Tools & Technology

A hackathon for medical education: #AMEEHacks

Experts from around the world are competing in Glasgow – join us for live blogging

Print Friendly and PDF
Share story:  

Watch this space for regular blog posts from AMEE Hacks.

Hacking Medical Education

Posted by Louise Moran | 8 September 2015, 3:00 pm GMT +1

The winning team!

48 hours after the close of AMEEHacks and there is still plenty to say about it. With a reach of over 1.2 million on Twitter, the hashtag #AMEEHacks is still trending and the event is increasingly being referred to by medical educators as one they would like to see happening more often. Its impact is far reaching as medical students, developers, designers and entrepreneurs walk away from a weekend of problem solving medical education with a unique and deep knowledge of the problems facing it. “Technology is changing and medical education is not changing quickly enough,” Rakesh Patel @rakeshspatel, Academic Clinical Lecturer in Medical Education at the University of Leicester, and a member of the eLearning Committee within AMEE commented over the weekend, “If events like these don’t happen it will be too late to trigger innovation in medical education.”

With a post-Hackathon event scheduled for the end of September, the teams now have time to further develop before a select few will be able to showcase their technologies at Elsevier’s London Wall office.

Watch this space for further updates.

Cracking the code

Posted by Angelica Sharma | 7 September 2015, 9:00 pm GMT +1

Three days ago, I had no idea what a hackathon was and how popular they were in the computer scientist/ developer community. From the beginning of AMEE Hacks, all the developers and designers were so enthusiastic and curious about what was missing for us medical students and health professionals. They wanted to create something that had never been done before and had no fear of stretching their skills and delving into new areas they hadn't experienced before. I was impressed how each team of developers kept the student at heart and continuously questioned me (as the medical student) as to whether their project was easy to use and even if I liked the colours and font.

It was so pleasing to see and work with such talented and dedicated people, most were students just like me but worked and debated as though they had been professionals for decades (I'm not calling anyone old, I promise! :-p) The platforms used to learn and teach Medicine are changing at a rapid rate, and having met such wonderful people I have faith that they will revolutionise medicine education for the better.

Having just finished my first year of Medicine I have a long road ahead of me, but I know that using MedJunkie and CrystalMed instead of Red Bull and Monster will enrich my learning and make the journey even more enjoyable.

I will make it a point that my peers know what hackathons are and the huge problems in our education they can solve. I will be encouraging them to join in with the all nighters wearing Elsevier hoodies instead of being snuggled up on the sofa at home!

Seventy-two hours on, I would say I am on my way to cracking the code on how to be an inspirational developer. I just need to decide what language to use, maybe Java?

AMEEHacks participants

And the winners are...

Posted by Annelies van Dam | 7 September 2015, 6:50 pm GMT +1

First Prize: MedJunkie

Best use of Elsevier content/data: MedJunkie

eLearning Committee Challenge Winner: IMTS

Best Medic (voted by Elsevier): Uzair Adam

Best Developer: George Corney

Most Innovative Person: Christopher Tse

Best Presentation: IMTS

The Best Twitter Participant: Alicia Beylan

Some of the AMEEHacks 2015 winners

Meanwhile at the Judges table

Posted by Louise Moran | 6 September 2015, 4:52 pm GMT +1

It’s no easy feat presenting a product still in its infancy, conceived only 48-hours before to a room full of medical education teachers and experts, after a night spent staring intently at a laptop screen, fueling your body with sugary snacks and caffeine. It’s even harder when you have to do it to a table of medical education heavyweights spanning the clinical, NHS, medical undergraduate and eLearning arena. Whilst the Judges deliberate we turn the spotlight on them:

  • Alan Ryan
    Technology Enhanced Learning Lead for Health Education England (HEE) and National Programme Director for HEE e-Learning for Health (e-LfH)
  • Madalena Patricio
    AMEE Past-President and Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon.
  • Michael Ross
    Practising GP and editor of Clinical Teacher
  • Stephen Downes
    Leader of the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council.

A hush falls, it’s awards time.

The judges deliberating

Presenting at AMEEHacks…

Posted by Louise Moran | 6 September 2015, 4:30 pm GMT +1

Finally, after 48 hours spent ideating, pivoting, researching, coding, designing and discussing business models the teams are ready to present! There is a charged atmosphere of anticipation and expectation in the room with AMEE delegates, finally given access to the elusive ‘closed’ hackathon, as a keen audience. The judges are quietly conferring at their table, waiting for the pitches to start. Each team has 4 minutes to present and then a further 3 minutes to answer any questions from the judges table. A group of 4 hackers move to the left of the podium, looks like we are about to begin…

One of the teams presenting their ideaTeam #1: Anatomy Academy

3D anatomy annotation and printing platform that provides active learning and instant feedback for Med students.

