Call for coders to ‘hack’ for healthcare solutions


Education and training lab Forge Academy will host a robotics hackathon to mark this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (World Telecoms Day) on 17 May.

The Health-Tek hackathon is a collaborative initiative between Forge, Nokia, Ozone Connect and the Gauteng City Region Academy.

According to a statement, the hackathon will be held at the Forge building at the Gantry in Fourways, Johannesburg, and online for those unable to attend in person.

The hackathon is open to anyone in the healthcare industry and IT specialists interested in coding and development. Attendees will conceptualise how health professionals can better use robotics in the healthcare sector, notes the statement.

“During COVID-19, hospitals and clinics used robots to perform basic human tasks, which reduced exposure to pathogens,” says Arthur Wade Anderson, CEO of Forge Academy.

“The reduced exposure directly impacted the spread of the virus through less human interaction. We will explore how else this technology can benefit citizens in combatting disease and improving healthcare efficiencies.”

The brainchild of Anderson and COO Craig Clutty, the academy opened in 2020 to be an education and training hub to equip students with the skills they need to participate in the digital era. It prepares students with theoretical, laboratory and on-the-job training for careers in the fourth industrial revolution.

The Health-Tek hackathon will focus on identifying how healthcare can use robots to improve patient experiences; how robots can improve the administration of and assistance with patients; integrating internet of things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to improve service delivery and healthcare training; as well as how technology can advance the support needed by the elderly in healthcare.

Participants will be in teams, and will be exposed to the current robotics, AR, VR and IOT technology at the academy. The teams will brainstorm how technology can be better used in healthcare, and present their ideas and solutions to a panel of judges.

The ideas need to be affordable and sustainable, so as not to drive up the cost of healthcare. They also need to eliminate current bottlenecks within the healthcare system, making services more widely accessible, especially to low-income areas.

Clutty states: “Hackathons have a way of igniting and merging creativity, innovation and problem-solving. We are always amazed to see the concepts and ideas presented at the end of our hackathons, and I look forward to seeing what the participants will ‘hack’ up for this event.”

For the physical part of the hackathon, the academy notes strict COVID-19 protocols will be implemented and adhered to during the event, adding that sanitisation stations will be around the venue and the wearing of masks will be mandatory.

Forge says anyone who is in the healthcare industry or has software development skills can join the hackathon, noting that applications must be submitted before the end of the day on 15 May.

Click here to apply. 

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