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Pair of participants reflect on inaugural event
At Tech Serum—this year’s inaugural healthcare hackathon—seven teams of medical experts, pharmaceutical marketing professionals, developers, and patients came together to imagine and build solutions impacting our industry, all in just a weekend. To recount the experience, we sat down with medical expert and team lead, Dr. Juliet Wolford, a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Cincinnati, and Darrell Wakefield, vice president, US commercial franchise head, solid tumors at Sanofi Genzyme.
Rachel: What details about Tech Serum were you looking forward to most?
Darrell: I was most excited about how the event was organized to bring folks with different disciplines and backgrounds within the healthcare space together for a common cause. That was really impressive to me; to have the ability to appreciate the perspective of someone like Dr. Wolford and the ability to appreciate other folks in different industries also within the pharmaceutical space. I thought it made for a very rich experience. That was the most attractive part to me; to work with people who have different perspectives but came together to spend a few hours over a couple of days was very attractive.
Dr. Wolford: I completely agree with Darrell, it was very exciting. As a GynOnc, we live in our own small, specialized bubble. Our cancers are considered rare, and we often don’t get the opportunity to mix with the other oncology specialties, so it was nice to know that we were going to see teams from all the different specialties come together.
Rachel: Which solution from Tech Serum was your favorite, and why?
Dr. Wolford: I enjoyed Team Two, the Whyse Shepherds. They created an interactive chatbot that filters questions to direct you to an AI output of an answer or directs you to the person to whom you need to talk. I get this complaint frequently in my office: patients often say, “It’s so hard to get in touch with anyone in your clinic.” They may have a simple question, but it takes them a frustrating 30 minutes to get past the automated messages and waiting before they can get to an answer. I thought it was a simple solution that could be beneficial to patients and to those of us who want to help them.
Darrell: The group I worked in, WhyseFhir, really focused on an app with a mission of improving clinical trial participation. I think that is near and dear to a lot of our hearts in the healthcare space. The app really found a way to onboard and educate patients, alleviate some concerns, as well as be a vehicle to facilitate patients and physicians to make a match for clinical trials. I thought that was very enriching and very relevant to today, and applicable to a wide range of patients.
Dr. Wolford: I was impressed with all the ideas. It’s amazing that in such a short amount of time people were able to not only develop ideas, but also develop them into something tangible and feasible. Each project that was presented could have a significant impact on our patients.
Rachel: What surprised you most throughout the experience?
Dr. Wolford: I would say the absolute willingness of everyone to jump in and be a part of it. The day ended at 7 pm, but the team would be messaging through the app until 2 am. Everyone was really excited to get together and come up with ideas. As I was brainstorming ideas, the developer was putting together code. I was so surprised with how quickly he was able to put something together. As a clinician, I don’t often get to see the technical side and it was interesting to see it come together so quickly by people who are invested in an idea.
Darrell: I liked that it was genuinely about the patient, which is at the center of our efforts. The folks doing the work were really thinking about the patient, and that was fulfilling and inspiring.
Rachel: It really is amazing to see the range of innovations that came out of one weekend, and I can’t wait to see which move forward! Thank you for your participation.