This weekend, Hacking Health Toronto at MaRS Discovery District will bring together over 100 health professionals and over 200 technical experts to combine their skills to bring a grassroots approach to innovation in healthcare and build a dynamic health technology ecosystem in Canada.

Hacking Health is built on the principles that those who have front-line clinical experience understand how technology can innovate healthcare and those who can build innovative web and mobile technologies want the opportunity to apply their skills to meaningful problems and build useful products. Hacking Health is a user-led initiative that brings these two groups together.

What to expect?

Hacking Health is built on the model of the hackathon. An intensive collaborative coding event, a hackathon begins as an open platform where anyone can pitch ideas to the group. Participants decide individually on which ideas they want to work on and the resulting teams “hack” together prototypes. At the end of the marathon session, the prototypes are then demoed or presented to the entire group.


Hacking Health Toronto will have a similar format with some unique twists. The event begins with a reception on Friday, October 19. Health professionals (physicians, nurses, pharmacists) and others who have front-line clinical experience (health foundations, patient groups) will, based on their experiences, pitch ideas about how technology can make a difference. Over 200 passionate developers, designers and other technology experts will then choose the pitches they want to help develop into working prototypes. The Friday night reception is an efficient marketplace of ideas where participants take time and effort to select the projects that go forward.

Over the course of the day on Saturday, October 20, the newly formed teams will work to build their prototypes. The ultimate goal is for health and tech experts to learn how to work together and to form true long-term collaborations to develop lasting approaches to healthcare innovation. To that end, there will be a number of health IT experts—ranging from hospital chief information officers to venture capitalists to government administrators—who will act as mentors to help the teams navigate the realities of the health tech marketplace.

On Sunday, October 21, the teams will demo their prototypes to an audience of their peers, as well as to invited health IT experts who can help the teams develop and deploy their prototypes. A panel of judges will select the most promising teams for a set of prizes. The goal is not only to spark collaboration, but also to help sustain it. Therefore, the prizes will be supports for the teams, including finance and business services, intellectual property consultations and even office space.

Hacking Health Toronto is made possible through the co-ordination and energies of high-value partners including Nightingale, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the University Health Network Centre for Global eHealth Innovation and MaRS.

For more information, visit the Hacking Health website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Jeeshan Chowdhury

Jeeshan is an MD/PhD student at the University of Alberta. He also studied global health at Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. He is a co-founder of Hacking Health. See more…