Hacking Rural Medicine

The winning team came up with the "We Care You Count" project.

Photo provided

A team of entrepreneurs who created a real-time patient satisfaction survey for rural hospitals, using game technology and geodata, won the nation’s first Hacking Rural Medicine event.

Held last weekend at the University of Montana, the two-day competition allowed teams to present their ideas for developing new tools or products to help solve a particular problem experienced by medical facilities or professionals who serve rural areas.

There were nine teams competing before judges from the medical field.

The winning project was called “We Care, You Count,” and it was developed by a team from Missoula-based Geodata Services, iVantage Health Analytics, Allevant Solutions, Health Management Associates and Livingston Health Care.

The team developed a conceptual prototype of a real-time point-of-service customer satisfaction data collection platform. The platform is designed to bring hospitals into the 21st century customer feedback loop and address the change from volume-based services to values-based services.

“It was designed because rural hospitals participate in (customer satisfaction surveys), but because the population is so low, they are not usually statistically significant,” said event organizer Monica Bourgeau of the Frontier Medicine Better Health Partnership. “It is a lot of work to do for them, but they don’t show results because not enough people respond. This addresses that and gives real-time feedback to help them improve performance.”

The winning team received a check for $750, and Bourgeau said they were approached by investors interested in developing the project.

The second-place project was called "Smooth Moves," and is a process and a tool set to allow care providers to follow up with patients after they are discharged.

The crowd favorite award went to "Primary Care Montana," a project that is designed to help rural hospitals better market themselves to recruit desperately needed physicians.

Bourgeau said all nine projects are things that could really transform rural medicine.

“They were all very worthwhile,” she said. “It was exciting. More than 115 people were there from 15 different states. We had three groups call from Oklahoma, Colorado and Kentucky to say they wanted to schedule a rural hackathon in their community. People were excited and want to take the concept further.”

The event, sponsored by Frontier Medicine, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Blackstone LaunchPad, even drew a faculty member from the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“It was better than we had hoped,” Bourgeau said. “People really are connecting and moving forward with projects that are going to live past the weekend. It really was very cool.”

For more information, visit facebook.com/hackingruralmedicine.

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