Recap Hacking Health Amsterdam: "All scientists should do this in their early career”

From Thursday 11th until Saturday 13th April, postdocs Dominique Maciejewski, Eline Heppe, and Marieke Buil (APH-researchers Mental Health), participated in the first Amsterdam edition of Dutch Hacking Health. During this event several extraordinary, multidisciplinary teams consisting of people from a variety of backgrounds – from scientists to creative designers and from medical doctors to data managers – work together on clarifying and finding a solution for a current and urgent problem in health care. The ultimate goal of the hackathon was to create innovative ideas that benefit the physical and mental health of the residents of Amsterdam, in order to increase life expectancy with 2 years.  

Dominique’s team was focused on developing a screening instrument, named Uit je Hoofd, for detecting early signs of depression in children of parents with depression. Eline’s team developed a tool that stimulates healthy behavior of cardiac patients. This tool, called HartMaatje, helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle after they left the hospital to prevent them for having another cardiac incident. Marieke’s team created the gizmo TEAM-ME that stimulates young schoolchildren to signal that they do not feel happy at school. This, in turn helps teachers gain insight in the real-time social well-being of kindergarten and early elementary schoolchildren.

Dominque, Eline and Marieke agree that the hackathon was a huge success. Dominique explains that the event forces you to step out of your comfort zone by working together with people you normally do not cooperate with. “It truly broadens your horizon and you learn to think ‘out of the box’ ”, adds Eline, and it is very rewarding to translate research to practice. Marieke’s team won the “Healthy Amsterdammer” incentive award, and Eline’s team won the “Best Human-Centered” design award. Eline’s team will compete during the national Dutch Hacking Health finale upcoming May.

All three postdocs enthusiastically recommend all researchers to participate in the Dutch Hacking Health hackathon next year. “It’s very inspiring. All scientists should do this in their early career”.

The HHA was supported by the municipality of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Economic Board, GGD, Cordaan, SIGRA, Amsterdam UMC and many other partners. Also APH was a proud partner of the HHA initiative. One of the pre-meetings where participants could pitch their idea was hosted by APH and at the event, APH researchers Christine Dessing and Saskia Duijs (department of Medical Humanities, location VUmc) have organized a workshop on Participatory Action Research for the participants of the hackathon.

Watch the Hacking Health Amsterdam video (mp4)