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The Medical Device "Plug-and-Play" (MD PnP) Interoperability Program is promoting innovation in patient safety and clinical care by leading the adoption of secure patient-centric integration of medical devices and IT systems in clinical environments.


Hackathon 2013


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MD PnP Program
65 Landsdowne St., Suite 200
Cambridge, MA  02139

Julian M. Goldman, MD
Program Director

Drayton Freeman
Program Assistant

As an outreach initiative to disseminate QMDI project artifacts to the broader community, the MD PnP team hosted a Hackathon weekend event with a focus on interoperability in November 2013. The MD PnP team formed a partnership with Hacking Medicine, who shared their experience with hosting numerous hackathon events. Undergraduates from top Boston area colleges with a passion for improving healthcare were invited to apply to participate in the weekend event alongside mentors who came from diverse areas of health care. Hosted at the MD PnP Interoperability Lab and the Harvard i-Lab, the students and mentors worked through the weekend to brainstorm solutions to specific pain points they selected. While the scheduled event culminated in final presentations summarizing the teams’ work, the effort and connections made during the weekend will provide continued long-term benefits.

The Hackathon event was organized as an outreach event with the primary goal of disseminating the MD PnP program work to a broader community. The student outcomes served as examples for how outside entities and individuals can build on the MD PnP work. The event also allowed the team to identify individuals who may be candidates for future internships or full time hires.

For the students involved, the weekend provide a unique opportunity to gain hands-on exposure to healthcare needs and new cutting edge research being performed to address them. The event also enabled students to learn about different career paths in health care and opportunities to network with both the MD PnP team and a diverse group of professionals working in health care.

The partnering organizations who helped in organizing and hosting the event with MD PnP included:

A number of other sponsors helped support the materials and nourishment throughout the weekend, including:
• Baker Foundation

Of more than 100 applicants who applied, 62 undergraduate students were selected to attend the weekend. While a majority of the students who attended are current students at MIT or Harvard, additional top regional colleges were also represented. The number of different majors among the applicants provided a strong foundation for diverse teams and unique perspectives.

The weekend event began with a motivating kickoff that included a presentation from Dr. Julian Goldman. Dr. Goldman shared a high level overview of some of the challenges of interoperability and the work of the MD PnP team. During the kickoff, the Hacking Medicine team provided an introduction to students participating in a hackathon style event for the first time.

Students were then invited to join the MD PnP technical team in a tour of the lab facility. Following an introduction of the QMDI project, students were introduced to specific pain points as described in the Clinical Scenarios. Jeff Plourde, Dave Arney, and Victoria Lin each presented short demonstrations that included introductions to example medical devices in the lab, such as infusion pumps and bedside monitors.

Following the hands-on lab tour, students and mentors mingled to discuss the presentations and brainstorm pain points that could serve as a starting point for the weekend work. Individuals were invited to pitch their ideas to the group as a means of facilitating team formation.

Students and mentors focused the remainder of the weekend on hacking! There was an opportunity to work one-on-one with the mentors and with the MD PnP technical team to learn more about specific medical devices, healthcare processes and roles.

The culmination of the weekend occurred at the Harvard iLab, where student teams presented their work, including their plans for future progress. All of the top prizes went to teams that had done projects at the MD PnP Lab.