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February 15, 2017

AKU hackathon generates unique design ideas for children’s hospital

Karachi

 
February 15, 2017

Imagine a hospital designed by a child, for a child. Instead of white walls, there are imaginative paintings and vibrant images all around. Uninspiring waiting areas are replaced with entertainment zones where children can play and learn, and the hospital’s atmosphere is specially designed to make children feel at home.

That’s what a children’s hospital of the future looks like; according to children, doctors, nurses, engineers, entrepreneurs, architects and other professionals who came together to design a kids’ healthcare centre of the future at the first-ever paediatric hackathon hosted by Aga Khan University (AKU), Hack Paeds 2017. 

The three-day event saw over 110 participants of all ages and a variety of disciplines collaborate to develop innovative proposals that could be introduced at the AKUH’s planned 12-storey Children’s Hospital.   

Participants worked over three days and were assisted by 12 mentors with backgrounds as diverse as entrepreneurship, architecture and design, business, and paediatric medicine. 

Divided into 16 teams, the participants developed a variety of ideas aimed at improving the hospital experience for children. Some teams worked to adapt medical instruments like stethoscopes so that it would be easier to measure a sick child’s heartbeat. Others sought to create innovative designs for brightly coloured ‘medical flaps’ that would help doctors insert a cannula without alarming a child. 

Away from devices, other teams developed systems to improve child protection services for vulnerable kids and ways to help children keep up with schoolwork while admitted to hospital. “The purpose of this hackathon is to pool together different types of expertise to create innovative proposals for a state-of-the-art and cost-effective hospital that will feel familiar and comfortable to a child,” said Dr Salman Kirmani, chair of the Department of Paediatrics at Aga Khan University. 

Judges at the event scored each team’s solution on the basis of healthcare impact, innovation, business model, child-centricity and presentation skills. Teams that won the top prizes at the hackathon were – ‘Stealth’: a wearable belt that enables computer analysis of heart conditions. The device aims to reduce errors in the manual diagnosis of heart disease; ‘Genesis’: a system using virtual reality technology to entertain children admitted to hospital; and ‘Onco-Buzz’: an application that provides information to families whose child is suffering from cancer to help them maintain the continuity of treatment.