#HIP613 – A Launch That Had Everyone Buzzing

#HIP613 – A Launch That Had Everyone Buzzing

Hacking Health Ottawa has had a busy few weeks! In November, we launched our Health Innovation Program (HIP) in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (CHEO-OCTC). The sold-out event had full tri-sector engagement and brought together clinicians, programmers, designers and local innovators for an exciting evening. With the goal of unveiling the Program, providing insight as to how it would roll out, and having a good ‘ole time, we kicked off the evening with a talk from Haidee Thanda, the founder of the Ottawa chapter of Hacking Health. She described HIP as an “educational journey” that will create an environment in which change and innovation will be adopted. This will be accomplished by creating lasting relationships through a series of talks and hands-on workshops. People with different ideas and skills will have the opportunity to connect, and build teams to tackle problems such as the ones outlined on our Sparkboard.

This journey builds up to our capstone event: a hackathon. The hackathon is a design sprint where teams take what they have learned over the Program and work intensively over a weekend to build solutions. This event is not the end of the journey: a prototype is only the beginning. These prototypes will have the potential to transform an aspect of healthcare delivery. And this is where CHEO-OCTC really comes into play; as an anchor partner in HIP, CHEO-OCTC is committed to helping us innovate by considering the successful projects that come out of our Program for pilot opportunities at the hospital.

Mr. Alex Munter, CEO of CHEO-OCTC, inspired our community when he said “we have great people doing great things”, and reaffirmed the hospital’s commitment to innovation. He discussed the importance of innovation, and creating a thriving culture that could support growth. CHEO is achieving this by cultivating a community of problem solvers, in partnership with Hacking Health.

We then got to hear physicians speak about their experiences with technology. Dr. Matthew Bromwich, a paediatric surgeon and founder of Clearwater Clinical, discussed the importance of physician participation. Having invented and patented products for the medical industry, he is familiar with the dichotomy of business and medicine. He described the pitfalls associated with developing and adopting technology; this is where Hacking Health can fill the gap, by connecting innovators with resources and people who have been through the development process.

We also got to hear from Dr. Michael Taccone, a Neurosurgery resident at the University of Ottawa. Having had personal experience with cancer, he knows what it is like to be at the other end; he knows first hand that there are gaps in the patient experience that technology can help fill. Dr. Taccone spoke about the need for a secure technological solution that would enable patients to efficiently communicate with their doctors, and have access to information and support.

The event was capped off with “speed ideating,” facilitated by Jen Hunter, Chief Engagement Officer at Great Work. This launch was especially successful because we had nine incredible physicians and nurses pitch their ideas or specific needs, and then interact with techies and innovators.


A quick break during the speed ideating session.

Ideas ranged from building apps that could help diagnose, treat and monitor patients, to educational tools, and apps that would transform systems, and streamline administrative and triaging procedures — many of these real-world problems were identified during our April event.

It was an exciting and promising beginning to the Innovation Program, and we could not have done it without the support of CHEO-OCTC, our dedicated volunteers and our sponsors: Macadamian, Little Victories Coffee and IBM. We could not drive collaborative innovation without their commitment.

Sign up for the Hacking Health Ottawa newsletter and to stay up to date on all upcoming event details.

This event recap originally appeared on our Medium blog.

Hacking Health Ottawa#HIP613 – A Launch That Had Everyone Buzzing
read more

Hacking Health Ottawa: Behind the Scenes

Originally published by Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) on Medium.

Since March, there hasn’t been much rest for the partners in an initiative to use technological change to improve healthcare. Over the innovation platform’s four events, Hacking Health Ottawa, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Impact HUB Ottawa, and volunteers from IBM have brought together doctors, developers, designers, policy analysts, entrepreneurs, and healthcare administrators to ask the question: how can we use technology to make healthcare better?.

There is remarkable enthusiasm for answering this question in Ottawa. Since March, more than 200 people attended these events. Hacking Health Ottawa doubled its number of volunteers. Conversations continued longer than the events themselves.

At each event, attendees considered tough questions like: What problems do people face when they interact with the healthcare system? How can technology disrupt healthcare? How can design thinking find new solutions to old problems?

On July 4th, William Charnetski, Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist, visited CHEO to discuss these questions and see the innovation happening at CHEO.

This was the same day as the launch of Ontario’s $20 million Health Technologies Fund (HTF), which will support the development of made-in-Ontario health technologies. The HTF is a great opportunity for health technology entrepreneurs as they develop prototypes, conduct market evaluations, and ultimately diffuse such innovations into the Ontario health system.

Investing in innovative made-in-Ontario health technology projects will help improve patient experience and transform our health care system,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, at the launch of HTF.

