How A2 Health Hacks Started

A2 Health Hacks started as a passion project between four Ann Arborites interested in solving problems in healthcare and bringing the community together to do it.

We had our first meeting in September. Britt was in Mozambique. In October, she and Beatrix got inspired by Cleveland Medical Hackathon. In November, Neelima and Britt joined the meeting from Senegal. Diane joined from across the US. Throughout, our team has made it a point to make this event happen, from wherever we found ourselves.

Plans truly started to formalize in January. We had reached out across the state, country, and even over the border and found that there was no event that fit our criteria of bringing together the Ann Arbor and surrounding communities to think about preventive health and to do so at no cost to participants. To move forward, we established Ann Arbor Health Hacks as a formal non-profit with the mission to bring together the broader Ann Arbor community across academics and professionals in healthcare, tech, data sciences, business, and other roles to think about health in local and global settings and prototype solutions over an annual two-day hackathon.

In The Press

The first annual Ann Arbor Health Hackathon brought together medical professionals, software engineers, public health workers among others to brainstorm solutions to global healthcare problems from Friday to Saturday in Palmer Commons.

The “hackathon” included 24 hours of health-related “hacking,” which involved teams pitching ideas and creating prototypes for solutions to health problems. The event focused on preventing disease in underserved areas of the developing world.

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Teams Innovate, Create At Ann Arbor Health Hackathon

A kid-friendly mobile app giving children the power to participate in research studies to improve their health won first place at the inaugural Ann Arbor Health Hackathon: Prototyping Disease Prevention, co-sponsored WDI.

The round-the-clock event, held June 24-26 on the University of Michigan campus, drew 91 participants who formed 18 teams comprised of students, researchers, and professionals from the biomedical, engineering, IT, business, clinical, design, and public health sectors. Hackathon judges awarded prizes for first, second and third places, as well as a Cardiovascular Prize. Participants voted on a People’s Choice Prize. Teams were assisted by more than 40 mentors who wandered the room, listened to the groups and provided feedback.

The second-place team created a virtual reality app to help patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, while the third-place team developed a personalized, real-time motion capture application to improve physical therapy. The Cardiovascular Prize went to a team that developed an easy-to-understand, paper-based test to signal onset of atherosclerosis – the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances on the artery walls. Finally, the People’s Choice Prize went to a team that worked to connect transportation and grocery stores to increase access to nutritious food.

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Cardiovascular Center Co-Sponsors Ann Arbor Health Hackathon

The first annual Ann Arbor Health Hackathon brought together medical professionals, software engineers and public health workers, among others, to brainstorm solutions to global healthcare problems.

The “hackathon” included 24 hours of health-related “hacking,” which involved teams pitching ideas and creating prototypes for solutions to health problems. The event focused on preventing disease in underserved areas of the developing world.

Read The Full Article

Who We Are

Beatrix BaloghSystems Engineer, Georgia Institute of Technology, MSHS
I always knew I wanted to help others, I just didn’t know in what capacity. Getting the opportunity to study applied mathematics with a focus on biological systems showed me that I can use my analytical mindset and work alongside clinicians and policy researchers to better understand current, and future, health systems. My current research in public health markets has helped me put those skills to use and my further studies in health system design will help me better understand how to create better access to health for those that need it the most.
My belief is that community is key, and my reason for wanting to get involved in A2H2 is to further develop collaboration in the Ann Arbor area. There are an immense amount of organizations and companies doing really amazing work in health, but a lack of an avenue of sharing between them. If unique minds and skillsets are given the opportunity to work together, then some great ideas and solutions can develop to help improve access to health.
Britt G. JohnsonSupply Chain Manager, Amazon
Moonlights in work on health commodity supply chains through her work at Integral Chain.
As a supply chain manager, I’ve always loved problem solving and understanding how small changes can affect the big picture. I am happiest incorporating large doses of analysis,strategy, data,creativity and discovery into my daily life. I also love learning about global issues and have spent the majority of my life working in international development.
When I was a student at MIT, I participated in a health hackathon. My team developed a phone app that allows doctors and patients to measure the amplitude of blood flow. Many major medical issues require diagnosis and monitoring of amplitude, among them diabetes, ulcers, cancer, peripheral vascular disease, and heart disease. In addition to creating a useful product, I had the opportunity to work with a group of people with new ideas and diverse backgrounds and skills. The two days were tough, I was in the middle of exams for my masters. But so invigorating and exciting. I knew I wanted to share this experience with the greater Ann Arbor community.
Diane BouisDirector Innovation Programs, The Inovo Group
I told people I wanted to cure cancer and AIDS at age 14 and clearly haven’t succeeded, but along the way – through an academic career in oncology and cardiology- I learned that great progress it’s not just about being smart but about engaging and inspiring others.
I now work as an innovation consultant and constantly and purposefully work with people from very diverse educational and personal backgrounds. I want to bring this spirit of diversity and innovation back to my first love: healthcare. For me, a healthcare hackathon is also great way to give back to my community: the healthcare folks (in and outside of academia), the crazy innovators as well as the town and region that has become my home: SE Michigan.
Neelima RamarajuDirector of Global Health Applications, LLamasoft
As an Industrial Engineer, I’ve always been interested in finding the most efficient way to do things. A career in healthcare consulting led me to recognize the many opportunities for process and design improvements in healthcare. A passion for global development steered me towards working on improving health supply chains for developing countries across the globe.
The same interest in continuous improvement and passion for making the world a better place led to my involvement in A2 Health Hacks. During my time in Southeast Michigan and working in global health, I’ve come across so many people with great ideas but not necessarily working together. I believe that the most effective teams are often the most diverse teams. So what better way to solve pressing healthcare issues other than by bringing together a diverse group of smart and talented folks!

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