Aging-focused track, co-sponsored by MeHI (Massachusetts eHealth Institute) and Benchmark Senior Living, brought together teams of innovators.
|Laurance Stuntz, director of MeHI and Earl “Duke” Collier, Managing Director of Innovation at Benchmark Senior Living at the Virtual Grand Hack 2020.|
This fall, MeHI (Massachusetts eHealth Institute) and Benchmark Senior Living co-sponsored a track at the annual MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack event focused on the ‘Future of Aging.’ The annual event virtually brought together some of the brightest innovators from across the world to ideate around specific healthcare challenges presented by sponsors, including MeHI.
In addition to the focus on aging, this year’s challenges included:
- ‘Access To Healthcare During COVID-19,’
- ‘Digital Clinical Measures Of Activity,’; and
- ‘Customized Cancer Care.’
Over the course of 48 hours, Grand Hack particpants were called upon to learn about their challenge areas, conceive a technical solution, form teams, and design their prototypes. Through past Grand Hack events, several teams have taken their ideas from the challenge and gone on to form incredibly successful ventures, including Massachusetts startupsPillPack (acquired by Amazon for over $1 billion), PatientPing, and Wellist.
MeHI director Laurance Stuntz provided keynote remarks at the event, Earl “Duke” Collier, Managing Director of Innovation at Benchmark Senior Living served as a judge for the ‘Future of Aging’ track. The organizaitons also identified 10 mentors to serve as resources to Grand Hack participants to help refine their innovations prior to pitching their solutions to the judging panel. Mentors from the Massachusetts digital health ecosystem included:
- Molly Evans, Executive Office of Elder Affairs;
- Sinan Erzurumlu, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at Babson College;
- Carrie Earle Allen and Danielle D. Duplin, AGENCY@Cambridge innovation Center (CIC), an aging-focused innovation hub; and
- Steven Lee, cofounder of ianacare, a platform for family caregivers and the winner of the Anthem 2020 Fast Track to Scale Accelerator.
MeHI also created and ran a workshop to emphasize specific challenges for participants in the aging track. The workshop was moderated by Danielle Duplin, Co-Founder and Global Director of AGENCY @CIC and featured a distinguished panel of three speakers who each highlighted an issue within the aging track that participants could prioritize:
- Connectivity: Robin Lipson, Deputy Secretary at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs;
- Brain Health: Ipsit Vahia, MD, Medical Director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.; and
- Family Caregiver Support: Steven Lee, co-founder of ianacare.
MeHI and Benchmark supported teams working on ideas ranging from early testing of the blood brain barrier for specific ALZ treatment to mobile apps that assist caregivers with addressing mental health challenges. The weekend event culminated with teams presenting their ideas to a panel of expert judges.
The winners of the ‘Future of Aging’ track at the 2020 Grand Hack event were:
- DiaSense – a remote early diagnostic tool using vibration and temperature perception testing to monitor progression of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy;
- POP-3D – a 3-D printed pessary to address pelvic organ prolapse; and
- VirtualHug.ai – an efficient and easy way to monitor the mental state of elderly individuals accesible to caregivers via a platform to express affection, attention, and positive reinforcement.
Although only three winners could be named, we were delighted by the opportunity to share the healthcare challenges faced by older adults with so many bright and energetic minds. We hope that this event and the ideas we all shared will spur further innovation and entrepreneurship in this space and look forward to continued work with other hackathons,” said Laurance Stuntz, director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute.
“It’s often difficult, however, for innovators — so many of whom are young – to understand the problems that need to be solved. But the energy and creativity of the teams at the Hack showed me and my colleagues that digital innovation and innovators are catching up. Congratulations to the MIT Hacking Medicine team for putting a spotlight on the opportunities that exist to meet seniors’ physical and emotional needs,” said Duke Collier, Managing Director of Innovation at Benchmark Senior Living and Chair Emeritus of the Innovation Advisory Board of Mass General Brigham.
To learn more about the MIT Grand Hack, visit https://grandhack.mit.edu/boston/.