Samsung at the MIT Grand Hack: Using Technology to Promote Healthcare Innovation

Samsung at the MIT Grand Hack: Using Technology to Promote Healthcare Innovation

Diego Lizarazo Rivera

Samsung Electronics is in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to foster creativity and innovation to solve health care big problems, with the help of modern technology. As part of this partnership, we recently hosted the MIT Hacking Medicine Grand Hack in Washington DC.

Just like the Boston event held in June, this hackathon differed from other developer events in a few important ways:
The interdisciplinary focus was obvious from the moment teams were formed, just after the keynote on Friday. Feasibility and business viability were integral to all pitches. But most importantly, there was no need to code and all projects were problem-centered work or covered real user needs.

The three-day event started on August 2nd and was hosted in Samsung’s Solutions Center in Washington D.C. During the weekend students, engineers, designers and developers participated in one of the three tracks forming groups, and bringing their diverse views and backgrounds to offer new solutions to problems that affect the lives of millions of people in America.

These were the three tracks that participants could be part of:

  • Access to health care
  • Mental health and professional burnout
  • Rare and orphan diseases.

Each track had a winner, and sponsors and partners also awarded teams that showed promising ideas.

Samsung provided Galaxy Note9 phones and Galaxy Watches to allow teams experiment and find out the best way to integrate the different sensors and SDKs into their own projects. We saw some creative uses of Samsung technologies and genuine desire to improve the health care system leveraging modern technology.

The Key Watch team won the Samsung Breakthroughs That Matter Award in the Rare and Orphan Diseases track. This team was distinguished not only for the clarity of their project, but also for their enthusiasm to incorporate Samsung technologies in their pitch.

The Key Watch team with Christopher Balcik, Samsung Vice President of Federal Government Business

The Key Watch team with Christopher Balcik, Samsung Vice President of Federal Government Business

During the weekend, the team developed a way to monitor response to medication to tackle misdiagnosis of Parkinson’s disease vs drug-induced parkinsonism (DIP), which is the second most common cause for parkinsonism.

While displaying similar symptoms, a rare disease requires an entirely separate treatment process. Additionally, up to 15% of Parkinson’s disease patients have the rare variant DIP, so, Key Watch’s solution could improve the life of tens of thousands, just in the US.

Their envisioned system would work like this:

  1. A patient having parkinsonism symptoms would come in to consult with the doctor on an actionable plan for their treatment.
  2. Because Parkinson’s Disease accounts for 85% parkinsonism cases, they are likely to be classified as having Parkinson’s disease (PD).
  3. They are given treatment for PD and monitored – if their symptoms get better, as detected by Key Watch’s platform, then that would support their diagnosis.
  4. However, if the patient actually has DIP, the PD medication would have little to no effect, and through Key Watch’s continuous monitoring tool doctors can quickly intervene and pivot the treatment protocol.
  5. After enrolling on the platform, Key Watch would have continuous feedback on the patients tracked symptoms over time, which enables the doctor to effectively adjust the drug dosage.
Key Watch: The full team

Key Watch: The full team

The Key Watch members looked into the different sensors that the Samsung Galaxy watches could provide them, and focused on the gyroscope and the accelerometer APIs, that would give them data from a patient’s movements, including tremors and slow movement. With enough data, and medical experience, the proposed system would be able to detect the source of a patient’s movement abnormalities.

To learn more about how you can get access to the Samsung wearable devices sensors, visit the Samsung Developer Program and start creating your own apps now.

Stay tuned for more information about this event in the coming weeks!