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HealthEDGE taking applications to transform healthcare

In a collaboration between Toronto-area hospitals, health care professionals and the University of Toronto, students are encouraged to submit ideas for the HealthEDGE initiative, a year-long health care hackathon aimed at improving healthcare delivery. 

“We are all touched by the health system from birth.  And at times we have all experienced moments where we have witnessed snags, frustrations, delays, fundamentally illogical processes or practices, and outdated devices or approaches.” said Joseph Ferenbok, a University of Toronto professor and co-director of the Faculty of Medicine’s Health Innovation HUB (H2i). “But though we may have had these experiences, we are not all in a position to do something about these frustrations.” 

The current call for proposals is the first round of the initiative. A panel of industry experts will curate the submissions and channel them to teams of students with expertise in a variety of disciplines, and the groups that present the most interesting ideas will get at least $10,000 in funding. “The advantage of the HealthEDGE initiative is that it is an on-the-ground attempt to reach out to a variety of people, curate and categorize their experiences into practical challenges that are put in front of creative entrepreneurial minds to generate, develop, test and evaluate potential innovations,” said Ferenbok. “In doing so, we empower people in communities that may not be able to address the issues they identify.”

While the health care system in Canada is notorious for being slow to adopt innovative solutions, Ferenbok said that the fact they are working with hospitals as partners is an advantage. “Not only will some of the challenges come from within the hospital communities, mentorship and development will also be done in coordination with the hospitals, said Ferenbok. “We hope that this type of buy-in will create local champions who are aware of the innovation and act as internal advocates to help improve the chances of adaptation.”
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