It is an exciting time to be in healthcare innovation. That excitement was in the room when Hacking Health Ottawa, CHEO, the Hub, and volunteers from IBM recently created a roadmap for the next coming months of the innovation platform.

Irene Pylypenko, Dan Del Balso, and Isabelle Lusseyran from Hacking Health Montreal attended and lent their insights to the Ottawa team. With a facilitated design thinking session and the help of many post-it notes, the team mapped the steps that will lead to a design challenge where teams will develop prototypes for use at CHEO.

Pylypenko, Del Balso and Lusseyran brought with them the wealth of experience of running hackathons in Montreal, as well as the lessons they have learned from other Hacking Health events in countries such as Italy and the Netherlands.

This international perspective has been part of the initiative from the start. Hacking Health Ottawa is part of a global movement active in more than 30 cities. Similarly, Hub Ottawa is a member of the diverse Hub network, with locations in more than 80 cities around the world.

“Being part of the global Impact Hub network allows us to practice what we often hear being preached:think global, act local,” says James Chan, Director of Civic Innovation at the Hub. “We also share this global/local dynamic with the Hacking Health movement, which has grown into a network of locally-run chapters in cities around the world. Our challenge and opportunity is to leverage our global resources so we do not have to reinvent the wheel, while recognizing Ottawa’s unique context and realizing there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

Ottawa is unique because it is home to embassies, representatives, and diaspora from all over the world, as well as entrepreneurs, organizations and institutions doing important work abroad, says Chan. He also points out this initiative is part of an exciting trend of such global/local initiatives popping up in Ottawa, including Creative Mornings, TEDx, and Tech4Good.

These factors provide a fertile ecosystem for the local community to do something great for healthcare in Ottawa, while relying on global networks. With Hacking Health and the Hub’s reach into dynamic international communities, plus CHEO’s expertise in health and IBM’s expertise in technology, as well as the enthusiasm of the 200 people who have been involved so far, there’s no doubt this initiative is going to take the health and tech sectors by storm.

It’s only a matter of time before an idea from the innovation platform becomes a project that applies to opportunities like the HTF.

If you want to be part of finding solutions to healthcare problems, sign up to receive our news and learn about upcoming events.

Hacking Health OttawaHacking Health Ottawa: Behind the Scenes
read more

Hacking Health Ottawa Café: Designing for Healthcare


On May 11th, a sold-out event brought more than 60 people together at Impact Hub Ottawa for an inspiring event on using technology to solve problems in the healthcare system.

Originally published by Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) on Medium.

The Hub was the perfect place to bring together designers, UX experts, policy analysts, entrepreneurs and healthcare administrators to discuss innovation in healthcare. The Hub has been a partner of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Hacking Health Ottawa’s innovation platform from the time the initiative was launched in March, with the support of volunteers from IBM.

Additionally, as a collaborative learning environment and incubation ecosystem for people and organizations working to better the world, the Hub’s spirit of innovation and teamwork permeated the event.

Yishel Khan, the founder of DOT Inc. and a Fellow with Hacking Health Montreal, described how technology can help break the silos in medical culture. “Today the time is right and change is inevitable. This is why wearables and m-healthcare technologies are so relevant now.”

DOT Inc. uses a brain-sensing headband to diagnose Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, and develops customized plans to help children with ADHD develop cognitive skills through interactive games.

The idea for DOT was born at a 48-hour event called WearHacks Hackathon, an event much like the innovation weekend Hacking Health Ottawa and CHEO will host as well. This innovation weekend will be the culmination of the series of events encouraging innovation in healthcare, with the goal to create beta prototypes to be used at CHEO.


“[DOT] went from a hackathon idea to doctors and neuroscientists being involved. The key is finding the right people,” said Yishel Khan, founder of DOT Inc. “Hacking Health is a great platform to connect you with like-minded people.”


Dr. Jordan Littman, a family physician practicing in Barrhaven, affirmed the importance of connecting with others. He spoke about his experience developing an app to synthesize information on the costs of medications, and encouraged attendees to learn from his experience.

“If I were to start all over, I would definitely want other people to work with me. This is why a platform like Hacking Health is so important,” Dr. Littman said. “I could have probably created this in a day if I had a developer work with me, but instead I learned how to code on my own. That was one of the struggles along the way, and realizing the value of having different people working on it with you.”

The event built on the enthusiasm from three previous Hacking Health Ottawa-CHEO events. Together, these events have brought together hundreds of people excited to innovate healthcare, and have started conversations on everything from disrupting health systems to healthcare problems that technology can begin to solve.

The same excitement was obvious at the Hub, too. “People are inspired and motivated, but more than anything they want to get down and dirty and actually build things!” said Haidee Thanda, one of the leads at Hacking Health Ottawa.