Team #2: Code Blu

Angelica Sharma and co present a StackOverflow style system for medics around the world to ask and answer each other’s questions  

Team #3: MedJunkie

A platform deconstructing Elsevier textbook content and question banks to enable medics to study and learn in a short space of time through speed reading and testing.

Team #4: Medvita

“choose your own adventure” case study app to help junior doctors practice clinical decisions with the aim of avoiding misdiagnosis.

Team #5: LecLoop

Live lecture feedback from students to combat disengagement and improve teaching styles.

Team #6: UltraScan

A training app to combat maternal mortality with a focus on providing to trainees and doctors in poorer or remote locations.

Team #7: Medify

Encouraging med students of the future and current students to improve their soft skills through reflective practice.

Team #8: Med.Off

Using gamification to make learning fun including “betting” with virtual coins.

Team #9: CrystalMed

An app that links students and doctors to share local information and top tips creating a network of colleagues and knowledge

Team #10: IMTS

Tackling communication skills with a focus on difficult areas like breaking bad news using virtual reality concepts with analytics to measure progress and improvement.


Posted by Angelica Sharma | 5 September 2015, 1:00 pm GMT +1

Team Code Blu at workSuch a crazy night! I got about two hours sleep last night but our site CODE BLU is LIVE!

Everyone worked so hard last night and it was a great laugh! We had a fair share of interesting events such as offering moral support for colour palate problems AGAIN (*ahem* Team Medoff!) to team members offering each other massages to keep them going (very cute).

Working so hard for this now!! Really really excited !!

And the countdown begins…

Posted by Louise Moran | 5 September 2015, 2:10 am GMT +1

With barely a few hours sleep – and some participants with none at all – there is growing buzz (possibly exhaustion) in the room as the teams spend the final few hours of AMEEHacks refining their technologies and practicing product presentations. The teams are advancing at a pace that is incomprehensible – to me anyway – as they display a range of coding, designing, and entrepreneurial skills that has enabled them to turn a complex idea into reality. 

Less than 48 hours ago the participants met, for the most part as strangers, to take part in an event to build the next high impact product/service to drive the medical education industry forward. Now, as they move into the last few hours of AMEEHacks, they are assured that regardless the outcome, what they have achieved in such a short space of time is nothing short of incredible.

How to be a hacker

Posted by Louise Moran and Annelies van Dam | 5 September 2015, 11:00 am GMT +1

Trying not to interrupt the creative/coding flow of the teams we managed to persuade the participants to down tools - Occulus Rifts, Google Glasses - and shut their laptops for a few minutes to help us compile the following list – their advice on what to do if you are attending a hackathon:

  • Get involved. Be confident, don’t be shy.
  • Be open-minded. Individuals with different perspectives merge into teams and everyone should have a say.
  • Expect to learn something new. Never be afraid to do something you don’t know how to do.
  • Always sleep on the first night. It’s a hackathon - lack of sleep is something you should be prepared for.
  • Have a constant supply of sugar. That includes healthy options like fruit as a sugar crash is inevitable.
  • If this isn’t your first hackathon try to engage with new teams. The people you meet will shape and innovate with you.
  • All ideas are good. They just need to be worked on so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
  • Don’t misinterpret the word ‘hacker’. We want to create something new, we want to build something that will have an impact on people’s lives. We want to find a solution.

So who wants to participate in a hackathon?

We've hit midnight at the SECC!

Posted by Angelica Sharma | 6 September 2015, 0:33 am GMT +1

Team Code BluIt's midnight and we are awake! Well, I am... Just. Everyone's still fast at work and no one (as far as I can see) is asleep! Amazing choice of music, so shout out to whoever chose it... I even caught the security man dancing along... Good work guys! 

The Elsevier cupcakes and coffee cups (mugs?) are being put to really good use, thanks! Definitely need to steal your recipe for Code Blue cupcakes :-P I wonder if the world is ready for the first ever forum platform for medical students... Watch this space.

Loads of Cardiff Medics are asking me if I can code... But, unfortunately it's a bit touch and go - I am here for moral support though and that's the most important thing right?

You know it's serious when you've got the orange Elsevier hoodie on, I will make sure I don't fall asleep just so I can update this (and help Code Blue of course ...)

