Press release: Innovative ideas require interdisciplinary teams: first Hacking Health Hackathon produces impressive results for patients and clinicians

From December 1 to 3, the joint technology transfer unit of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Berlin Institute of Health, Berlin Health Innovations, teamed up with Hacking Health to hold the first-ever Hacking Health Hackathon. The hackathon saw 15 interdisciplinary teams develop new digital tools for innovation in healthcare. Three winning projects were selected on December 3. Each winning team received a cash prize and post-hackathon mentoring for the further development of their ideas.

Some 80 people participated in the first-ever Hacking Health Hackathon, which featured three predefined topic areas: hardware tools for healthcare professionals inside the operating room; digital tools to empower patient living with diabetes; and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve clinical decision-making. Teams had 42 hours to hack out ideas and produce prototypes for their new tools. The extraordinary event brought together patients and clinical experts possessing a wide range of practical experience and medical and scientific knowledge in pursuit of a common goal – developing innovations that will benefit patients. The grand finale took place on December 3, when all teams presented their hardware prototypes, apps, and other digital solutions. The best ideas were then selected by a jury of ten experts.

“Berlin Health Innovations’ mission is to encourage scientists and clinicians to use the latest digital innovations and to support new start-ups,” says Dr. Rolf Zettl, CFO and head of technology transfer at the Berlin Institute of Health. “I was really impressed with the commitment shown by all participants and with the innovation potential of all the interdisciplinary teams. The remarkable results are proof that digital medicine can quickly lead to groundbreaking innovations for patients.”

Dr. Peter Gocke, Chief Digital Officer at Charité, emphasized in his keynote speech: “Digital medicine relies on people being willing to participate in interdisciplinary work. Today, it is more important than ever to work together to push ideas forward. The Hacking Health Hackathon offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen motivation and create innovations.” Gocke also called on everyone to persevere in pursuit of their ideas.

The winning teams

The best three teams were announced on December 3 following the presentations. As well as cash prizes of €2,500, €2,000 and €1,500, the winning teams will also receive mentoring support from Hacking Health and Berlin Health Innovations in order to further develop their ideas.

First place: “jvpQuant”: accurate, non-invasive measurement of central venous pressure

Daniel Wendisch, Charité
Jakob Edding, HPI
Marius Danner, HPI
Johan Dettmar; Web Developer
Jose Luis Holgado; ‎Robotics Engineer

This tool uses a camera and recordings of movement and changes in blood volume to non-invasively measure central venous pressure (CVP). CVP measurements are currently carried out via central venous catheters in recumbent patients. If the venous pressure is too high or too low, this may be symptomatic of various heart or lung diseases. The measurement therefore serves mainly to detect certain diseases at an early stage. The team was composed of computer science, physics, and data science students as well as a physician and a robotics engineer. They presented their ideas and a functioning prototype. The jury confirmed that the team’s tool provides a solution to a major medical need. One member of the team was Daniel Wendisch from Charité.

Second place: “Siebenschläfer”: relaxation aid for patients before and after an operation

Sascha Lieber, Charité
Ruben Alexander Dreymann, User Experience Designer
Emanuel Metzenthin, HPI
Moritz Hartmann, HPI
Luise Benkert, HPI
Christian Deuter, Charité

While operations may be routine procedure for surgeons, they are a cause of stress and uncertainty for many patients. Using virtual reality glasses and noise-canceling headphones, this tool helps to reduce stress in patients. The team behind this innovative tool comprised a physician, a designer, a psychologist, and three engineers. The jury agreed that the team’s idea met an important medical need. One member of the team was Sascha Lieber from Charité.

Third place: “B.L.A.S.T.”: blood loss assessment in surgery and trauma

Yasmin Mulji, West Middlesx University Hospital
Gerald Vorderwülbecke, Charité
Chris Hardaker, Hardware Engineer, University of New Zealand
Wenzel Pünter, HPI
Simon Steiger, Harvard Medical School

High blood loss during surgery is a major challenge for medical teams. This real-time monitoring system enables precise control to be maintained over specific markers during an operation. The jury cited the invention’s high scalability and high impact potential as the basis for their decision.

The jury

  • Dr. med. Felix Balzer (Head of the research group “Data Science in Perioperative Care” at the Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin)
  • Tom Bocklisch (Founder of Scalable Minds)
  • Dr. Dorothee Deiss (Diabetologist, Endocrinologist and Pediatrician
  • Prof. Craig Curtis Garner (Founder of SPARK Berlin, Founder of three biotech companies)
  • Oliver Haferbeck (Principal European Markets of Senseonics Inc., Washington DC)
  • Stefan Hermann (Interface Designer)
  • Dr. Alexander Meyer (Clinician Scientist and Head of the research group “Data science in cardiovascular medicine” at the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery at the German Heart Center Berlin)
  • Dr. Klaus Nitschke (Director interim of Berlin Health Innovations und Senior Advisor Digital Health)
  • Magdalena Paluch (Strategic Design Director, BCG Digital Ventures)
  • Anette Ströh (incoming Design Lead, Health, Designit)

The Hacking Health Hackathon was supported by companies such as Roche, Barmer, T-Systems, Deloitte and the Technologie Stiftung Berlin.

Photos: Marco Schur