Pharmacists set to get hacking

Pharmhack winners

Australia’s pharmacy hack-a-thon is on again, giving pharmacists the chance to showcase their ingenuity

In April 2015, Australia’s first pharmacy hack-a-thon, called PharmHack, was held in Sydney.

Now the event is set to come to Melbourne on March 3-5 this year.

Founder and pharmacist Sabrine Elkhodr says that the beauty of the PharmHack experience is that it gives pharmacists “who otherwise operate in highly regulated and inflexible work situations, the breathing space to try out an idea that’s been sitting in the back of their minds”.

“It lets them play with new ideas without the risk that usually comes along with creating a startup,” she told the AJP.

“PharmHack gives pharmacists the license to be deeply creative, entrepreneurial and showcase their problem-solving skills in a controlled, supportive environment.”

In hack-a-thons, teams are organically created on the day, ideally with experts from different areas – such as software engineers, pharmacists and engineers – who then brainstorm an idea and create a working prototype during the course of a couple of intense days.

They’re not for the conservative but for people who want to embrace the future, Ms Elkhodr says.

“I find that pharmacists largely fit into one of two camps: those who are excited about future possibilities within the pharmacy industry and those who just want things to stay the same,” she says.

“PharmHack is definitely not for the latter nor would we try to bring such people in because they wouldn’t benefit from the experience!

“The event is aimed purely and solely at those within the pharmacy industry who see all of the gaps and are entrepreneurial and courageous enough to try and fill them. PharmHack brings the would-be entrepreneurs out of the woodwork and gives them the tools to get started.”

Last year’s event was won by Rhys Deimel, Kristen Scheer Deimel, Melody Smith and Navya Chalasani (pictured), who created a pregnancy app, “Checked Up!”

“Aside from the adrenalin rush that comes from simply being a part of a hackathon, the greatest highlight was seeing the effect that PharmHack had on participants,” says Ms Elkhodr.

“Every pharmacist participant that I spoke to was positively impacted in some way; it gave them the confidence to try new things and some of them took the plunge and started their own businesses or ventures afterwards.”

Ms Elkhodr says she’s optimistic about the future of pharmacy, particularly after seeing the creativity of members of the profession in action last year.

“On the surface, there seem to be plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the future of pharmacy but the reality is, people will always need treatment for their illnesses,” she says.

“The pharmacy world of 2030 will look very different to the pharmacy of today but it will still exist simply because it has to.

“So though there may be many threats to the future of pharmacy, there are also countless opportunities for those who are willing to think outside the box a little.”

PharmHack is also currently seeking sponsors. View its video here.

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