For now I will leave you with a (work) selfie with my amazing developer and friend, Alicia Beylan. :-)

Into the darkness (or orangeness...)

Posted by Angelica Sharma | 5 September 2015, 8:49 pm GMT +1

The hackathon is getting more and more orange...Dinner is finished and we are back in to developing mode!

I'm sat next to a team who have spent half an hour collating the colour palate for their app - so it's all pretty serious!

I've started to create our business plan ready to discuss ideas for the pitch so it's really nice to help the developers in some way! Currently on the section about accessibility and confidentiality - it's really important that anything posted on these apps keeps the patient anonymous!

Really excited to see what snacks River brings back ...

Here's the logo for Code Blu as promised! Can't believe it's almost 9 - better get back to it - it's going to be a long night!

The new logo for Code Blu!

Szechuan chicken and Yoga

Posted by Angelica Sharma | 5 September 2015, 7:03 pm GMT +1

Lunch!I've just had the privilege to speak to leaders in medical education. These included professors and doctors from a range of countries from Dubai to The Netherlands! They gave really positive feedback (and some constructive criticism) - it was great to share our ideas with them and to network some more (I've seen a running theme of this so far during the Hackathon!)

Currently working on a logo, quite difficult actually and debatably the most important part (don't tell the developers I said that!) ... I'll upload an exclusive prototype soon :P

I must mention the amazing Chinese food we had for lunch - am I at a hackathon or a foodathon?

My team member couldn't believe we had spent a WHOLE HOUR eating... We are really 'slack'ing (Slack is a communication tool for those wondering - very technological.)

The yoga participants seem so refreshed and re-energised - perhaps a healthy substitute for the large amounts coffee and Redbull that will probably be consumed tonight?

A yoga session to stretch the body and focus the mind (for those who were able to pull themselves away from their computers for a few minutes...).


Posted by Annelies van Dam | 5 September 2015, 4:03 pm GMT +1

Louise tests out Google GlassNo hackathon would be complete without some cool gadgets! The teams can use Google Glass, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard to help them come up with the most complete user experience for their applications.

Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard

The teams have access to Google Glass, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard

Code Blu

Posted by Angelica Sharma | 5 September 2015, 2:15 pm GMT +1

Team Blue deliberates

This morning's breakfast was absolutely fabulous, great chance to speak to people we didn't meet yesterday and more networking!

Special thanks to Jeremy Chui for directing me and a few others this morning so we didn't get lost - you were great.

Very excited to be alongside the AMEE conference here in the SECC and can't wait to speak to some of the experts in the field about our idea and possible flaws we can improve. Update on the name: we have gone with Code Blu - an app for all your emergency needs!

I've just been gruelled by one of the mentors on our ideas and I think I held out well (hopefully). It's really difficult being put on the spot with your idea and you really need some good defending skills!!

'Team Goat'

Posted by Annelies van Dam | 5 September 2015, 1:29 pm GMT +1

Izz Abudaka, Computer Science studentIzz Abudaka (@iabudaka) is a computer science student from Palestine. He and his ‘Team Goat’ ("The story behind this team name is too long to tell you right now”) are working on an application to maximize studying time and resources for medical students.

“We’re using the principles of speed reading to present the content to the student in the most efficient way possible. The words will flash across the screen, interspersed with images of new concepts, with breaks for quizzes. We're using the XML content from the Elsevier Crash Course series as content for our application.”

Everything is going "as planned", which according to Izz' teammate, may or may not predict a smooth rest of the hackathon...

XML content from the Elsevier Crash Course series is used as content for the app


Posted by Angelica Sharma | 4 September 2015, 11:29 pm GMT +1

Angelica SharmaSo the pitches were absolutely brilliant!! From "MedJunkie" to "It's Never Lupus!". So much passion and dedication at the event... It's buzzing! 

I have joined a team called "Medstack" (though the name is still under consideration). I've got three developers (computer scientists) and me - the medic! There's so much pressure on me to give them all the medicine related ideas... But at least that means I don't have to deal with APIs and Java script (I'm pretending I know what they are... I hope it's working :P). "What language should we use?" Erm? English?... Apparently not, we went with Java in the end. 

Some people have been on eight hackathons and know exactly what they're doing so I'm in safe hands - I might even learn how to code! ;) 

I better head back to the team discussion and try and decode at least some of this computer language!

