MIT News: 3Q: Addressing structural racism in health care as an innovation opportunity

MIT News – Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) – October 9, 2020

Far-reaching effects of structural racism can be seen in all facets of American life. This year, as Americans witnessed widespread demonstrations stemming from racial injustice at the hands of officers in law enforcement, a ground swell of conversations about race and pleas for action emerged.

One area in which racism has had significant effects is health care equity, a fact that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of current events, members of the MIT community involved in the successful hackathons MIT Covid-19 Challenge and MIT Hacking Medicine sought to explore the role of racism embedded in U.S. health care structures. More specifically, how could they tear down racism in health care using proven hackathon methodology traditionally applied to other complex health care problems?

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Slice of MIT: Hundreds of Teams Converge Online for MIT Covid-19 Challenge Hackathons

Slice of MIT – Ken Shulman – September 23, 2020

It was early March 2020. The US and the world were bracing for the outbreak of a dangerous viral pandemic. Most members of the MIT community had left the campus and returned to their homes—many of them to homes abroad. For Alfonso Martinez MBA ’20 and Freddy T. Nguyen, the Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and a pathology resident at Mount Sinai Hospital, there was only one logical response: a hackathon.

“We had an impending pandemic that was going to create myriad problems across the globe,” says Nguyen, a co-organizer, along with Martinez, of the MIT Covid-19 Challenge. Since March, the MIT community-led initiative has staged seven hackathons addressing the pandemic. “We needed to define the problems facing us and create a structure that could produce solutions quickly. At the same time, we had hundreds of our people with mad skills confined to their homes with nowhere to apply those skills. From our perspective, a hackathon was a no-brainer.”

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Rice Magazine: Pivoting in a Pandemic

Rice Magazine – Freddy Nguyen, David Levin – June 28, 2020

As a pathology resident and research scientist, I’m refocusing my work to help evaluate convalescent plasma as a treatment option for COVID-19 patients.

New York is supposed to be the city that never sleeps. Things are supposed to happen around the clock every day of the year — but right now, the entire city is on lockdown. You walk down the street and don’t see a soul. In this town, it feels apocalyptic.

I came to New York in July 2019 as an M.D. and a Ph.D. I had just finished a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT in Boston and was starting a pathology residency at Mount Sinai Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Manhattan. Before the pandemic set in, I was developing new nanotechnology and imaging techniques to help fight against cancer. But since the beginning of March, I’ve been working nonstop with the rest of my colleagues to fight against COVID-19.

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US, NL unite virtually to take on COVID-19

Mart Duitemeijer – June 17, 2020

Key stakeholders who work in the field of life sciences and health in Massachusetts and the Netherlands came together in a virtual session June 8 to discuss how their ecosystems are responding to COVID-19, which lessons could be learned from the reaction to the pandemic, and how to stimulate closer international collaboration.

Participants of the conversations agree that there will always be a need to collaborate internationally and make use of each other’s strengths. If all strengths from different countries or ecosystems could be brought together, this will create a stronger value chain where collaboration between partners is needed and truly adds value.

When looking ahead, participants recognize that in a post-COVID world, we should be better prepared for a possible outbreak of a pandemic. That we need to be ready to think and act together, internationally, so we can organize the supply chain and share data and expertise when needed.

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COVID-19 Hackathon: Common Goals, Uncommon Solutions

Bayer – May 15, 2020

A medical face shield that monitors doctors digitally for signs of getting sick. A virtual waiting room app to help avoid spreading coronavirus germs among patients. A quick at-home kit with computerized support that could help consumers test and track their immune systems for antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. Bayer colleagues work across divisions, continents in COVID-19 hackathon.

These are just a few of the ideas developed by Bayer employees at a recent coronavirus hackathon put on by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and sponsored in part by Bayer’s crop science division, which had so many interested employees it held a spillover extension hackathon complete with its own judging and awards.

While scientists around the world are working to find ways to fight the coronavirus, dozens of experts from Bayer participated in the hackathon to help develop fast, implementable solutions to help slow the spread of the virus and the disease it causes.

