An app which makes it easier for sick consumers to get an absence from work certificate was named the winner in this year’s PharmHack

More than 50 participants and observers crowded into the startup space inspire9 to attend PharmHack Melbourne, only the second such event to be held in Australia.

Sponsored by MedAdvisor, the intense weekend-long program bridged the gap between digital innovators and pharmacists using startup tools, formats and innovation techniques. 

Judges drawn from the pharmacy industry included Josh Swinnerton, founder of MedAdvisor; Vladimir Finn, Founder of HMR Exchange and Hayden Cooke, CTO of Global Patient Portal.

After a panel discussion with the judges, titled “Will pharmacy catch the Silicon Valley bug?” the judges observed the Sunday afternoon pitches, deliberated and then awarded the top prize to the Sickie.

The Sickie is an app which allows sick workers to obtain sick certificates from their pharmacists through video consultation.

Within 24 hours, the Sickie team, comprised of developers Hong Yew and Kyle Mantesso, had a working prototype and had attracted significant attention from attending mentors and potential investors.

Built on the premise of convenience, Sickie provides sick workers with an option to conduct a video conference with a pharmacist and have their sick certificates issued via email without ever needing to leave their bed.

“Sickie is a beautiful example of the power that hackathons have to shake up entire industries,” said Sabrine Elkhodr, pharmacist and Founder of PharmHack.

“When you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is drag yourself out of bed and haul yourself into the doctor’s office for a little piece of paper.

“This team has built a simple, elegant solution to a problem that faces millions of workers every year.

“When you throw a bunch of intelligent problem-solvers with the right skill mix in a room for 36 hours, the breadth of opportunities for innovation are astounding.”

Hackathons are time-bound events that bring programmers, designers and business minds together to collaborate intensively on software projects. The inaugural PharmHack was held in Sydney last year with the top prize going to CheckedUp, a platform which connects pregnant women with their healthcare professionals by automatically sending important metrics from their wearables.

Gladys Chee, a pharmacist participant at PharmHack:Melbourne had heard about the Sydney event and decided to fly interstate to attend this year’s PharmHack.

“After seeing rave reviews all over Facebook about Pharmhack:Sydney, missing Pharmhack:Melbourne was not an option,” she said.

“Still, I attended with some trepidation—how would it be even possible to contribute in any meaningful manner when I had no ideas and no coding skills whatsoever?

“But the much raved about spirit of Pharmhack pulled through—within 20 minutes of arrival I had found another pharmacist to partner with, and decided on what would become our final idea.

“Half an hour after that, we were the biggest team, with a medical student and four developers in the mix”.

Ms Chee’s team, Next In Line, developed a platform which simplified the waiting process at hospitals and doctor’s surgeries. Patients with the app automatically receive a waiting time estimate so they can plan their day around doctor’s appointments accordingly.

“We ended up coming second, which exceeded my wildest dreams,” Ms Chee said. “But what was truly special about Pharmhack was how quickly it brought people together. I also discovered skills I didn’t even know I had!”

Deepak Prakash, who led the Next in Line team, said of the app that, “it enables cancer patients to spend time where they want to spend it, its a queuing app which enables them to know when they’re next in queue so they can come to their clinic in time.

“It tracks delays ahead of time.”

Other participating team projects included:

DischargeBuddy- a platform which streamlines and speeds up the hospital discharge process and keeps patients informed throughout.

Pharmer’s Market: an on-demand marketplace for locum pharmacists.

POD: a marketplace for accredited pharmacists and platform that facilitates the seamless exchange of HMR referrals.