University of Waterloo and University of Toronto pharmacy students are partnering to deliver one of Canada’s first pharmacy and technology focused hackathons
Health and technology are destined to work together. The pandemic has only accelerated the speed of this collaboration, with many health-care workers turning to technology-enabled means of delivering services.
“COVID has shown us the importance of incorporating technology into health-care,” says Kate Lim, a fourth-year Pharmacy student. “HackRx is designed for students to take an active role in how this happens, from identifying a problem to designing the solution to it.”
Kate is the chair of the HackRx planning committee, a group of about fifteen University of Waterloo and University of Toronto pharmacy students with a passion for tech. They are organizing a hackathon that runs from April 30 to May 2 and inviting health care, engineering, computer science and science students from across Canada. The event will focus on designing technological solutions to problems in pharmacy, with a theme of “improving the continuity of care in the health-care system.”
What is HackRx?
“As far as we know, we’re the first hackathon in Canada to focus on the intersection of pharmacy and technology,” Kate Lim says. “Since our event is virtual, we’re inviting participants from across the country.”
The event kicks off on a Friday evening where students will hear a keynote address from a leader in health tech. That’s followed by a networking session where students meet others, share interests, and form a group.
“Our theme is about solving problems related to communication,” says Kate. “Are there limitations in communication between the health-care provider and the patient? Or between health-care providers, of the same or different professions? HackRx is an opportunity to dive deep into these problems and come up with solutions.”
The planning group hopes that diversity of participants will make for dynamic groups.
“You can register as a solo participant as part of a group. The event presents an opportunity to meet people with different skillsets from across the country, so we encourage participants to make new connections and leverage each other’s expertise,” says Kate.
On Saturday, groups can participant in workshops of their choosing, run by leaders in health and technology fields. There will be technical workshops on computer science and engineering, geared to science and health students and health-care oriented workshops for those outside of health-related programs. Throughout the weekend, groups will devise a solution to the problem they identified. They’ll present those solutions on Sunday, and outstanding presentations will receive prizes.
Should I participate?
“You don’t need any hackathon experience to participate in this event,” says Kate. “Our goal is to create a friendly and exciting environment. If you’re interested in having a say in how technological innovation in health happens, this event is for you.”
Similarly, Kate says HackRx will be of interest to engineering and computer science students because it provides the opportunity to learn more about the health sector from students with experience working in it.
“Technology is only going to grow more important to the delivery of health-care,” says Kate. “We want students to feel comfortable embracing it and to be a part of shaping what that technology will look like.”