Besides being from Brazil, they are all motivated to work together and find new ways to make an impact on healthcare in their country.
“A while ago my grandma suffered from a serious health problem and needed to receive oxygen during the days she spent at the hospital. I was the only person who could be there for her and I remember having to adjust the cylinder all the time to make sure she was receiving enough air to breathe”, said designer Eduardo Wolk. Eduardo is no doctor or nurse, but his experience inspired one of the winning projects from the Hack4Health competition.
Last week, more than 70 people including technology professionals, engineers, designers, and doctors spent three days in São Paulo working on projects to solve some of the country’s biggest healthcare issues. Called the Hack4Health, the first healthcare ‘hackathon’ to be held in the country, this diverse group of brilliant minds was challenged to create new ways to facilitate the integration of hospital and home care in just 27 hours.
Oxiot was the name given to Eduardo’s innovative home care solution. It measures the flow of oxygen the patient is receiving and generates data that can show if that amount is ideal for the patient. It prevents gas waste and helps avoid unnecessary expenses. The same idea could be implemented in hospitals, where Oxiot could reduce the costs associated with providing oxygen by around 30%.
The healthcare challenges that face a country as diverse as Brazil are a little different from nations like the UK or the US. The Brazilian population is aging particularly fast: projections show that it will be in decline by 2040 after reaching a maximum of around 219 million1. The 13.2 million senior citizens of Brazil will grow to nearly 50 million in that time, almost quadrupling in number.
Healthcare, and healthcare investment, will need to be very different from today’s to cater to this future Brazil. Public and Private healthcare intuitions are faced with designing and implementing national strategies for elderly care. This includes improving primary health care through home health care provisions. Today, more than 600,000 Brazilians receive care at home through this system, which has grown by 20% in the last 5 years2. The solutions designed at the Hack4Health event reflect these evolving needs.
“Clearly the country age pyramid is beginning to invert. As elderly populations grow, the need for better and smarter home care solutions increases along with it”, commented Felipe Rizzo, Solutions Director at GE Healthcare in Latin America. The company not only challenged the Hack4Health participants to create new healthcare solutions, but also sent its experts to act as mentors for them.
Besides Oxiot, another wining idea was the iCare, which aims to provide more accurate data to home care providers. iCare is a platform whose goal is to create an enhanced interface between operators and homecare solutions, generating reports, alerts and improved management of information, ensuring that treatment initially scheduled for the patient is actually being fulfilled. Both iCare and Oxiot will be mentored by GE during the next six months while they will be further developing and testing their ideas. After the end of this period, a more robust project will be presented to a board of executives at the Global Research Center in Rio de Janeiro.
“GE is moving into a new era of the Industrial Internet, where there is more than just the machines, there’s information coming from them that can be captured to improve efficiency, reduce costs, improve diagnosis and also save lives”, said Felipe Rizzo.
“We are changing industries and minds. This Hackathon, and events like it, is what we need right now to open the gateways to the digital world”, Rizzo concluded.
1 – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), 2014
2 – Brazilian Home Care Business Association (NEAD), 2014