I went to the Brisbane 2016 event and saw a lot of interesting problems pitched there from a wide range of problem owners.
After the pitches had finished we started the process of forming teams around the problem owners. I worked with a few of the teams that night to help them better understand their problem. There wasn't any one team I could find that I thought really needed my help full time so I held off joining a team that night. The organisers encouraged me to come back on Saturday and even if I didn't end up joining a team, just keep doing what I had been doing that Friday night and going around and helping teams work on their problems, working in a mentor role.
Come Saturday morning one of the problem owners from Friday night, Kenan, had not been able to secure anyone to work on his problem which was: Overtreatment and overcharging in the dental services market. He also raised the possibility of separating diagnosis and treatment services to encourage competition as a potential solution.
I sat down with Kenan and another person who had been unable to find a team Friday night, Randall, and we decided, after some initial conversations, to work on this problem. One of the volunteers, Gareth, overheard our discussions and was interested enough that he decided to join our team for the weekend as well. The problem Kenan had brought was quite large and didn't have an obvious solution to start work on. So we started working on better defining the problem and potential solutions.
We were very lucky to get some time on Saturday with one of Brisbane’s most experienced dentists, Dr Michael Foley. Dr Foley is a former president of the Queensland Dental Association. After talking through our initial ideas with him we significantly cut the scope of our initial plans. we validated a core problem with him and we also got an idea for a solution. Dr Foley was little short of awesome and we really enjoyed the time he was able to spend with us. He has been an advocate for some time for fluoride in the water supply and has been instrumental in leading the charge against scare campaigns from anti-fluoride groups.
We gathered all the information we had gotten from speaking with Dr Foley and then we set about defining our killer idea/problem really tightly and designing a solution that solved for it. Because of the time left and the type of solution we had chosen, we decided to build to the pitch rather than attempt to build a fully working solution. After discussing the different types of pitch we could do we ended up settling on a theory and design heavy pitch. However we decided to still do a basic prototype just to show the functionality of a working service.
Come Saturday night we were in full building mode.
We dummied up a dataset to use with the prototype, started designing a basic pageflow that would explain the functionality of the service we wanted to build, and we started the outline of our pitch and identifying the components we still needed.
We finalized what we were going to build in terms of functionality about Sunday lunch and that left us a few hours to get a first draft of our pitch out before pitch practice with the River City Labs pitch mentors who had volunteered their time to help out the teams.
It was really interesting seeing the different presentation styles of the River City Labs start-up guys vs an economics lecturer (Kenan). Even though there was quite a divide between how you would pitch for investors and our pitch at HealthHack we still got a lot out of the feedback from the River City Labs mentors and we used all of it to make the pitch much better.
Kenan delivered great pitch at the end. Our project didn't win anything at HealthHack, but that was hardly a disappointment considering how wonderful the projects that did win were.
There were heaps of great solutions from this weekend. I fully expect a fair few of them to actually get up and into production in the near future. Some of them were pretty much ready to go into production at the end of the weekend.
In the end, more than the prizes, we all just really enjoyed working on and learning about areas we knew very little about before coming to HealthHack.
I really enjoyed the challenge of working with a team of people I hadn’t worked with before and working with a problem owner from a field very different to my own experience. It was a good challenge to take the team from the initial problem pitch through to finding and validating the core problem we wanted to solve and then to formulating a solution that solved for it and delivered, what we thought was, value to both consumers and dentists alike.
One last piece of wisdom from our dentist friend, Dr Foley: “If you are getting a crown get gold, especially if it’s one of the back teeth that no can see. Not only is it the best material for a crown but it's also the cheapest.”
The pictures in this article came from a few sources.
Each picture has a link in it out to the creator’s site except for those I took and from the HealthHack promotional material.
HealthHack 2016 Sponsors - Thank you!
None of this would have been possible without the sponsors. Thanks to all of them for making HealthHack happen. Please check them out via the links below.
Itoc, River City Labs, ThoughtWorks, RCC, BlueChilli, Canva, Queensland Government, UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Amazon Web Services, QCIF, iLab at UQ, Data61, Open Knowledge, JetBrains, GitHub, YOW! Australia