Health Technology for the Other 99%

ABBA Museum_1

I WAS RECENTLY in Stockholm, Sweden, home of the ABBA Museum (it’s really good!), and a hotbed of health and medical innovation, to give a talk during the kick-off of a weekend hackathon focused on health called “Health Hack Day“.

People were invited to come and “Shape the Future” of innovations for healthcare, self-care, and wellness.

My talk was “Health Technology for the Other 99%,” meaning the 99% of our lives during which we are taking care of ourselves and our families. Not the 1% of the time when our doctors are in control.

I highlighted how ignored this situation is, that almost all health innovation is geared towards health professionals even though we (regular people) are doing most of the work. I also provided a framework for thinking of the issues we face, and the opportunities for technology innovation.

You can see my presentation below by clicking through the slides or by watching the YouTube video (or both!):


The hackathon continued all weekend, so I had a chance to hear directly from many people about my talk.

It seems my friend Sara’s diagram (slide 7) really helped to wake people up.  Both the fact that she has a serious illness (Parkinson’s) and yet has so little interaction with HCPS. And that her visualization is much more impactful than the VA diagram (slide 6).

It got people to wake up to the question: Why aren’t we doing more for self-care?

In addition to speaking, I participated as a coach and judge for the event.

It was amazing. The projects showed a wide range of interests, and a ton of creativity. Many teams tackled important, and not just fashionable, issues. I was very surprised and pleased to see that many projects fit the theme of “health technology for the other 99%.”

The winning team “Better Kay” addressed the issue of women with urinary incontinence. Their idea was a system consisting of a device and a smartphone app that helps with Kegel exercises. (see video)

The second prize went to the “Right Angle” group. This team developed a tool to easily measure range of motion to help with physical therapy. Talk about creativity! They used the little, plastic salad bowls from our lunch to house their hardware. (You can see this gadget in the slide about 50 seconds into the following video.)

The Hacker2Hacker “audience award” went to “Happy Chores”, a game to encourage children to do their household chores. Seems that hacker parents have no more success with this than the rest of us! (see video below)

It was a long plane ride back from Stockholm to San Francisco, but I thought the overall experience was well worth my time, and they want me to come back. It is so great to see health technology innovation isn’t just a Silicon Valley phenomenon.

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