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MIT News: MIT builds community for the Africa Takes On Covid-19 challenge

MIT News – Stuart P. Krusell | MISTI | MIT Sloan Global Programs | Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship – May 14, 2020

It all started, like so many things recently, with a Zoom call.

David Capodilupo, assistant dean for MIT Sloan Global Programs (GP); Bill Carter, award-winning filmmaker, author, teacher, and MIT consultant; and Stu Krusell, senior director at GP, were discussing what they could do to support the fight against Covid-19 in Africa. The need was immense. They talked about leveraging the vast network and resources of MIT to help those on the ground in Africa fighting the virus. The question was: How do you bring lots of people together to address this problem? The answer they decided on: a virtual hackathon.

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How a Few MIT Students Produced One of the Best Hackathons on Covid-19

True Africa – Claude Grunitzky – May 04, 2020

42% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day. As the pandemic slowly progresses throughout the continent, with most of the 35,000+ Covid-19 cases concentrated in North Africa and South Africa, a group of MIT students decided to host an “Africa Takes on Covid-19” challenge last weekend. It was the third in a series of MIT-led hackathons designed to create solutions to address critical needs during the Covid-19 crisis.

More than 200 participating teams were selected though the application website, with collectives from around the world—drawing from universities, industry, government, and NGOs, among others—volunteering to help create tech driven solutions to address the most critical unmet needs caused by the Covid-19 outbreak across the continent.

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MIT and VA Partner for COVID-19 Hackathon: Finding solutions through collaboration and innovation

Veterans Health Adminstration – Matthew Razak – April 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic requires innovative thinking and problem solving right now. Hackathons are a powerful tool to address these challenges. Earlier this month, VA partnered with MIT and a host of other organizations to put on the MIT COVID-19 Challenge “Beat the Pandemic” Hackathon.

Over 1,400 innovators – leaders in academia, industry and healthcare – came together virtually to develop, design, and solve the most pressing problems facing both vulnerable populations and the health care systems taking care of them.

Powerful display of collaboration and innovation

Winning solutions included:
– a telehealth platform that can help monitor COVID-19 patients in their home self-assessment triaging for patients at home
– a way for multiple patients to use a single ventilator
– a platform that connects those in quarantine with livestreams across the country
– a platform that delivers the latest innovations and medical advice to help hospitals navigate the crisis
– a method for disseminating COVID-19 information to rural clinicians more rapidly

“It was a powerful display of incredible collaboration and innovation in the collective fight against a common enemy. I left the weekend with a newfound hope in our ability to not just help the Veterans we serve but beat the pandemic entirely,” said Suzanne Shirley, VHA Director of Partnerships & Community Engagement.

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Pursuing User Research When Everyone’s in Quarantine

Timothy Berendt, Contributing Columnist and former Director of Innovation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mass. April 21, 2020

Many innovators are struggling with a big question right now: How do you maintain the quality and breadth of your user research when it seems the whole world is under house arrest due to coronavirus? We all know that the innovation and design world rely on interactions with customers and users, through activities like empathy, anthropology, focus groups, and testing. So how do you preserve that input into your process when everybody is locked down?

It’s an ideal moment for getting your team to embrace new tools and approaches. A few examples…

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Wall Street Journal: Hackathons Target Coronavirus: Participants tackle global problems from the shortage of ventilators to how to enforce social distancing

Wall Street Journal – Agam Shah – April 9, 2020

Thousands of technology enthusiasts and others are flocking to a new wave of hackathons created to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The low-sleep, high-octane sessions have attracted participants world-wide to team up online and suggest solutions to problems such as the equipment shortage for health providers or a better way to track the spread of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

“Everyone is looking at the urgency of the situation,” said Youseph Yazdi, executive director at Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, which organized a five-day hackathon in the last week of March that attracted 513 teams with 2.331 applicants from 34 countries.

That hackathon was around thematic areas including how to communicate effectively about Covid-19, prevention of transmission within communities and health-care equipment shortages.

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