Pharmacists invited to help hack pain


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Sydney has just had its first pharmacy hackathon, and now it’s set to see the world’s first hackathon for Chronic Pain, where organisers hope to develop a minimum viable prototype of an app that addresses the lifestyle, social and psychological needs of people living with chronic pain.

Organiser and “hackevangelist” Anne-Marie Elias told the AJP that chronic pain stakeholders are keen to shake up current approaches to pain management.

“I spoke at the Chronic Pain conference last year, where they were asking a lot of questions about how we could do things differently,” says Elias, a disruption enthusiast and TedX speaker who co-organised the Techfugees and Govhack events, and in 2014 founded The Collective NSW.

“I talked there about disruption and how to collaborate across sectors. Then they approached me about running a chronic pain hackathon, bringing in people with chronic pain to pitch their story and solutions and work with developers over a weekend to create new solutions.”

Elias says that tech solutions could be particularly useful in addressing issues such as isolation.

“It’s a major issue – a sufferer of chronic pain can’t go out all the time, can’t have a social life, can’t even commit to an event at a later date because they don’t know what their pain is going to be doing,” she says.

“So how can we create a community of people who can support each other, not just in Australia, but globally? Or people want more tracking devices – we already have things like Fitbits; why not use that data so that a person can log their pain daily and be able to give a specialist that history?

“We don’t know what’s possible over this weekend, but we’re going to go for it.”

Elias says she hopes that pharmacists will attend the event, alongside web designers, graphic designers, coders and pain patients.

“I love pharmacists because they’re the easiest people to talk to,” she says. “When somebody doesn’t have access to a specialist, the pharmacist is the best person they can go to and get information.

“I actually wish pharmacists had more responsibility and power, to be honest, because they could do a lot more to help with the health crisis we’re having.

“I was at PharmHack and was in heaven to see pharmacists co-designing with techies, and I’d love to see it again because they understand the pain journey and the medicines and alternatives that are available.”

Entrants and donors are invited to register for the hackathon, which will be held this weekend (May 20-22) at Fishburners in Sydney as a leadup to July’s National Pain Week.

Prizes of $6,000 are being offered.

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