One of the teams at work

Keeping your eye on the prize…

Posted by Annelies van Dam | 4 September 2015, 10:12 pm GMT +1

Before the participants split up into groups, a lightsaber provides some last-minute motivationNow that the challenges have been laid out, it’s time for some extra motivation. One of the prizes that can be won reminds us that fun is an integral and important part of this hackathon event. It’s nothing other than… a lightsaber!

After the lightsaber is waved in front of them, the participants divide into groups to prepare for their first round of 1-minute pitches.

The Challenges

Posted by Annelies van Dam | 4 September 2015, 9:22 pm GMT +1

AMEE, the E-Learning Committee, and Elsevier each posed challenges for the hackers to solve:

“How can a teacher tailor his/her teaching to meet the different and personal needs of each student?”

“To create a technology solution for collecting real-time in-task data about learner performance with the aim of enabling teachers to give better feedback”
- E-Learning Committee

“Make the best use of technology to make educational resources more useful to your medical studies”
“Make the best use of technology to maximize revision time and resources”
- Elsevier

There are several challenges for the participants to resolve

And we’re off!

Posted by Annelies van Dam | 4 September 2015, 8:07 pm GMT +1

AMEEHacks organizer Jeremy Chui welcomes the participantsAMEEHacks has officially kicked off. After a warm welcome by AMEEHacks organizer Jeremy Chui, different partners described what challenges they are looking to solve.

Madalena Patricio, PhDMadalena Patricio, former president of AMEE, explained:

“AMEE constantly needs to keep up with new challenges in health professional education such as: moving from ‘opinion-based education’ to ‘evidence-based education’, implementing personalized learning and preparing students to address patients’ new demands, new rights and new expectations regarding doctors' roles. It can be hard to see solutions when you’re too wrapped up in the subject matter, that’s why these hackathons are so great. It teaches people how to be creative, break rules, and find solutions under pressure. ”

What is the hackathon about anyway?!

Posted by Louise Moran | 3 September 2015, 9:07 pm GMT +1

Elsevier promotional poster for AMEE HacksThis weekend, designers, developers and medical experts from around the world are converging on Glasgow, Scotland. Their mission: to design and create a solution to the most pressing challenges in medical education.

Likely a first for medical education, the event AMEE Hacks is run by the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), an international organization that promotes excellence in medical and healthcare education.  

As key sponsor, Elsevier will make available content from its key undergraduate textbooks and its exam preparation and simulation tool ExamPrep.

The event is also sponsored by Google, and an impressive cast of societies and start-up organizations who are partnering to focus on improving outcomes in medical education.

Oculus Rift promotional poster for AMEE HacksUsing Elsevier content and cutting-edge hardware like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, the participants will be asked to create a technology that best solves a challenge found in medical education.

With the rise of new technologies, the popularity of e-learning, and the increasing need for personalized learning, medical education has changed significantly in recent years. The challenges presented by Elsevier will reflect students’ need to make the best use of technology to:

  • Make educational resources more useful to their medical studies.
  • Maximize exam preparation time and resources.

Prizes will be awarded for a number of categories, with the overall winning team being given a trip to Amsterdam with an exclusive tour of Elsevier’s headquarters.

One of the participants will come from the team of API experts at Mendeley. API Advocate and hackathon pro Joyce Stack will join one of the hack teams to guide and support participants by drawing on her years of coding and developing experience. We are also sending two mentors to guide and inspire the participants; Clinical Education Product Manager Denise Rea and Product Director Yvonne Ridge.

Angelica SharmaAnother competitor will be Angelica Sharma (@Angelica_Sharma), a second-year medical student at Cardiff University in the UK. She won the final spot for medical students in an online competition held by Elsevier.

Angelica will be blogging here throughout the event.

Elsevier Connect Contributors

Annelies van DamAnnelies van Dam (@anneliesvandam) is Digital Content Manager for Global Communications at Elsevier. She has a master’s degree in Communication and Information Science and is pursuing a degree in Biomedical Sciences in her spare time. In the past she’s worked as a TV journalist, researcher and improv actress. She is passionate about science, using improv to teach communication skills, and learning about gut bacteria (incidentally, her favorite bacteria). She was raised in Canada and the Netherlands, which, on a latitudinal average, would make her home country Greenland. She is based in Amsterdam.

Louise MoranLouise Moran is a Marketing Communications Executive at Elsevier, responsible for education products in the UK and the Netherlands. Based in London, she has previously worked for the Medical Research Council and has a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature from the University of Liverpool. She has a passion for Russian lierature and is currently learning Italian.

comments powered by Disqus

Share story:  

Related Stories