The first annual University of Chicago Health Tech Hackathon

by Jim Li and Tatiana Josephy, MS1s

The University of Chicago is home to future leaders in fields ranging from business to computer science to medicine. With the goal of promoting collaboration between students in these different fields, Pritzker TECH hosted the first annual UChicago Health Tech Hackathon on May 18 and 19, 2018. The hackathon coincided with the opening of the UChicago Medicine Trauma Center, and its theme was to have multidisciplinary teams of medical students, business students, policy students, software developers and data scientists create technology that supports the Trauma Center’s mission of addressing all aspects of trauma, from prevention to recovery.


Pritzker students at the Hackathon (not pictured: Antonia Lin, Anthony Hung, Sam Kaskovich)

The hackathon was kicked off on Friday night with an inspiring keynote speech from Phil Verhoef, MD, PhD, who told his story of activism in support of the opening of the Trauma Center. Dr. Verhoef set the tone for a weekend dedicated towards building technology that will help solve key issues in trauma care on the South Side. After the keynote address, participants pitched ideas to the rest of the room, recruiting people with similar interests but different skill sets to form teams. By the end of the night, five different teams were created, each ready to dedicate the weekend to bring their innovative ideas into reality. Throughout the event, different mentors across medicine, business and tech—including Professor Dan Adelman, a leading healthcare analytics expert from the Booth School of Business and Kenneth Wilson, MD, a renowned trauma surgeon—volunteered their time to provide guidance and support to the teams.


Dr. Verhoef kicked off the event with a keynote address on advocacy for the new Trauma Center

After coding and designing on Saturday, the teams pitched their products to a panel of judges. The judges were Greg Gaither, a community leader in youth rehabilitation and education; Carrie Mendoza, MD, a practicing emergency medicine physician; and Karuna Relwani, a bioengineer and entrepreneur from Matter Health, a Chicago-based health tech incubator. First place was awarded to Peaceful Minds, a “Khan Academy for emotional well-being” app that tailors mental health videos to patients using psychiatric screening tools and natural language processing of the patient’s writing, while second place went to Next Steps, a website dedicated to connecting trauma patients to a support network of trauma survivors in order to facilitate physical and emotional recovery. View all of the participants pitch decks.


Controlled chaos: participants pitched their ideas and recruited team members

The hackathon was the latest event held this year by Pritzker TECH, an interest group founded in 2016 to address the growing influence of technology in health care and to connect medical students to health tech opportunities. This year’s Pritzker TECH team—MS1s Max Hemmrich, Anthony Hung, Tatiana Josephy, Sam Kaskovich, and Jim Li—also led EKG-building and coding workshops earlier in the year.


Teams presented their work with 5 minute demos