Home Community Forge Hack Recap | Talking Diapers to DNA Tracking

Forge Hack Recap | Talking Diapers to DNA Tracking

by Stephanie Roman

Designed to foster Atlanta’s healthcare startup community and endorsed by Mayor Kasim Reed, the city’s first healthcare hackathon (following Hack CF) offered innovative solutions to real healthcare problems. Here’s a quick rundown.


Friday 8/22: Opening night at ATDC

Doctors and clinicians pitched seven pain points to hackathon participants. These were:

  1. Help low-income families increase language and vocabulary exposure for young children so they can break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty.
  2. Reduce the incidence of central line associated bloodstream infections and related patient deaths.
  3. Improve intermittent pneumatic compression devices (that can be bulky and uncomfortable to wear) to reduce to occurrence of venous thromboembolism in children who must spend long periods of time in treatment or recovery.
  4. Reduce the incidence of foreign objects (particularly needles) left in patients after surgery.
  5. Improve workflow coordination between different care teams in the hospital.
  6. Link peripheral devices (IV pumps, feeding tubes, etc.) with hospital electronic health records.
  7. Create a robust, inexpensive smartphone-based solution for identifying individual patients in a database (focus on NGOs or medical workers in remote settings).

Approximately 100 hackers chose pain points to solve and formed 19 teams of up to 5 participants per team.


Saturday 8/23: Time to hack medicine!

Hardware hacking all day at Georgia Tech Invention Studio.

Software hacking all day at ATDC.

Teams collaborated with tech mentors from The Iron Yard, clinical mentors from Georgia Tech, Emory University and Emory Healthcare, and successful business mentors from Atlanta and beyond. Sleep was scarce and caffeine was plentiful.


Sunday 8/24: Demo Day at Georgia Tech Conference Center

In just 34 hours, hackers created hardware prototypes, working smartphone applications, and pitches for their healthcare solutions.

Some highlights:

  • The HelioDome, a UV-based central line disinfectant and HelioPatch, the surgical dressing with UV LEDs to prevent infections.
  • FlowBuddy, a lightweight, comfortable pneumatic compression device sized for children.
  • CareChain, an app that automatically updates a patient’s feed to help coordinate workflow among care team members. Patient wears a wristband that tracks their location in and out of hospital departments; patients would also have access to the app to keep informed about their own treatment.
  • BabyByte, a wearable device for children of low-income families uses vocal recognition technology to track the number of words kids use. Companion app includes audio, stories to help parents interact with children as they learn together.
  • TotemID uses a DNA swab to identify patients in developing countries. Care workers use phones to receive patient profiles, diagnoses, and medications.

Keynote speaker, Nate Gross, MD, recalled a teachable moment from his experience at Emory School of Medicine during a time when hospitals were transitioning from paper to electronic records. He noted that simply adding technology to solve a problem is not always the best answer. Instead, viewing a problem in its environment and considering unique points of view are helpful before integrating a tech solution in a meaningful way.

Several hackathon teams were able to speak directly with clinicians about pain points and visit local hospitals to research their solutions. The amount of work and thought put into the pitches and final products was truly impressive. Atlanta has many rising stars and young leaders who show great promise in the health tech community.

A panel of judges chose the first and second prize winners while audience members used the Whova app to determine the crowd favorite.

  • First prize $5,000: Awarded to Regan O’Connell, Sophia Linebaugh, and Amanda Foster, three industrial design students from Georgia Tech, for Chatterbox, a solution that prints vocabulary words and images on diapers, prompting parents and care givers to teach more words to children.
  • Second prize $1,000: Awarded to Sumitra Pati and David Thieker, two UGA Ph.D. students, and Scott Swoope, an EMT, who met their fourth team member, Yasser Boumenir, a GT biotech engineer, at the hackathon’s opening night. The team’s hardware hack, EyeView, uses a magnetic induction mat along with a hand-held wand to pinpoint foreign objects lost in a patient during surgery.
  • Crowd favorite: QuID uses radio frequency identification and web interface to track patients as they move among hospital care teams.

Thanks to Forge for hosting such an informative, organized, and exciting event for our city. Hope all the teams are inspired and energized to continue doing good work!

[Photo credit: Allen Nance]

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