The Digital Health Applied Research Center (DHARC), domiciled at JKUAT, staged its second month-long boot camp, bringing together 12 teams to participate in a hackathon focused on leveraging digital tools for healthcare provision.
The hackathon, themed ‘Emerging challenges and probable solutions in the use of eHealth to enhance decision-making to improve public health good in Kenya,’ aimed to extract value from existing data and develop functional virtual applications to address six thematic challenges.
The month-long boot camp was staged under the Kenya Health Management Information System project (KeHMIS) funded by the US Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the support of DHARC, Palladium Kenya, Ministry of Health and Health Workforce Training and Research Kenya (HETARK).
The multidisciplinary teams comprised of students from various fields such as Mechatronics Engineering, Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology, Computer Science, Molecular Biology, and Statistics.
Together, they explored digital solutions to pressing issues in the health sector, including improving the distribution of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and other medicines to HIV patients at home, extending electronic medical records for self-service analytics, and developing virtual health assistants, among others.
After an intense competition, Team Bits & Bytes emerged as the victors of the hackathon, May 31, 2023. Their winning solution, Dawa Drop, focused on addressing the challenge of distributing ARVs and other crucial medications to HIV patients at home through a courier service. The innovative approach by Team Bits & Bytes demonstrated their dedication to finding practical solutions to enhance healthcare delivery.
Securing the second position was Team Queue RX, whose creation, the Smart Queue Management system, aimed to streamline the waiting experience for patients seeking medical attention.
By utilizing digital tools, Team Queue RX sought to optimize the allocation of resources and reduce wait times, ultimately improving patient satisfaction and overall efficiency within healthcare facilities.
Team Nisaidie claimed the third spot with their innovative Virtual Health Assistant solution. This virtual assistant aimed to provide users with convenient access to health information and support through an interactive chatbot interface. Team Nisaidie’s solution showcased their commitment to harnessing technology for the betterment of public health.
Principal, College of Health Sciences (COHES), Dr. Reuben Thuo, commended all the participating students for their unwavering dedication during the boot camp. He acknowledged the pivotal role of eHealth in providing a comprehensive approach to healthcare and emphasized the significance of the hackathon in fostering viable solutions that would enhance access to quality health services, policy development, and decision-making.
Reflecting on the hackathon’s outcomes, Dr. Thuo highlighted the importance of information and communication technology in bridging the gaps in healthcare delivery. He noted that there was a growing awareness of the potential of eHealth solutions and their ability to facilitate efficient healthcare services.
“This hackathon serves as a catalyst for innovation, highlighting the transformative power of digital tools in shaping the future of healthcare in Kenya. The collaborative efforts and the diverse teams of students demonstrates the potential for digital innovation to revolutionize healthcare and inspire further advancements in the field,” said Dr. Thuo.
The hackathon was ably judged by Dr. Thomas Ngigi, Carolyn Mugo, and Isaac Oteyo of JKUAT, Anthony Ojwang and Bernard Ajwang of Palladium Kenya and Jean Wanjiku Munyaka of Microsoft.
The hackathon was also addressed by Prof. Simon Karanja, Prof. Fred Wamunyokoli, Henry Kissinger and Philip Oyier.