by Bonnie Gardiner

Hackathon to tackle challenges of Australia’s ageing population

Jul 06, 2015
Healthcare Industry

A hackathon will be held in Melbourne between July 10-13 to create innovative technology solutions in aged health care to address challenges presented by Australia’s ageing population..

The ‘Hack Aging’ event, hosted by IBM and HealthXL, will be held at the Carlton Connect Initiative and will bring together user experience designers, clinicians, software developers, hardware engineers and business minds. During the hackathon, teams will work together to find solutions to aged care challenges including dementia, social isolation and malnutrition.

The winning team will be invited to present their solution in front of global digital health thought leaders at the HealthXL Global Gathering in Munich in September. They will also work with clinicians and community care providers in the Northern Health hospital network to refine and complete a prototype of their solution for trialling with patient groups.

Participants will work directly with age health experts from HealthXL as well as Northern Health and Alzheimer’s Australia. Teams will also have mentoring from health researchers and technical experts from IBM, along with IBM cloud experts and access to IBM platform-as-a-service solution, Bluemix.

Australia’s population aged 75 or more is expected to rise by 4 million from 2012 to 2060, increasing from about 6.4 to 14.4 per cent, according to a 2013 report by the Productivity Commission.

Alzheimer’s Australia predicts the number of Australians living with dementia will exceed 400,000 in the next 10 years, while more than 1.4 million people aged 65 and over experience loneliness in their lives, according to recent study by Whiddon and Galaxy Research.

Martin Kelly, CEO co-founder of HealthXL, said that only new types of collaborations can solve the big problems related to ageing.

“The mission of this HealthXL hackathon is to catalyse such collaborations between our partners IBM, Northern Health, and the most promising digital health teams to improve the quality of life of elderly people.

“Technology is key to developing solutions that help care for an aged population. For real innovation to happen throughout the care path, we need all the major stakeholders to work together and actively engage in moving the needle from what’s possible today.”

Annette Hicks, IBM A/NZ health industry lead, said the hackathon event is the “perfect intersection of disruptive, innovative thinking combined with human-centred insights to help improve the quality of life for the elderly”.

“Our health team is looking at how technology can enable people to live active and engaged lives in their own homes for longer.”

A recent example of IBM’s work in this area is a joint initiative with Japan Post and Apple to deliver iPads and custom applications to connect elderly people in Japan to services, family and community.