Stories about: digital medicine

Creating a culture of crowd-sourced innovation: A look back at Hacking Pediatrics

The Hacking Pediatrics team 2013Michael Docktor, MD, is a pediatric gastroenterologist, director of clinical mobile solutions at Boston Children’s Hospital and a co-founder of Hacking Pediatrics. Above: The Hacking Pediatrics executive team: Judy Wang, MS; Michael Docktor, MD; Alex Pelletier, MBA; Margaret McCabe, PhD, RN, PNP; Kate Donovan, PhDc, MBA, BS, from Boston Children’s Hospital. (Photos: K.C. Cohen)

A hackathon is most easily explained by relating it to the crowd-sourced, time-crunched challenges that we see every day in pop culture. From “Top Chef” to “The Apprentice” to “Extreme Makeover,” television is teeming with passionate individuals trying to solve a difficult task with incredibly constrained resources and time. What results is often remarkable by any standard and speaks to the power of concentrated, collaborative problem solving.

When the challenge involves children and their health, the results can be magical, as witnessed by the weekend-long Hacking Pediatrics in late October, the first event of its kind. More than 150 “hackers,” including engineers, designers, software developers, entrepreneurs and roughly 40 clinicians gathered to create ground-breaking solutions for children and their families.

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Hacking pediatrics: Improving the patient experience

kids hacking-shutterstock_58262788Michael Docktor, MD, is director of Clinical Mobile Solutions at Boston Children’s Hospital and a pediatric gastroenterologist with a research and clinical interest in inflammatory bowel disease. (See a recent interview with him on MedTech Boston.)

How do the most disruptive companies of our day like Facebook and Pinterest get started? In the warm glow of Silicon Valley, in the shadows of technology titans such as Apple and Google, bright, enthusiastic young entrepreneurs, programmers and designers get together to “hack” ideas for the next big thing. The concept is simple and has worked in tackling challenges from creating the next great social network to developing an innovative green-energy technology.

However, applying this model of collaborative, rapid problem-solving to pain points in health care is still a relatively novel concept. Hacking Medicine, a community of passionate “hackers” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has brought this practice to medicine and successfully organized events from Uganda to Boston. Graduates of one recent event with AthenaHealth—which develops and sells cloud-based services for electronic health records, practice management and care coordination—are on their way to developing successful businesses, including PillPack (helping patients manage their medications), the BeTH Project (inexpensive adjustable prostheses) and Podimetrics (a data-transmitting shoe insole for diabetics).

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Could more time online improve teens’ health? For diabetes, possibly

Teens with type 1 diabetes can download their blood glucose data and attend "virtual clinics" from home.
Most adolescents fight for the freedom to manage their own lives, especially when it comes to friends, curfews and hobbies. That excitement conspicuously slips away when they’re faced with managing something less glamorous—like diabetes.

Since diabetes is a chronic illness with potentially serious risks, it requires continuous management. But adolescents aren’t exactly lining up around the block for extra medical visits.

“Some adolescents forget to do things like take insulin or check their blood glucose level, and they could benefit from more frequent check-ins with their diabetes team,” says Erinn Rhodes, MD, MPH, director of the Type 2 Diabetes Program and Inpatient Diabetes Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “But that’s not easy, especially if time is limited or if transportation is a challenge.”

So Rhodes has designed a study for adolescents 13 to 17 years old, to see if “televisits”—video conferences between teens and their diabetes care providers—can improve their diabetes while encouraging better self-management.

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Celebrating Innovation Day: In pictures

Children's Hospital Boston's first Innovation Day Feb 14, 2012

On Tuesday, Children’s Hospital Boston featured its first Innovation Day.  Organized by the Hospital’s Innovation Acceleration Program, which seeks to promote grass roots innovation within the hospital, the TEDMED style conference featured talks by 17 of the Hospital’s clinicians. Our Chief Innovation Officer Naomi Fried welcomed a packed house, which included attendees from across the country. Here we’re featuring some of the technologies that were revealed on Tuesday and how they’re changing the face of pediatric medicine:

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Science and innovation: top 10 for 2010

In my job as a science writer at Children’s, I comb the organization for interesting science and innovation stories that we can push out to various audiences. At the turn of the year, my colleagues ask me to recommend what I see as our top stories. We present this list to funders, industry and physicians who refer patients to us as a way to build our relationships. Today I’m sharing my 2010 list directly with you.

A couple of caveats:

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