The MSF Hackathon kicks off 2019

The Synergy team at Trinity College Dublin teamed up with international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to host a 12-week hackathon where students will work on providing innovative solutions to some of the problems MSF faces in delivering healthcare to patients around the world.

During the first semester of 2019 50 students from Bioengineering, Computer Science and Development Practice will spend 12 weeks working in in multi-disciplinary teams to develop innovative solutions to real life challenges that MSF encounters in some of the countries in which it provides medical care such as:

  • Devising ways for non-medical staff to identify and triage patients with respiratory conditions to allow doctors to spend more time with patients.
  • Methods for MSF staff working in locations outside of mobile or internet coverage to log problems they encounter during their daily work.
  • Designing technological solutions to quickly analyse water quality to improve the quality and efficiency of water and sanitation services.
  • Creating a system to optimise healthcare delivery and improve staff retention levels by capturing workforce data on nursing workload, care context and other metrics.
  • Increase the amount of time that MSF doctors can spend on clinical work by devising ways that technology can be used to ensure that patients adhere to their medical treatment regimes.
  • The final challenge concerns treatment for tuberculosis (TB), the world’s deadliest infectious disease. Participants in the hackathon will investigate how a combination of a new methodology called VOT (Video Observed Treatment) and automated machine analysis, could be used to massively scale adherence support, without patients needing to leave their homes and travel vast distances.

Dr Lacey Associate Professor in Graphics and Vision at the School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity said: “The challenges from MSF will inspire our students to develop creative solutions that can make a positive impact in difficult environments. This type of problem based learning helps our students develop independent thinking, effective communication and how to apply technology responsibly”.

Sam Taylor Director of MSF Ireland said by MSF engaging with students and the scientific and technology community in Ireland, it is hoped that the project will serve as a proof of concept for further collaboration in the future: “Innovation is integral to MSF’s desire to constantly improve our medical care and our ability to reach millions of patients each year in our projects across the globe. We hope this hackathon will demonstrate the potential for students, professors and the Irish tech community at large to help solve some of the challenges that MSF encounters in our day to day medical work” said Sam Taylor Director of MSF Ireland.

“At MSF we are constantly innovating and adapting our humanitarian and medical responses, to best meet the needs of our patients and the people who we assist. We hope this hackathon may deliver some viable ideas that MSF can investigate further that can be used to help us provide better, more efficient, medical care to our patients around the world.”

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