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Independence Blue Cross and Jefferson Health hack to fuel Innovative Health Care Solutions

health care

Drone-based solutions, wearables, and reducing readmissions focus of Health Hack (#healthhackPHL)

Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia’s leading health insurance organization, Independence Blue Cross (Independence), and one of the largest health care systems, Jefferson (through its Innovation Pillar), will host a free Health Hack (#healthhackPHL) Nov. 13-15,designed to help reinvent health care access and delivery by creating innovative solutions to the biggest challenges in the industry today. The event, to be held at Jefferson Alumni Hall on the campus of Jefferson University Hospital, will attract health care professionals, designers, programmers, nurses, engineers, and students excited to share and develop new ideas and have access to mentors, skill-based workshops, and hands-on tools to help make them a reality. Additional sponsors include Comcast, IBM Microsoft, and DroneCast.

A hackathon brings together individuals who may not interact otherwise in order to inspire creative thinking and scalable solutions. This Health Hack is different because of the complex issues it tackles through the following three tracks. In addition, this will be thefirst known hackathon to present a track focused solely on drones.

  • Drone-Based Health Care Delivery (sponsored by DroneCast and IBM). The goal of this track is to allow imaginative and ambitious people to prototype drone-based solutions for the health care sector. DroneCast of Philadelphia will provide several of their 44 types of drones with which to create, as well as on-site technical support.
  • Wearables: Helping Patients and Providers Gain a Better Understanding of Individual Health (sponsored by Comcast and Microsoft) From fitness trackers to Google Glass, wearables have become major parts of daily life, and the health care sector is no exception. The Wearables track focuses on applying these diverse technologies to help patients and their providers gain a better understanding of their health.
  • Improving Patient Experience: Reducing Hospital Readmissions (sponsored by Independence) According to a 2013 report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 1 in 8 Medicare patients were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of a surgical procedure while 1 in 6 returned to the hospital after receiving medical care that required a hospital stay. With the Medicaid and Medicare funding now tied to readmissions metrics in the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are looking to innovate their processes and procedures to keep their patients healthier after hospitalization.

In addition, teams have already formed to work on other ideas. In the Drone track, the White Helmets, an Istanbul-based non-profit, is forming a team to develop new approaches to rescuing victims trapped in rubble from disasters.  Two local fabricators are interested in building a collapsible bike helmet as part of the Wearables track.

“The Independence/Jefferson Health Hack is a very cool first time hack. Most first hackathons use common topics, like medical devices or process redesign in hospitals, but the drone track is really a demonstration of the kind of fusion of emerging technology and hospital innovation we wish to inspire in our ecosystem,” said

Ayesha Khalid, M.D., M.B.A., part of the MIT Hacking Medicine leadership team and advisor to the Health Hack.

“We are very excited to watch new ideas take shape at the Health Hack as participants from a variety of backgrounds join together to reimagine health care and ignite creative solutions to today’s challenges,” said Independence President and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty. “This is just the type of imaginative thinking that we hope to continue to drive through our partnership with Jefferson, recognizing the significant impact that can be made through new products and improved quality of care.”

“When the largest health care system in the region teams up with one of the largest regional insurance providers, the resources and expertise are simply unparalleled to help fuel unique and viable solutions to some of the most pressing issues faced in health care access and delivery today,” said Stephen K. Klasko, M.D., M.B.A, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. “It is thrilling to lead the country with the first health hackathon targeting how drones can help transform care, and we look forward to hearing new ideas to help reduce readmissions and maximize the power of wearable to improve patient health.”

Sponsors will provide products and other resources for participant use throughout the weekend. NextFab, a maker-space and prototyping studio in South Philadelphia that specializes in design, engineering, consulting, and fabrication, will also offer use of its facility’s 3D printers, laser cutters, expert woodworking, and other services. Winners of each track will receive prize packages from the event sponsors, including cash as well as access to strategies, insights, and individuals to further explore the potential of turning ideas into reality.

The Health Hack is part of the new collaboration between Independence and Jefferson designed to boost innovation in health care through a variety of programs and help both organizations improve the quality and value of heath care. Established in Feb. 2014, Independence’s Center for Health Care Innovation houses a wide range of innovation initiatives and champions health care entrepreneurism in the region. Jefferson’s Innovation Pillar is an initiative to elevate and lead innovation as a mission for the university and health system.

Additional information about the Health Hack as well as a full schedule available at:

About Jefferson — Health is all we do.
Our newly formed organization, Jefferson, encompasses Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, representing our academic and clinical entities.  Together, the people of Jefferson, 19,000 strong, provide the highest-quality, compassionate clinical care for patients, educate the health professionals of tomorrow, and discover new treatments and therapies that will define the future of health care.

Jefferson Health comprises five hospitals, 13 outpatient and urgent care centers, as well as physician practices and everywhere we deliver care throughout the city and suburbs across Philadelphia, Montgomery and Bucks Counties in Pa., and Camden County in New Jersey.  Together, these facilities serve more than 78,000 inpatients, 238,000 emergency patients and 1.7 million outpatient visits annually.  Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia.  Abington Hospital is the largest community teaching hospital in Montgomery or Bucks counties.  Other hospitals include Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience in Center City Philadelphia; Methodist Hospital in South Philadelphia; and Abington-Lansdale Hospital in Hatfield Township.

Thomas Jefferson University enrolls more than 3,900 future physicians, scientists, nurses and health care professionals in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC), Jefferson Colleges of Biomedical Sciences, Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy, Population Health and is home of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

For more information and a complete listing of Jefferson services and locations, visit

About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we serve nearly 10 million people in 24 states and the District of Columbia, including 2.5 million in the region. For nearly 80 years, we have been enhancing the health and wellness of the people and communities we serve by delivering innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneering new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and supporting programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more, visit and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Media contact
Ruth Stoolman
Independence Blue Cross
215-241-4807 (office)
215-667-9537 (cell)