What if you could check into a hospital like you check into an airline? What if you could easily open an app and read everything there is to know about a life changing diagnosis? What if there was a revolutionary knee brace for ACL patients, an injury that has reached epidemic proportions? And what if you could wear a smartwatch that continually measures and records all of your vital signs? We’re in luck! These game-changing solutions to health care issues are already here, they just need to be “hacked” a bit.

It was impossible not to feel hopeful for health care at Hacking Health Ottawa on April 28th, 29th, and 30th, 2017. From enthusiastic participants, to supportive mentors, and passionate health care professionals: not a single attendee would deny the infectious positive energy at Hacking Health.

Hacking Health Ottawa is a collaboration between Hacking Health, an international hackathon initiative, and the Children’s Treatment Centre at CHEO.  The 48-hour hackathon was hosted by Shopify at it’s headquarters on Elgin St, one of Ottawa’s foremost epicenters of innovation in business and technology.

“Hacking Health Ottawa emerged out of seeing a lot of hackathons with the desire to solve problems in a short period of time.” Says Ottawa Chapter Lead, Haidee Thanda. “We decided to launch a program, more of a marathon than a sprint [referring to the 6-month program leading up to the hackathon], so that we could identify problems, get the right team together, introduce the tools, and provide resources such as funding and mentorship, to see ideas come to fruition.”

Haidee Thanda was ecstatic to kick things off at Hacking Health Ottawa 2017

Hacking Health Ottawa was open to anyone interested in sharing their talents to help improve the health care system. “We targeted 4 groups in particular: designers, developers, entrepreneurs’ business professionals, and health care professionals.” Haidee continued.

In fact, I was surprised to see that most of Friday night’s pitches were by various members of the health care profession. Haidee cleared things up, explaining that health care professionals can only do so much to assist patients with the resources they have. “Health care professionals are at the front line of problems [in the health care system]. They know what [the problems in health care] are, they live them everyday. So we wanted to pair health care professionals with technologists, designers and business professionals, to transform some of these problems into solutions.”

Michael Salvatore from Sparkboard #58 holds his sign to recruit developers, designers, tech gurus and physicians to his team.

After hearing all the pitches, participants had 48 hours to brainstorm, develop, and present in front of a panel of judges on Sunday afternoon. Some teams built a prototype to illustrate their idea, for others, they coded a beta version of an app or website. With a combined value of $120,000 in prizes, the stakes were high. Prizes ranged from office space, to seed funding, mentorship, to being introduced to physician sciences and entrepreneurs, and the grand prize: an opportunity to pilot their project at CHEO.

It was truly an inspiring experience to be immersed in such a creative, ambitious and problem-solving environment. It is our sincere pleasure at Wingd to congratulate the following solutions for their success over the weekend and the chance to pilot their idea at CHEO: Patient Wait Time & Sparkboard (Sparkboard #59) and Sleep Apnea Diagnostic Tool (Sparkboard #2). For an exhaustive list of Hacking Health Ottawa’s winners, see below.

Although you may not be able to check hospital wait times from the convenience of your phone, innovation is coming to health care… one hackathon at a time.


Sparkboard #78 presenting her team’s idea to the judges


Winners of Hacking Health Ottawa 2017

(to learn more, go to Sparkboard)


CHEO Pilot Opportunity Prize:

  • Sparkboard #59 Patient Wait Time & Sparkboard
  • Sparkboard #2 Sleep Apnea Diagnostic Tool

IBM Watson Grand Prize:

  • Sparkboard #46 Crowdsourcing Knowledge Syntesis in Medicine
  • Sparkboard #95 Canadian Pediatric Hemotology/Oncology Patient Database

IBM IoT Gold Prize: Sparkboard #47 A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace

IBM IoT Silver Prize: Sparkboard #2 Sleep Apnea Diagnostic Tool

Joule Innovation Mentorship Prize: Sparkboard #75 Free Flap Monitoring

Shopify Mentorship Package:

  • Sparkboard #91 Alrt ME
  • Sparkboard #47 A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace
  • Sparkboard #73 Vital Tracer

Designer Dream Team Prize, $5000:

  • Sparkboard #47 A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace
  • Sparkboard #80 Triage (MADD booking for Med)
  • Sparkboard #76 Better and Safer Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) Screening

Showcase Showdown Prize, $1000:

  • Sparkboard #72 Take Care – reduce risks in youth sexuality
  • Sparkboard #49 Latched

Impact Hub Ottawa Prize:

  • Sparkboard #93 Timsle
  • Sparkboard #46 Crowdsourcing knowledge synthesis in medicine
  • Sparkboard #95 Canadian pediatric hematology/oncology patient database.



Desjardins Health Innovation Award: Sparkboard #84 WHIT: Women’s Health Information Tracker

Can Hack It! Sponsored by Macadamian, $250:

  • Sparkboard #49 Latched
  • Sparkboard #84 WHIT: Women’s Health Information Tracker

Hacking Health Choice Aware: Sparkboard #85 WHIT: Women’s Health Information Tracker

Best Solution for Health care Collaboration Aware: Sparkboard #49 Latched

Best Solution for Patients Award: Sparkboard #91 Alrt Me

Best Health Education Solution Aware: Sparkboard #85 Online Medical Publishing Platform

People’s Choice Aware: Sparkboard #47 A Smarter Post-operative Knee Brace.