Klick Health

Hacking Healthcare

VP Strategy

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Last week the MIT Grand Hack exponentially accelerated healthcare innovation by bringing together engineers, clinicians, designers, developers, and entrepreneurs. How is agile methodology transforming medicine, and what should pharma marketers know about this revolutionary new way of doing tech?

Remember SPY vs. SPY from Mad Magazine? Since 1961 these two sinistral agents have duked it out, the pair indistinguishable aside from their non-descript trench coats and wide brim fedoras, one wearing black, the other white. Using an endless arsenal of guns, knives, explosives, and booby-traps they have tirelessly blown each other up for reasons as mysterious and arbitrary as their complementary outfits, only to come back again the next issue, rebooting battles anew.




Computer hackers also come in both varieties, black hats cracking code for fun and profit, white hats using the same expertise to keep systems safe. And much like the comic strip villains the two types not only complement each other, but often switch allegiances, bad guys busted and becoming good, good guys playing both sides and turning grey to blue. From Trojan horses to Rootkits to viruses, Hacker vs. Hacker battles continue to drive innovation from both sides of the law.

That spirit of rogue experimentation and techie competitiveness has come to characterize the “hackathon,” or hacking marathons where cross-disciplinary, self-organizing teams assemble to intensively collaborate on software and hardware projects. Applying the core principles of agile methodology to rapidly synergize otherwise fragmented and distended development cycles, hackathons bring together the brightest to do the best for the common good.



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Hacking Medicine

Dovetailing off the success of last year’s healthcare hackathon, the 2016 MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack recently spanned three days across three tracks: Chronic Conditions, Healthcare at Home, and Connected Health. Bringing together experts from software and hardware design to medical clinicians, pharma scientists, patient advocates, marketers, and healthcare entrepreneurs, participants formed teams to compete and create disruptive health solutions.

Throughout the hackathon pressing problems got pitched, experts mingled, teams formed, ideas got prototyped, business models were developed, and solutions presented. Check out the highlights and over 350 organizations taking part; by the end of the third day each team peddled their final presentations to a panel of esteemed judges across each track, with winners awarded for every category. The Twitter stream and FB page caught a glimpse.

With the express goal to “energize, infect and teach healthcare entrepreneurship and digital strategies to scale medicine as a way to solve health problems worldwide,” the MIT Grand Hack creates innovative solutions to disrupt the status quo, and define a new and effective way of integrating key healthcare system stakeholders, subject matter experts, academicians, technologists, and business investors throughout an iterative design and development process.


From Waterfalls to Sprints

Few verticals present challenges as complex as those found in healthcare, where today’s perfect storm of clinical and technological disruption is matched only by the sluggishness of administrative and regulatory red tape. Pharma marketers particularly feel the pinch, physicians and patients expecting connectivity on their own terms, a level of spontaneity and personalization often at odds with the protective controls set by HIPAA and the FDA.

At Klick, we understand the pressure points, and have stayed on the forefront of what’s possible by using data driven insights to precisely target and engage our audiences. Taking a customer-centric view to healthcare solutions often demands a hybrid of traditional linear development processes with an iterative methodology more akin to the Grand Hack: Assembling a multidisciplinary team of experts for immersive and iterative “sprints” to get the job done:




As the consumer ecosystem evolves from brands pushing content to individuals demanding personalized, real time services, pharma marketers must shift to omni-channel strategies, often made possible by including an agile approach to development. Are your agency partners actively hacking healthcare? Are they leading the disruption, or suffering from it? Is data part of the problem, or a central component of your solution? Let’s get started!

More About the Author

Michael Spitz

A digital health expert since before digital health was cool, Spitz has since developed omnichannel campaigns for top pharma and device brands, and helps drive agency innovation, digital transformation, and emerging channels. See him present at conferences, read his blogs, and follow him for the latest trends and opinions on Twitter @SpitzStrategy.

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