HackRx - a big success: attendees share experiences at first pharmacy-tech hackathon

Friday, May 14, 2021

In April, 150 students from across North America and beyond logged on for HackRx, a three-day hackathon organized by about fifteen University of Waterloo and University of Toronto pharmacy students.

From pharmacy and nursing to science, engineering and computer science, participants represented diverse educational programs. The students participated in tech and health workshops and made teams to design products that meet needs in the world of pharmacy. The weekend closed with a pitch competition and three winning concepts were identified. Hear from those winning teams and other participants:

Words from the winners:

OnBoard.

Onboard logo and team member faces

Left to right: Brady Liu, James Zhang, Tom Sun, Jamie Park, John Lee, Felix Ng. OnBoard. is a unique task management platform that tackles many pain points for healthcare professionals in the hospital setting. By streamlining task delegation, integrating with the hospital's electronic medical record system, and providing a seamless transition in the hospital workflow, OnBoard. helps to increase work efficiency, reduce redundancy, and follow the patient's journey in their care. 

John Lee: “As a pharmacy student from the University of British Columbia with an interest digital health, innovation, and collaborative care, HackRx felt like a perfect opportunity to personally challenge myself and do something that I have never done before.  Being able to work cross-functionally with my team members which consist of pharmacy students, health science students, and computer science students was a very exciting and positive experience.

I enjoyed speaking with a variety of mentors that came from such unique backgrounds, and engaging with students across Canada. HackRx has been an amazing learning experience.” 

RightScript

RightScript team and smiling team member faces

Left to right: Tania Ng, Tammy Nguyen, Olivia Plese and Helena Lee. RightScript was built to solve the problem that pharmacists face when they receive a prescription that is missing information. Clarification with prescribers takes time and delays treatment. This team pitched a system to address technical and clinical errors in a prescription while it’s being prescribed in an electronic medical record. Their team is looking to connect with people interested in learning more about digital health and RightScript.

Tania Ng: “I've had an interest in non-traditional avenues in pharmacy since my first co-op at McCann Health, a marketing and consulting agency. HackRx presented itself as the perfect opportunity to explore digital health and test my creativity. Olivia and I are in the same class at Waterloo Pharmacy and decided to make a team. We met our 2 other teammates at HackRx - Tammy Nguyen, a pharmacy resident at Sanofi, and Helena Lee, a Science and Business student at UW. It's incredible to collaborate with students of other disciplines because each person brings a mindset and skillset entirely different from your own.”

Olivia Plese: “I joined HackRx because it gave us a chance to address current gaps in our healthcare system. I connected with many individuals from different programs which was refreshing and helped me look at issues through a new lens. Not only was the event enjoyable, but it also helped me develop problem-solving skills while working under pressure. If you are intrigued about an event, go to it! Start being comfortable with the uncomfortable. You’ll never realize what great opportunities are ahead of you if you shut down before even trying.”
 
MedRx

MedRex logo and team member faces smiling

Left to right: Jake Goodman, Peter Hoang, Kanika Khosla, Hanna Cho, Kevin Kim. MedRx is an indication-based prescribing tool for physicians. It’s intended to be used following the differential diagnosis process to aid in medication selection, while improving communication with pharmacists. This program uses machine learning to optimize medication recommendations based on the patient’s medical history and factors such as changing guidelines or antibiotic resistance patterns.

Peter Hoang: “It’s tough to pick a highlight from HackRx since the whole event was so well done! The speakers were engaging, and the workshops were extremely informative. But the people I met were the biggest highlight. I joined the hackathon with a peer from Waterloo Pharmacy, and met the rest of my team, consisting of 2 CS students and 1 BC pharmacy student, through the networking event. They were such amazing people to work with!

They had so many ideas, providing expertise in CS aspects, graphic design, and even legislation in Western Canada to ensure that our product would be successful. The mentors and organizers at the event were also supportive, providing suggestions tailored to our individual product and pitch.”

An event to remember

HackRx even drew participants from beyond North America. Aybala Imer is a pharmacy student at Ankara University in Turkey. She worked around a seven-hour time difference to participate in HackRx.

Aybala Imer: “I was hesitant to join because my English is not perfect, but I’d competed in various competitions like this in Turkey and my desire to meet new people and gain experience motivated me. I had a lot of fun in HackRx 2021. I made mistakes but also learned a lot. I look forward to HackRx 2022 to turn all the mistakes I made into successes and to add new friendships!”

The HackRx organizing team extends their gratitude to the sponsors, speakers, judges and participants who made this event possible. This event was sponsored by Sanofi, Manulife, Shiftpost, WUSA, the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science Foundation, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto, MedMe and Avro Life Sciences.

HackRx team is now planning for their next annual hackathon in 2022. If you are interested in being involved in building the event, reach out to info.hackrx@gmail.com.

HackRx keynote with two speakers videos on screen

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