcomed us and described the journey that had led to this point. The highly enthusiastic Global Hacking Health Cofounder, Luc Sirois, took the stage and operated as both Master of Ceremonies and hype man, drawing out the enthusiasm of the crowd. He explained how these types of events would come to define our moment in history and be part of the stories passed onto the next generations. Describing how in Canada, we are an example for healthcare around the world, Mr. Sirois emphasized that this success is the result of constant innovation and urged us all to continually push that cutting-edge fringe of healthcare technology forward. He explained that this is why Hackathons are so crucial:

“We cannot invent without learning!”

In bringing together experts from multiple disciplines, teams can share in unique perspectives and increased breadth and depth of knowledge. Mr. Sirois described how innovation in healthcare is necessary for the transformation of the institution; ensuring that is a dynamically growing entity.

This idea was then built upon by the next speaker, Alex Munter, the CEO and President of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (CHEO-OCTC). He first described the history of CHEO-OCTC, explaining that there was significant resistance to establishing the institution with many claiming that Canadian healthcare was not sustainable.

“That would be true if your definition of ‘Sustainable” is ‘doing the same thing every year’!”

Mr. Munter explains that through the years, numerous allegations have been politically argued about the sustainability of the healthcare system and that the continual research and innovation has evolved the institution such that processes become more efficient. Ultimately, he states:

“Innovation is what drives the sustainability!”

Without innovation, the healthcare system would be in trouble and he therefore urged us all to pursue our passion to contribute to the health system. Concluding, he described his high expectations for the generation of millennials that will drive research and wished everyone good luck and that they enjoy themselves through the weekend.

Steven MacKinnon, the Member of Parliament for Gatineau then took the stage, offering the Federal perspective of innovation in healthcare. Explaining that healthcare consumes 40–50% of provincial budgets (outpacing inflation!) it is necessary that technology help produce increasingly efficient systems. He notes that the federal government recognizes this trend and that many efforts have been put forward to break down the barriers to information by opening access of data to the public.

Finally, Randy McCaig, Director of the Ottawa Desjardins Office and member of the Business Development team, congratulated us all for “being a little bit crazy!” Having experience in bringing successful hackathon projects to market, he commended all participants on their willingness to promote change in healthcare.

With that, the pitches started!

With about 25 different projects outlined on the Hacking Heath Sparkboard, each project lead had 60 seconds to pitch their idea with the intention of recruiting participants with the right skill-set. In a quick-fire manner, each idea was rapidly pitched in succession of the next. About halfway though, to keep energy high, we were all guided into a stretching routine and mandatory “Go Sens Go” chant while performing the wave.

With the final idea pitched, then came ‘The Match’, where participants ebbed and flowed throughout the room to pick the idea that they wished to commit to during the weekend. With clusters formed, each team found a secluded space to share in introductions and settle into deeper discussions of the problem faced and the approaches to resolve it.

Having been a part of the Sleep Apnea project leading up to the hackathon, I was one of twelve members committed to the project. Interestingly, team sizes varied from the very small (2–3 members) to the very large (8–12 members) with most fitting somewhere in the middle. Our team also appeared to comprise a disproportionately high number of machine learning aficionados. Certainly the skill-set within a team would help provide some context to the proposed solution; a particular challenge we faced was breaking out of our comfort zone and considering the problem from unique perspectives.

After several hours of discussion, we began converging on a weekend strategy and anticipated reuniting in the morning to begin bringing the pieces together! The teams slowly dissipated with an eagerness to tackle the problem in the morning!

Saturday: Hacking Commences!

Arriving as early as 8 a.m. and staying on well into the night (~11 p.m. kick out), Saturday was buzzing with energy. From dawn until dusk, it was somewhat magical to see ideas emerging as tangible prototypes in so short a time. With teams interspersed among one another, there was a congenial, yet competitive atmosphere. A broad range of mentors and experts were available for consulting on various aspects. From data visualization, to 3D printing services, to business model development, to sensor integration; there was help for any facets to each unique project!

Our team convened bright and early, and we rapidly brainstormed and refined a number of aspects of our proposed solution. The central problem we were addressing was the lack of information to support the diagnosis of a child’s sleep apnea, and current waitlists for a sleep study (which are often ineffective) can be upwards of two years. Our project leader, Dr. Matthew Bromwich, was eager to address any and all questions. Having a large team, we opted for a three-part solution:

· Engage: Parents suspecting that their child might have sleep apnea often come unprepared to consultancies with specialists. There are no resources for a concerned parent to consult which outline the various steps of information gathering about their child’s sleeping behaviours. In order to promote parent engagement, we decided to create a website ( which would outline the information a parent should bring to a consultation to facilitate the diagnosis of their child.

· Capture: Video footage of Sleep Apnea events make compelling evidence for diagnosis. We decided to create a sleep apnea video capture app to standardize the data collection process to amass evidence about a child’s sleeping behaviours. With a long-term goal of generating a night-long analysis system, the WhatsApnea app would allow parents to regularly collect video footage to help a physician with their diagnosis.

· Analyze: Using facial skin tone, we can extract heart rate from a patient in a contactless way. As part of the data analysis team, I sought to extract physiological information from patient videos to determine if we could detect sleep apnea events without the use of complex medical equipment. This machine learning layer would add significant value to the process of sleep apnea diagnosis as sleep apnea events could be automatically detected and provide a preliminary assessment to physicians.

