Can computer geeks solve our medical ills? The Wall Street Journal reports on Medical Hackathons.

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hackingmed (1) Can computer geeks solve our medical ills? The Wall Street Journal reports on Medical Hackathons When you think of tech, the current image we often think of is geeks pulling all night coding and hacking marathons to solve problems, create software and become the next Facebook, Twitter or other computer based billionaire. Hackathons, using gamers and computer programmers may be able to solve some of our healthcare ills. Areas such as Cambridge Mass. are breeding grounds for this type of activity. Read about it here

Problem-Solving Sessions Popularized by Software Community Take Off in Medicine

By AMY DOCKSER MARCUS CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Hackathons, the high-octane, all-night problem-solving sessions popularized by the software-coding community, are making their way into the more traditional world of health care. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a recent event called Hacking Medicine's Grand Hackfest attracted more than 450 people to work for one weekend on possible solutions to problems involving diabetes, rare diseases, global health and information technology used at hospitals. Health institutions such as New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have held hackathons. MIT, meantime, has co-sponsored health hackathons in India, Spain and Uganda. Hackathons of all kinds are increasingly popular. Intel Corp. INTC -0.95% recently bought a group that organizes them. Companies hoping to spark creative thinking sponsor them. And student-run hackathons have turned into intercollegiate competitions. But in health care, where change typically comes much more slowly than in Silicon Valley, they represent a cultural shift. To solve a problem, scientists and doctors can spend years painstakingly running experiments, gathering data, applying for grants and publishing results. So the idea of an event where people give two-minute pitches describing a problem, then join a team of strangers to come up with a solution in the course of one weekend is radical. "We are not trying to replace the medical culture with Facebook culture,'' said Elliot Cohen, who wore a hoodie over a button-down dress shirt at the MIT event in March and helped start MIT Hacking Medicine while at business school. "But we want to try to blend them more.'' Mr. Cohen co-founded and is chief technology officer at PillPack, a pharmacy that sends customers personalized packages of their medications, a company that started at a hackathon. read more