It was hard for some people to leave the event. Many lingered at the Hub long after the event officially ended, continuing the conversations and discussing the ideas sparked during the evening.

Fortunately, there will be more opportunities to keep the conversations going. Whatever your interest in healthcare or innovation, if you would like to be invited to future events, including our next event, check out HH Ottawa’s page.


Hacking Health OttawaHacking Health Ottawa Café: Designing for Healthcare
read more

Hacking Health Ottawa: Design Thinking Recap

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can stop Ottawa’s healthcare leaders from improving healthcare..

Originally published by Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) on Medium.

The record-breaking snowstorm on April 6 didn’t deter more than 50 healthcare professionals from attending the latest in a series of events to innovate health, organized by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Hacking Health Ottawa.

IBM’s Design Studio, with its colourful walls and creative use of space, was the perfect venue to match the energy of the people in the room.

It’s good to think big. But you have to start small. And you have to move fast so you don’t lose momentum,” said Dr. Matthew Bromwich, CHEO pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer at Clearwater Clinical, in his opening remarks to the crowd.

In March, CHEO and Hacking Health announced their partnership to find solutions to difficult healthcare problems. Working with Impact Hub Ottawa and volunteers from IBM, the initiative has garnered attention in Ottawa and beyond. Olympian Jennifer Heil even extended her congratulations.

The Design Thinking event on April 6 brought together pediatricians, technologists, and administrators from CHEO, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), IBM, and other organizations, to consider the problems within healthcare.

It made sense to ask: how can we help with healthcare?” said Greg Adams, Director and Distinguished Engineer, IBM Cognos Analytics. “When you look at healthcare, it is ripe for innovation. What would happen if we bring a lot of people together to start creating a pool of ideas?

Shahira Bhimani, Vice President of Innovation Services at Health Technology Exchange (HTX), visited from Toronto to highlight funding opportunities for innovative health technologies, including HTX’s own grant program, REACH.

She pointed to the Ontario government’s appointment of a Chief Health Innovation Strategist to show there is support within Ontario for ambitious health solutions. “Think disruptive. Think system impact.”.

Dr. Jim King, CHEO’s Medical Director of Informatics, added,  “We need to become a learning organization that asks questions.”

It was a room full of innovators, including Dr. Kumanan Wilson of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, who spearheaded development of the award-winning ImmunizeCA app, and Dr. Pranesh Chakraborty, who worked with Mari Teitelbaum, Vice President of Technology and Chief Information Officer at CHEO, to launch the Better Outcomes Registry & Network (BORN), which improves the health of mothers, newborns and children in Ontario.

Teitelbaum saw the Design Thinking event as a way to encourage new ideas. “We don’t often have the opportunity to step outside of the day-to-day. This is an opportunity to step into a different way of thinking.

According to Teitelbaum, the CHEO + Hacking Health Ottawa partnership has real potential to improve care at CHEO. “This for me is a win: if we have three really good solutions make into the hospital in a year.

Dr. Jim King, CHEO’s Medical Director of Informatics, added, “We need to become a learning organization that asks questions.

Yasmine Taha, a user experience designer at IBM, showed the importance of asking the right questions by starting the design thinking session with two very different questions.

Taha first asked participants to design a doorbell, prompting 50 people to draw similar sketches of doorbells. She then asked them to design a way for a hearing-impaired person to know if someone was at the door. This second question received a wide range of responses, from low-tech to high-tech interventions.

“In the first example, you were given a solution: a doorbell,” said Taha. “In the second, you were presented with a problem, and it created a bigger dialogue and more diverse solutions. Focus on users, not on features.

Participants broke into groups and considered the perspectives of different stakeholders within the healthcare system, such as a family doctor, a pediatric oncologist, and a philanthropist. They created problem statements from the perspective of each of these stakeholders, including statements and questions like:

  • Who is involved in my patient’s healthcare and how do I talk to them?
  • How do I keep up with best practices in my field?
  • I want to connect with my patient’s care team in hospital so I can be prepared to refer or take over their care.

For Haidee Thanda of Hacking Health Ottawa, it was important to begin the process with healthcare professionals because “every good solution starts with a good problem, and they’re closer to the problems.

Future events will bring together healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs, developers, and engineers to discuss these and other problems, and begin creating solutions for them. The events will culminate in a weekend design challenge held this fall, where prototypes to solve problems will be built over 42–72 hours.

Viable solutions will have the opportunity to be taken to the next level by presenting to CHEO and other stakeholders.

We want to set up a culture of innovating,” Dr. Bromwich told participants. “Connection between you and other people is what makes that happen.

Be part of making it happen. Sign up here to receive updates for this exciting initiative and be the first to hear of next events.

Hacking Health OttawaHacking Health Ottawa: Design Thinking Recap
read more