I’ve always known that there is enormous potential for digital technology to improve and transform healthcare. However, I wasn’t sure how. That is, until I was a judge for Sandoz HACk.
In 2016, Sandoz launched its inaugural Sandoz HACk – Healthcare Access Challenge – encouraging young entrepreneurs from all over the world to use mobile-health (m-health) to help improve access to healthcare in their local communities.
The pace of change in m-health is increasing exponentially, but the question remains whether developments will provide tangible solutions and transform healthcare?
At this year’s WIRED Health, alongside Richard Francis (CEO of Sandoz), Dr Harald Nusser (Head of Novartis Social Business), Roberto Ascione (CEO of Healthware International) and Fredrik Debong (co-founder of diabetes app MySugr), I had the honour of judging the six finalists of Sandoz HACk and helping to choose three winners who would receive 20,000 EUR seed funding and mentorship from Sandoz to help bring their idea to life.
As judges, we wanted to award the ideas and more importantly the people, who would really use this opportunity to turn their solutions into reality. It was important for us to identify those truly great ideas that had the potential to make a difference in areas of the world where healthcare is hard to access. We saw one of two things: Problems that affect a small proportion of the population but run deep within the heart of a community, or problems that could be considered less pressing, but affect billions of people worldwide.
It was an honour to be a judge and meet such inspiring, young entrepreneurs from all over the world who truly cared about their local healthcare challenges. It was a hard task to decide on the three winners and personally, I found it tough to turn some people down. But after a thorough deliberation, the chosen winners were:
Blood Drive – in the Maldives, one out of 120 newborns has the blood condition thalassemia and require regular blood transfusions to survive. Mohamed Shuraih and Yameen Rasheed expressed that this was a problem really specific to their area and shared their own experiences. They presented a simple and direct solution to increasing blood donations – a solution we could see easily becoming a reality.
Save-a-life – Joel Alejandro and Andrea Relucio’s idea centres on the need for CPR training in the Philippines to help with the fact that ambulances find it hard to reach accidents quickly. The need for CPR training is common across the world, so although the idea was inspired by their local community, it was clear that their neat and elegant mobile app solution has the potential to better education worldwide.
GoPharma – The Ghanaian healthcare system is complicated and if you want to make innovation felt you have to work with the system, rather than against it. Elvin Blankson and Priscilla Adu-Darko showed a deep understanding and experience of the healthcare system in Ghana, and showed impressive thinking around how their innovation could work with the system to enable people to gain access to pharmacists across the country.
The premise of this year’s Sandoz HACk was to identify problem-solution pairings and showcase digital technology as a cornerstone to improving healthcare access. With nearly 3 billion people worldwide using smartphones by 2020, Sandoz HACk has provided a platform for these early-phase startups to evolve their m-health solutions and although it’s just the start, I think they all have a chance to make a difference.