‘11 prototypes that each have the potential to completely disrupt the pharmacy industry.’

Pharmhack winners

The world’s first pharmacy hackathon saw more than 100 participants and observers scramble to form ideas, create teams and then put together working prototypes of pharmacy-related innovations, all within 36 hours.

“Pharmacy is a cottage industry that is seeing unprecedented change and is struggling to cope with it,” says Sabrine Elkhodr, pharmacist and founder of HealthClick, which with innovation firm Disruptor’s Handbook put the event together.

“The future of pharmacy in Australia is incredibly uncertain and is only ever guaranteed for five years at a time.

“We like to talk about innovation a lot, but PharmHack is an attempt to take all that that talk and translate it into solid, actionable goals.

“In just 36 hours, we generated 11 prototypes that each have the potential to completely disrupt the pharmacy industry. At PharmHack, we walk the talk.”

The winning team (pictured) was Checked Up! which created “the app for when you’re knocked up”. Team members were Rhys Deimel, Kristen Scheer Deimel, Melody Smith and Navya Chalasani.

“The beauty of CheckedUp is that is takes a very big problem (that is, the transfer of wearables data between patient and healthcare team) and targets it at a very niche demographic: pregnant women,” says Elkhodr.

“The best part was seeing how the team evolved over a 24-hour period. When the CheckedUp team initially spoke to me on the first day of the hackathon, their idea was quite broad but over the course of a discussion, we ended up agreeing that focusing on a very small demographic who were already very engaged with their health (ie pregnant women)would give them a chance to validate their idea before expanding.

“That’s the magical thing about hackathons—it’s such an intense environment, that teams need to work out exactly who their target market is very quickly to have a chance at winning.”

Corporate innovation specialist Gavin Heaton wrote a wrapup of the event on LinkedIn in which he said that PharmHack was “no glossy TV commercial”.

“The reality of innovation is much scrappier, more intense and far more personal than the government’s advertising and media coverage would suggest,” he wrote.

“A hackathon involves a cast of ill-fitting collaborators finding a way to work towards an uncertain future. It’s hard, tiring and confronting work without a brand, a budget or a buyer in sight.

“It means coming up with an idea and seeing it through. It means pitching it to a room full of strangers. It means putting your money where your mouth is.

“PharmHack kicked off with a rundown of the weekend’s process and a call out for project leaders. We had already asked registered participants to share their ideas and challenges – but it’s one thing to write a few words on a Facebook page, and quite another to stand in front of a crowd of strangers and share your vision for a new business.

“From the dozen or so ideas pitched, 10 teams were formed. In almost every case, these people had never met before.

“From these ideas, new projects – and perhaps even new businesses – were hatched over the course of the weekend.”

Elkhodr told the AJP that more PharmHack events are planned – and soon.

“We’ve already had several requests to host PharmHack in Melbourne, New Zealand and even in London,” she says. “The second Pharmhack will likely be held in Melbourne later this year.

“The most satisfying part about PharmHack has been the feedback we’ve had from pharmacist participants who felt that, for the first time, they were free to build ideas that they’d held onto for a long time but had no clue how to develop.

“Several people have messaged me to ask when the next hackathon is because they’ve been bitten by the hackathon bug and they want more of it!”

The winners were:

  • First: Checked Up! The app for when you’re knocked up.
  • Second: ScriptNow – connecting every patient to every pharmacy to get the right medicine right now.
  • Third: TravelBug – like a Google Translator for medicines.


Participating teams included:

  • Cureosity – Helping customers “Beat the Q for Pharmacies”.
  • DLCR – Driver’s License Card Reader.
  • Little Pink Book – Sexual health advice from friendly AI bots for girls 10-25.
  • PharmaBuy – Group buying platform for independent pharmacies.
  • Pharmafone – Allows patients to get medicines fast by sending a photo of their prescriptions to local pharmacies.
  • Phinder – an accessible recruitment platform for pharmacists.
  • HealthTree – LinkedIn for healthcare professionals.
  • Realtime Data – inventory management for pharmacies.


PharmHack participants

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  1. Andrew Topp

    How is a pregnancy app, designed to support a pregnant woman during her pregnancy (of which there are hundreds on the Appstore, not to mention myriad websites, blogs and forums providing opportunities for sharing and feedback) going to disrupt pharmacy? I don’t want to detract from the skills and intelligence of designers, but my world is not going to come to an end because a pregnant woman is more empowered to ask questions and seek advice!

  2. Peter Allen

    The big disruption I foresee is a dispensing vending machine. We have had those in prototype for years.

  3. Sabrine Rose

    Hi Andrew
    Whilst I understand your view that there are already multiple apps that focus on optimising pregnancy, CheckedUp is an attempt to streamline the communication channels between women in a very sensitive period of their lives with their entire healthcare team ( their pharmacists included). With the emphasis on pharmacies providing services as a way of differentiating themselves ( and ensuring their survival moving forward), I’d say this is pretty good way to do that!
    Furthermore, CheckedUp was just one of eleven apps/tools constructed which were focused on pharmacy, pharmaceuticals and the pharmacist-led services. The intention of PharmHack was to provide a means for people to come up with ways that we can better engage patients, improve pharmacy efficiency and enhance interprofessional collaboration. We left it open for a reason- to enable creativity and true innovation and that’s exactly what we saw at Pharmhack.

  4. Jarrod McMaugh

    This is pretty good news.

    I would temper it with the point that disruption is intended to be about motivating an industry to change for the better. Some “advancements” are disruptive at the cost of the industry, and often at the cost of the people they are intending to service.

    For instance, the idea of an Uber service for pharmacy could potentially undermine the role of the pharmacist if a patient is not given the ability to access the pharmacist as part of the service (this is occuring with some version of this concept in the USA). I would also argue that accessing multiple pharmacies on the basis of price or speed of service alone may be, overall, detrimental to a patient’s health and wellbeing.

    Apart from this idea though, a pharmachack process is great and should be encouraged!

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