As the global population continues to explode, the world’s healthcare systems are straining to keep up with increased demand.
That’s why some outside-the-box thinking is necessary to keep the planet’s population healthy as it inches ever closer to 10 billion people.
Recently, at the second-annual Health++, Stanford’s Health Hackathon, some of the brightest engineering, product design and technology minds in the world came together to put their knowledge and passion to use in an attempt to alleviate some of the world’s heaviest health challenges.
More than 300 flocked from all corners of the globe to Stanford University in Stanford, California, for a caffeine-fueled weekend of coding and prototyping health tech products and apps. The following are six of our favorite innovations to come out of the hackathon.
One of the hackathon’s winners, YourPacifier is a smart pacifier that monitors an infant’s hydration levels. While in use, YourPacifier continually senses the humidity of a baby’s lips, sending gathered data to an accompanying app.
When an anomaly is detected, the app alerts the parents, prompting them to answer some basic questions, which then determines whether re-hydration or even hospitalization may be necessary. The pacifier even includes an oral rehydration solution, which can be automatically administered in the event the child becomes severely dehydrated.
The team was inspired to create YourPacifier after seeing many children with severe dehydration in hospitals in Asia and the Pacific Islands, and learning that dehydration and diarrhea kill more than half a million children under age 5 each year.
When faced with a sudden injury, seconds count in determining what steps are necessary to get the appropriate medical attention.
Mobile EMT is a mobile solution that provides doctors with real-time access to your vital signs from anywhere in the world.
The system allows doctors to evaluate patients remotely and determine whether specialist intervention or hospitalization is necessary, or provide general medical assistance.
The idea is to equip EMTs with an app and a wireless device capable of recording vital signs. The device’s findings are then broadcast to doctors who specialize in treating the specific condition afflicting the patient.
Chatbots are all the rage this year. MediBot harnesses that technology to give the nation’s 70 million low-income Medicaid patients easy access to detailed information on the program, as well as connect them to a physician who accepts it.
Using a Facebook Bot, patients can send messages 24 hours a day from anywhere to do everything from determine Medicaid eligibility, to find out who to call if you lose your insurance card. It even places automated calls on your behalf to check your Medicaid enrollment status.
The development team chose Medicaid recipients because they felt it’s a population currently underserved by innovators.
In the developing world, child malnourishment is a pervasive and deadly problem. In India, a lack of centralization of the government’s nutrition centers limits their usefulness, leaving children in desperate need going without treatment.
NutriLink allows users to locate the nearest government-run nutrition centers across India using Google Maps, displaying all local centers in an easy to read interface.
It can provide real-time information about capacity and bed availability at the centers, as well as contact information and directions.
As the world’s population ages, more people than ever are living with chronic medical conditions that need regular monitoring for the patient to stay healthy and live a longer life.
Leveraging Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, Alexassist is designed to help patients monitor their chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, with a simple, voice-controlled interface.
The program, built using a Raspberry Pi 3, can even alert relatives if the patient’s health takes a turn for the worse. It acts as a sort of virtual in-home healthcare provider, offering helpful reminders to users to take medication or test their blood glucose levels.
Found in Translation
Effectively communicating with a physician is a critical aspect of patient care, but what happens when the doctor and patient don’t speak the same language?
Enter Found in Translation, an app that acts as an interpreter, providing real-time translation of conversations between doctor and patient.
Using voice recognition and Google Translate, the app allows both parties to communicate freely — in their native languages — to impart critical health information or diagnoses.
These were just some of the products and apps the hackers created at this year’s event. The innovation on display is all the more impressive considering each team built or developed their ideas from scratch over the course of a weekend.
There’s truly some incredible thinking happening in the health tech space, and we expect we will continue to see even greater things to come.