How to make hospitals even more senior friendly with a Hackathon

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People building things out of wood using a soldering iron
Picture: Waag (cc by-nc-sa)

Between the 4th and 6th of February, Waag supported the Spaarne Gasthuis hospital in organizing a hackathon. In a hackathon, people from different backgrounds and expertise work together for a short and intensive period to identify and tackle concrete challenges. The concepts that are conceived do not just remain on paper, but are actually created in tangible versions or prototypes. In this hackathon, the central question was: How do we make Spaarne Gasthuis an even more senior friendly hospital?

Additional expertise
Nurses, department heads, communication staff, designers, artists and developers were all represented in the hackathon. One designed said: “I am involved in designing for care, but I am actually quite far away from the actual hospital and care professionals”. Others recognised this dilemma and nodded in agreement. Healthcare professionals shared that they have a lot of ideas but sometimes miss the help to take those ideas further. That was also one of the reasons why they signed up for the hackathon. Bringing these groups together is not only logical, but is also the perfect recipe for innovation in healthcare. Especially when you complement this cooperation with other expertise from developers and artists. The different perspectives really lead to more valid ideas and solutions.

The Makercart
An important ingredient for this hackathon was the Makercart from Bart Bakker. That is a cart with a 3D printer, laser cutter, and vinyl cutter. Thanks to these digital means of manufacturing we can, as Janine Huizinga aptly put it, “take ideas out of our heads and further explore and improve them in tangible form.” The mobile cart was not only used a lot, but also attracted a lot of attention. You can actually create your own cart because Bart also shares the blueprint online on his website.

Concepts
The teams have been co-creating solutions like:

  • A board with which informal caregiver and nurses can use to coordinate task division in the hospital;
  • Aids that support patients to find their way to the toilet at night and, at least as important, back to their room;
  • An exploration how the food-tray, which is on the bedside 3 times a day, can also motivate patients to become more active;
  • A concept that can be used to discuss the experience of patients groups that are less comfortable with filling in feedback forms;
  • And much more!

What’s next?
The hackathon was limited to two and a half days of hard work. Through the project Made4you, Waag will now further explore how we can benefit from the innovative strength of these types of collaborations more structurally, and how we can reinforce them with knowledge and expertise relating to digital fabrication. Spaarne Gasthuis will also go on to explore in which form the strengths of the hackathon can be embedded in the hospital organisation. By doing so, we both aim to bring many more ideas for meaningful healthcare solutions out of our heads, and into our hands.

For pictures of the hackathon, go to the Flickr album.

Text: Jurre Ongering, Pictures: Waag (cc by-nc-sa)

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