For many years the focus of hackathons was on the development of hardware and software for tech such as TechCrunch’s Disrupt Hackathon. Recently, however, this trend has begun to expand to appeal to a broader population with the inclusion of civic based hackathons such as MIT’s Hacking Medicine. Developers, engineers, and designers are coming together with health sectors, in the spirit of collaboration, to host health related hackathons, and explore different ways to develop new technological advances with regards to technology and processes that’ll further expand their breakthroughs.

After having attended a wide variety of tech and health focused hackathons, it was interesting to see how the two areas work in harmony and seamlessly blend in with one another in order to breed a beautiful form of creativity and forward thinking. In my opinion, it is very difficult to come up with something new when you do not have the opportunity to brainstorm with other bright minds outside of your area of expertise; different opinions and experiences can lead to a unique perspective and thus creativity is bred for the sake of advancement. I’ve had the opportunity to work with developers, engineers, clinicians, and designers within both the tech and healthcare realms, and it is mind blowing to be exposed to the various ideas that are brought to the table from all these different perspectives and skill-sets. Your own personal thoughts are broadened and opened up to new ways of design and patient-centered thinking; you begin to realize that there are so many amazing things that you can do with this opportunity and knowledge.

Neil deGrasse Tyson had David Byrne on his StarTalk Radio Show this past December and their discussion really shed some light on why it is important to combine design thinking with science, and get people from different disciplines working together on the needs of the people and industry. At one point Byrne said, “Bringing different worlds together has definite, tangible benefits. And to cut one or separate them is to injure them and cripple them.”

This is the key! This is why hackathons can be amazing. They help provide a safe and encouraging community that is unique for the participants; it invites them to come and learn new things from very knowledgeable people. It helps mold already bright minds in order to generate radical ideas that will ultimately impact many lives for the better.

Image courtesy of Global Cancer Innovation Hack-a-thon.