breathe-hackathonHackathons are one of the more powerful ways for universities and businesses to collaborate with a wide and diverse audience.  In recent years they have been used to tackle a wide range of issues, from HR to climate change to gender equality in coding.

Healthcare has undoubtedly taken to the hackathon concept, whether through the regular NHS Hack Days in Britain or the CI Hackfests in the United States.  

“Bringing people together from various industries and backgrounds to tackle some of healthcare’s biggest issues while focusing on the patient consumer is the only way we can create a more effective system. The more we can understand the end human being and get in their head, the more likely we can develop something they will actually use,” Sean Slovenski, CEO of Care Innovations said before the recent CI Hackfest.

Hacking Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affecting roughly one in ten adults over the age of 40, it is an issue that fully deserves input and insight from far and wide.  The recent BREATHE Respiratory Hackathon that was hosted at the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace brought together engineers, technicians, designers, medics, patients and innovators to try and come up with interesting and unique solutions.

The aim was very much to devise ways and means to improve the lives of the millions of people around the world who suffer from COPD and similar respiratory diseases.

The weekend began with patients describing many of the problems and challenges they face when living with COPD.  Participants were then divided up into teams and given complete freedom to come up with as many solutions as they could over the course of the weekend, before then pitching their work to the audience at the close of the event.

The teams were able to build upon a range of existing technologies that had been donated by industry partners.  The ‘winning’ team were Team Pro-Lung Experience, who developed a game for young children who are vulnerable to smoking to try and discourage them from picking up the habit.

The team then went on to present their concept at the European Respiratory Society Congress in Amsterdam in late September 2015, where Europe’s leading researchers in the field were gathered.

The video below sees a number of participants from the event, including world renowned respiratory medicine expert Professor Peter John Barnes, talk about the key role events such as BREATHE play in fostering innovation and collaboration, especially in combatting respiratory illnesses.

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