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Independence Blue Cross and Thomas Jefferson University Health hack to fuel Health Care Solutions

Patient Engagement, Connected Health, and Virtual/Augmented Reality Focus of Second Annual Health Hack (#healthhackPHL)

Philadelphia – November 2, 2016 – Philadelphia’s leading health insurance organization, Independence Blue Cross (Independence), and the Innovation Pillar at Thomas Jefferson University/Jefferson Health, one of the largest health care systems, will host a free Health Hack (#healthhackPHL) Nov. 4-6, designed to help reinvent health care access and delivery by creating innovative solutions to the biggest challenges in the industry today. This second annual event, to be held in the Hamilton Building on the campus of Jefferson University, 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/NBC Universal, CloudMine, Photon Biomedical LLC, NextFab, Ultimaker, and Pro Vision Productions, Inc., as well as IBM, which is sponsoring the opening reception Friday evening. Virtual/augmented reality equipment will be made available by Microsoft.

The hackathon brings together individuals from multiple disciplines 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:

Patient Engagement (sponsored by Independence’s Center for Health Care Innovation)
Patients know their physical and emotional circumstances better than anyone else but they rarely have an active role in the design of treatments, devices, and services. How might we engage patients, providers, and caregivers to be co-designers and collaborators? Potential solutions might look like apps that help patients connect with their care teams, easy-to-use tools for tracking health, or adaptive devices to help persons with disabilities.

Connected Health (sponsored by Comcast/NBC Universal)
Connected health is a model for healthcare delivery that uses technology to provide and augment healthcare remotely. It provides increased, flexible opportunities for consumers to engage with clinicians and better self-manage their care. Using technology to deliver patient care outside of the hospital or doctor’s office, connected health encompasses programs in telehealth, remote care, and disease and lifestyle management, and often leverages existing technologies such as connected devices, wearables, mobile applications, and systems integration.

Virtual and Augmented Reality (sponsored by Photon Biomedical LLC and IBM)
Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) systems are an immersive technology with untapped potential in the healthcare arena. Some pioneers have utilized it to augment medical education, assist with pain management and rehabilitation, and as a tool for mindfulness and meditation exercises. From the low cost and very accessible Google Cardboard to the Microsoft HoloLens, both of which will be available to participants in this track, these technologies have the potential to change the way people interact with technology and the environment around them. Additional immersive technologies include mixed reality, human-computer interface, haptics, and any other technology that bridges the physical world with the digital world.

“The Independence/Jefferson Health Hack continues to expand and adopt new approaches. At MIT Hacking Medicine’s Grand Hack 2016, we redesigned our mentoring approach, which the Health Hack incorporated this year. But this hack also reaches beyond what we and other hacks do, by fearlessly pursuing new technological applications with a diverse group of participants operating outside their silos of expertise,” said Ayesha Khalid, M.D., M.B.A., part of the MIT Hacking Medicine team and advisor to the Health Hack.

“Reimagining the health care experience is not an individual project, it requires collaboration, and our Health Hack with Jefferson is designed to foster that by connecting the people who could make a difference in our region,” said Anthony V. Coletta, M.D., MBA, Executive Vice President and President of Facilitated Health Networks of Independence Blue Cross. “It’s exciting to imagine what can be accomplished when we bring together innovators with a shared commitment to solving problems.”

“I do believe computers will replace 80 percent of what doctors do today, and it will be fantastic,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. “This hackathon with our creative partners allows teams to explore that exciting new reality. We’ll explore artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Those can create a future where augmented intelligence allows physicians to focus on what humans can do, not what robots can do.”

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 again share knowledge and offer use of its facility’s 3D printers, laser cutters, expert woodworking, and other services. Leading desktop 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker will also bring a suite of on-site 3D printing capabilities to the event. 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.

Energizing breaks throughout the weekend will include healthy snacks, yoga, zumba, hip-hop and flash dances.

The Health Hack is part of a 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 is available at

Media Contact:
Ruth Stoolman
215-241-4807 (office)
215-667-9537 (cell)