This past February, SRS Health sponsored its third annual hackathon. Hackathons are the proving grounds for new ideas. These events stimulate creativity and encourage risk-taking to develop innovative solutions to new or persistent problems.This year’s hackathon was organized around the theme of Data Revolution, and when you think about it, there’s a revolutionary quality to the very idea of hackathons. The word “hackathon” is a portmanteau of the words “hack” and “marathon,” where “hack” is used in the sense of exploratory programming. It’s this exploratory aspect of hackathons that enables participants to be super creative, push boundaries, think outside-of-the-box and develop revolutionary ideas. We solicit ideas from customers and SRSers that can range from practical enhancements to futuristic solutions for tomorrow’s problems.
At SRS Health, we’ve noticed some strong benefits to running hackathons:
- Feedback – If our product is going to help solve your problems, we need to know what those problems are. Hackathons allow us to discover problems and explore solutions.
- Engagement – Hackathons build team and community spirit. Participants have fun, and they get a chance to collaborate with others with whom they don’t typically work with on a daily basis.
- Diversity – Having a wide range of participants generates a variety of fresh perspectives, both on existing problems and for future possibilities.
The result? An event filled with fun, high-energy, free food, great ideas, engaging presentations and amazingly talented people. There are a number of concepts that we are very excited about and could make its way into future editions of our products.
So, if you have a revolutionary idea that you’d like to see become part of our product—or even just an evolutionary step that fixes a chronic problem—let us know about it. It may be the perfect candidate for our next hackathon. The truth is, we all want to change the world of healthcare, and we’d love to explore and define that future together with you!
Recent Nobel-recipient Bob Dylan wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’” in 1963—a time of growing social upheaval reflected in the song’s lyrics, which called for listeners to acknowledge and embrace the transformations taking place around them. As I listened to this song over the past weekend, I couldn’t help but draw a correlation to the radical transformations we are currently experiencing in our industry. The past several years have epitomized the term “change” as the nation has taken big steps to transform the delivery of healthcare.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed in 2009 by President Barack Obama, was one of the catalysts for this transformation by requiring the “meaningful use” of digital systems in healthcare. Since then, change has been the only constant that we have been able to count on. Government regulations, payment models, and product innovations have continued to evolve in disruptive ways—both good and bad. As soon as we become comfortable with one wave of change, another wave is already threatening to drench us to the bone (for us, the next big one is MACRA & MIPS).
So, coming off nearly a decade of constant uncertainty, what’s next? Well, you guessed it—more change! Starting in 2017 we will have new policy leaders in place who have promised to significantly restructure the incumbent’s healthcare programs. President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Tom Price as the head of HHS may be indicative of the changes on the horizon. Price, a 6-term congressman from the Atlanta, Georgia, area, was formerly an orthopedic surgeon. Will a specialist at the helm help make government programs, that have typically been focused on primary and in-patient care, more meaningful for specialists?
Time will tell, but the one thing that is certain is that, as the song says, the wheel is still in spin. In other words, the times they are still a-changin’.
It seem that everywhere you look in today’s tech industry, you hear the term APIs, and healthcare IT is no exception. Healthcare has recently joined the frenzy by promoting emerging interoperability standards like FHIR. Regulators believe that APIs will support this interoperability so much that APIs are included in meaningful use Stage 3. So, you might now be asking, what are APIs, and why are they so important?
In the simplest terms, APIs are a doorways that allow developers to create bridges between different applications. API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs are sets of rules that govern how one application can communicate with another. APIs do all this by “exposing” some of a program’s internal functions to the other developers in a limited capacity. This makes it possible for products to share data and take actions on one another’s behalf without requiring developers to share all of their software product’s code.
APIs have been around for decades, so why all of the publicity now? Over the last 10 years companies have started to make their APIs publically available, which has been a catalyst for the spin-off of new business models, innovative solutions, distribution channels, and synergies between business partnerships.
A recent example of this can be found with your smart phones. What do you think fueled the recent app revolution? If companies like Apple and Google did not provide APIs, app developers would not be able to use the functionality found on your phone. Ever wonder how SnapChat has access to your phone’s camera? You guessed it, APIs!
In the end, APIs are a wonderful tool that provides you with flexibility and complete control over your healthcare IT ecosystem.
Now that you know a bit about APIs, how do you see your organization leveraging them in the future?
No lazy hazy days of summer for SRS. This week SRS is hosting its inaugural annual Summer Hackathon. What is a hackathon? A hackathon is an event for computer engineers, programmers, designers, and other creatives from across the company to collaborate in the design and build of new products and/or features within a finite amount of time. The word hackathon is a portmanteau of the words “hack” and “marathon.” “Hack” is used in the sense of exploratory programming activities, and “marathon” is used to convey the intensity, competiveness, and focus required to deliver a working solution in a short period of time.
So why hack? These intense tech benders create a venue for self-expression, creativity, and innovation leveraging technology and collaboration. It allows us to approach challenges differently, which can result in innovative ideas and solutions to existing and future problems in healthcare. In fact, hackathon ideas often turn into real-world products and features.
The theme for this year’s Summer Hackathon is based on healthcare productivity. We received over 40 ideas from across the organization—ranging from existing product line enhancements to new product lines based on emerging industry trends. Out of all the ideas submitted, the product development team has selected 15 ideas to pursue. Each team will demo their concepts in a “science fair” style format at the conclusion of the event. Prizes and recognition will be awarded based on presentation, creativity, and impact on healthcare productivity.
The team is very excited about our first hackathon. We believe investing in innovation is paramount to our clients’ success, and leveraging tools like hackathons to foster and cultivate innovation will ultimately provide premier creative solutions that will drive value for our clients and their patients.
It all starts with an idea… any ideas to share?