As a biomedical engineering Master’s candidate with a passion for problem-solving, I reveled in the opportunity to engage with a physician on the front-lines of these medical system challenges. This is an opportunity rarely seen outside of a hackathon framework.

The Engage sub-team extensively used the IBM Design Mentors (Yasmine Taha and Peter Djeneralovic) to develop Empathy Maps and build a story around a proposed patient. This helped narrow down the scope of the problem to tangible targets. In general, whenever someone faced a particular roadblock, other team members were eager to find a way to circumvent it or mentors were available to provide expertise.

Ottawa’s own prototypeD experts were in-house offering a range of consultancy services including 3D printing and data visualization. My own work with the Analyze team necessitated the visualization of data streams in an interactive and dynamic manner. Janak Alford, Founder and CEO of prototypeD, helped me identify a number of packages to achieve what I envisioned.

This fully supportive and highly engaging atmosphere truly fostered individual and team creativity in the pursuit of healthcare solutions! To promote a healthy work environment, yoga sessions were also offered to help relieve tension and to reinvigorate the body after long periods in front of a computer.

Teams worked on late into the evening until the 10:30 p.m. kick out. Undoubtedly a number of teams would have carried on further into the early hours of the morning if they had the opportunity. For some that momentum transferred spatially from Shopify to their homes while others, temporally, from night to Sunday morning…


Sunday: Judgment Day!

The last day of the hackathon could be characterized by an altogether new flavor of anticipation: one that is sprinkled with anxiety and frenzy. The 3PM deadline was on everyone’s mind. Our team rapidly realized the importance of putting together a compelling presentation and we rapidly shifted gears from prototype development to pitch-craft!

With a developer-heavy composition, our team lacked expertise in business model development. A panel of business-oriented mentors was available to help identify the value proposition to our three-part solution. Having scheduled one of the last appointments with them, this panel was a prized commodity in the frenzy of Pitch day.

How do you boil down the breadth of a problem and solution into a relatable, compelling, and investable presentation of a mere 180 seconds? We iterated our presentation over and over again until we converged on what we deemed the right flow. As one of the speakers, I was afforded a 20–30 second slot to convey the intricacies of our data analysis solution in a couple of sentences. One rapidly realizes that technical jargon must immediately be replaced with high-level concepts.

As the hours whittled away, you increasingly observed the shift toward pitch practice in the hallways and discrete workspace corners. Finally, the moment of truth arrived and all teams convened to the stage where a short ~40 hours ago the event had officially kicked off!

Each team took the stage and presented their problem and solution. Some creatively used a short skit to outline their issue; others relied on compelling visuals and videos. Common to all was the passion with which the project was delivered. A number of questions from the diverse panel of judges followed each presentation enabling the team to elaborate on their solution. It was clear that an incredible amount of effort had been put in by each of the teams and some had very promising approaches.

When the time came for deliberation by the judges, it was clear that the competition was incredibly close and teams eagerly anticipated the outcomes!

Here is the list of winners:


CHEO Pilot Opportunity Prize

Sparkboard #59: Patient Wait Time

Sparkboard #2: Sleep Apnea Diagnostic Tool

IBM Watson Grand Prize 

Sparkboard #46: Crowdsourcing Knowledge Synthesis in Medicine

Sparkboard #95: Canadian Pediatrics Hematology/Oncology Patient Database

IBM IoT Gold Prize

Sparkboard #47: A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace

IBM IoT Silver Prize

Sparkboard #2: Sleep Apnea Diagnostic Tool

Joule Innovation Mentorship Prize

Sparkboard #75: Free Flap Monitoring

Shopify Mentorship Package

Sparkboard #91: Alrt Me

Sparkboard #47: A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace

Sparkboard #73: VitalTracer

Impact Hub Ottawa Prize

Sparkboard #93: Timsle

Sparkboard #46: Crowdsourcing knowledge synthesis in medicine

Sparkboard #95: Canadian pediatrics hematology/oncology patient database

Designer Dream Team Prize, $5000

Sparkboard #47: A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace

Sparkboard #80: Triage (MADD booking for Med)

Sparkboard #76: Better and Safer Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) Screening

Showcase Showdown Prize, $1000

Sparkboard #72: Take Care

Sparkboard #49: Latched


Desjardins Health Innovation Award

Sparkboard #84: WHIT: Women’s Health Information Tracker

Can Hack It! Sponsored by Macadamian – $250

Sparkboard #49: Latched

Sparkboard #84: WHIT: Women’s Health Information Tracker

Hacking Health Choice Award

Sparkboard #84: WHIT : Women’s Health Information Tracker

Best Solution for Healthcare Collaboration Award

Sparkboard #49: Latched

Best Solution for Patients Award

Sparkboard #91: AlrtMe

Best Health Education Solution Award

Sparkboard #85: Online Medical Publishing Platform

People’s Choice Award

Sparkboard #47: A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace

With all said and done, Hacking Health Ottawa would again extend their thanks to all sponsors and who made this hackathon such a resounding success. Of course, this event is just another on the journey to implementing effective change in healthcare locally and globally.

Hacking Health Ottawa has a number of post-hackathon events in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for more info! Don’t want to miss a thing? Be sure to register for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter!

For more stories and articles about the success of the weekend, please see the following links:

Radio Canada

Ottawa Citizen News Article

Metro News Article


Runhe Wang LinkedIn Article


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