Students from different backgrounds came together to work on solutions to some of the biggest problems facing the healthcare sector. Their ideas show the future is in very good hands.

Imagine an artificial intelligence system guiding you through your hospital stay. Then making sure you get the support you need after you are discharged. Or an app that learns what you like then prompts you on easy ways to improve your health and wellbeing. These were two of the innovations developed during the 48 Hour Health Challenge. The Health Precinct-sponsored event gave students the chance to share their ideas and interact with current health and business leaders.

Over 48 hours, teams chose a challenge; researched and developed a plan to address it; then ran their idea past mentors who helped and challenged them to improve their solution. The weekend culminated in a presentation by teams to a panel of judges, including experts in health, business, technology, and entrepreneurship.

The winning team consisted of a medical student, web developer, data scientist, marketing student, and public health specialist. Their innovation was called KanohiDB. It centres around a novel method of storing data developed at Stanford University, and only used by a small number of leading international software developers. Winning team member, and University of Otago medical student, Gabrielle Budd says KanohiDB pulls together myriad sources of information about an individual’s health and wellbeing into one easy-to-use format. What this means is that health professionals can access all relevant health and wellbeing information when treating a patient. The system has a very stringent security access system so only those who should be accessing it can.

The second-placed team came up with a concept called AiME. This is a culturally-responsive virtual nurse ready to answer medical questions, keep everyone informed of progress and discover patient-specific information relevant to discharge and recovery, such as how much support is available at home.

Pocket-Doc was the brain child of the third-placed team. The app is a solution to patients failing to do things their doctor suggests or that are good for their health. The key to Pocket-Doc is that it learns what things work for each individual, and what behaviour changes drive improved health.

Health Precinct Advisory Council (HPAC) member Amber Clarke says the collaboration and diversity of thinking the groups applied to challenges reflects the way HPAC partners work together to enhance the hauora of our communities.