Inclusive healthcare hackathon uncovers solutions to health system challenges

01 Sep 2015
01 Sep 2015

Recently, over 50 healthcare workers, academics, software developers, entrepreneurs and designers gathered at the Innovation Hub at Groote Schuur Hospital to co-create mobile and web-based solutions to address real healthcare challenges. 

The Health Hackathon, hosted and created by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s [a specialized unit of the UCT Graduate School of Business], Inclusive Healthcare Innovation (iHI) initiative held a day-long event to create technology solutions to pre-identified health challenges submitted from various healthcare facilities and groups from across Cape Town. 

‘We believe that reframing health challenges as health innovation needs will enable leaders, health workers and citizens to see opportunities for co-creating new solutions through collaboration,’ says Lindi van Niekerk, iHI Lead.   

In pursuit of this vision, iHI hosted its second Health Hackathon at the recently launched Innovation Hub, which has been donated to the Western Province. The hub was the ideal space to host this event, as its purpose is to foster new ideas, solutions and collaboration across facilities and organizations, including the public and private sectors.  






Hackathons are fast becoming tools to catalyze the development of innovative solutions to address social challenges. The aim of the iHI hackathon was to develop human-centered technological solutions to address healthcare challenges, to foster innovative problem solving, and to build relationships across different sectors. 

Carolyn Clark, Senior Manager at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, mentored teams as they worked on their solutions during the day, as did Dr. Ernst Janse van Rensburg (Vula Mobile), Matty Cohen (Silicon Cape), Dr. Denise Botha (Bertha Centre) and Vasili Sofiadellis (Director, Visions2Ventures).

The iHI initiative partnered with Silicon Cape, to draw in and connect the Cape Town technology community to the health community. Vula Mobile offered teams the use of their existing technology, as well as support to promising ideas to develop their solutions after the event. Vasili Sofiadellis, director of Visions2Ventures, also offered the winning team the opportunity to join the first phase of his brand new enterprise accelerator. 

PriceWaterhouseCoopers sponsored the grand prize of R10 000 for the development of the winning solution. “PwC recognizes the need for innovation in addressing the many healthcare challenges we face locally, in other developing countries and globally. The opportunities for innovative problem solving in health are growing rapidly as a result of technological breakthroughs. However, healthcare will always be about people - those who deliver it at the front line and the patients who need to be active participants in their treatment - so innovation cannot happen remotely from the people its intended to help,” said Carolyn Clark, Senior Manager at PwC. 

At the end of the event, an expert-judging panel assessed the creativity, human-centred design, and feasibility of the solutions in a open pitching session. The panel included team mentors Carolyn Clark, Vasili Sofiadellis,, Dr Ernst Janse van Rensburg, and also Baratang Miya (Business Development Manager at Bandwidth Barn), Avril Harvey (Impact Acceleration Manager at Impact Amplifier) and Dr René Toua (Clinical Data and Information Manager at Mediclinic). 

The Winning team

The winning team created a push app called Pulse to incentivise patients to manage chronic conditions and stay healthy through a points system. ‘Pulse will help patients keep track of their health status and medication needs. It reminds users to take their medication or attend appointments, and users are able to add notes on their symptoms and response to medication. The app will also reward users for compliance through a points system. Each time they visit the clinic or hospital, take their medication, or improve their health status, they accumulate points, which could be redeemed at Pick ‘n Pay, Clicks or Dischem for example,’ said Andrea Thompson, Pulse team representative. Pulse was developed by: Samuel Molahloe (Replenish), Sello Lehong (Replenish), Lazola Sifuba (Replenish), Mbasakazi Magwegwe, Wadzie Muramba , Andrea Thompson (Marie Stopes), Snehta Goodur (Marie Stopes), Keoikantse Botlholo and Julia Wood. 


The runners-up created an app called CommunityConnect, an app that enables you to connect yourself and others to quality social and community resources in your area. It aims to promote health through connecting communities to existing social resources, including community safety, income support, counselling services, shelter and housing, safe houses, training and education services, and wellness programs. ‘The app will collate social services and community resources in the Western Cape in one simple interface, to make it easy to identify resources according to type and location. CommunityConnect could be used by health professionals, social service professionals, civil servants, and citizens, and will be updated by the community who know and use the services,’ said Eldi van Loggerenberg, CommunityConnect team representative. Users will also be able to comment and provide feedback about the services offered.

CommunityConnect was developed by Carla McKenzie (UCT), Eldi van Loggerenberg (iHI, UCT), Jess Klette, (UCT), Pete Fowles (Mobenzi), Ulrike Breytenbach (medical doctor), and Sean Matthew Walsh (Independent Web/Database Consultant) with tech facilitation provided by Matty Cohen (Silicon Cape). 

Other apps developed include:

MediPoint, an app for patient held medical information. Developed by medical students from UCT and Bandwidth Barn, Khayelitsha. [Midhun John (medical student, Shawco Health UCT); Luke Fletcher (medical student, Shawco Health UCT); Thandolwethu Buqwana (bandwidth barn, Khayelitsha), Siviwe Senteni (bandwidth barn, Khayelitsha), Ayanda Sikuni (andwidth barn, Khayelitsha) and Christopher Currin (UCT Faculty of Health Sciences - Human Biology.)

UPYA, an app to help patients recover after being discharged from physical rehabilitation services. Developed by Michael Awood (Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre), Athenkosi Sopitshi (Bertha Centre), James Barnes (Business Connexion), Hermann Clemens (UCT) and Jonathan Shock (UCT)

MyHospital, an app to compile information about medical facilities in South Africa, including information for interns was developed by Carrie Kitchin (UCT SAMSA), Jonathan Watts (UCT SAMSA), Timothy de Wet (UCT SAMSA), Farah Jawitz (UCT SAMSA) and Kevin Rui (Northwestern University).

Diagnostic, an app to assist in patient management and diagnostics in rural areas was developed by Fernando Martinez (Nexterday) and Andi Friedman (Mobenzi.) 

The winning team, Pulse, will receive support to develop the app to the value of R10 000, and teams will have access to mentoring provided by PwC, Vula Mobile, Visions2Ventures and the Bertha Centre.  A breakfast will be held at the Innovation Hub on Saturday 29 August 2015 for the teams and mentors to connect and discuss the next steps to take their ideas forward.

Image courtesy Eldi van Loggerenberg
Press Release by Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship