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.