VA partners with MIT to ‘hack’ medicine, improve veteran health care


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The Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Hacking Medicine organization and Samsung for a series of Grand Hacks throughout 2019.

The next Grand Hack takes place in Washington, D.C., Aug. 2-4 and focuses on Access to health care, mental health and professional burnout, and rare and orphan diseases.

Grand Hacks bring together industry leaders, students, VA employees, and tech enthusiasts to ideate and create actionable solutions for issues facing Veterans today and in the future. MIT Hacking Medicine’s signature event, the Grand Hack, is in its sixth year of convening a  diverse group of participants, mentors, and sponsors, who over two days, immerse themselves in in health care innovation to benefit Veterans.

“This event is a great example of how VHA, and VA more broadly, is partnering with academic and industry partners to find new ways to improve Veterans health care and delivery,” Suzanne Shirley, national entrepreneur-in-residence for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem said. “Health challenges that Veterans face are multi-dimensional  and don’t lend themselves to one-size-fits-all solutions—which is why the Grand Hacks are great opportunities to engage students, entrepreneurs, veterans, health professionals and others for fresh perspectives and ideas and to improve care for our country’s Veterans.”

Over the course of a weekend, participants work in teams to discover new and innovative ways to tackle health care challenges that Veterans face in their everyday lives. Great ideas don’t just happen. They require real ideas based on real challenges, which means we need to hear from you, the Veteran, about the specific health challenges you face, and the Grand Hack teams can ideate potential solutions.

At recent Grand Hacks, teams tackled challenges such as:

  • A Veteran amputee who has prosthetics for walking and running but can’t use them in the water. He has a dream of swimming in the ocean with his children
  • A wheelchair user who does not have the truncal strength to turn around in their chair and reach behind them for their belongings, when the only storage offered is a traditional backpack
  • A female Veteran whose disability does not allow her to comfortably or effectively use the standard OB/GYN tables for standard exams. Women of all types and sizes do not need another reason to fear annual exams.

Do you have a specific problem or challenge you want our teams of passionate and motivated problem-solvers to hack and identify viable solutions? Email us here.

At the end of the Hackathon the teams will present their solutions to a group of judges. However, unlike other Hackathons where ideas often don’t move beyond the event itself, Grand Hacks are designed to ensure implementation and reproduction occur when possible. Which means solutions discovered and created during a Grand Hack could positively impact, even change and save Veterans lives of Veterans across the country.

“I am looking forward to seeing the ideas and solutions that come out of these events, and to the long-term potential for breakthroughs these partnerships can develop.” Shirley said.

With the additional support of Samsung, which is providing technology and expertise to help participants create solutions, the VHA Innovation Ecosystem’s goal is to identify more ideas and products that can be used at VA medical centers to improve care for  Veterans nationwide.

Author

Matthew Razak

Matthew Razak supports VA as a contractor with Atlas Research, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm providing strategic advisory and applied research services to federal health and social service agencies. Matt has been working with VA for the past six years supporting social media and communication efforts.

Comments

  1. Ann gourley    

    Remarkable achievements and ideas.

  2. Ann gourley    

    Wonderful achievements and ideas!!

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