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Youths solve pressing healtcare problems in 24 hours at HealthHacks PH 2016

Twelve teams from schools all over Manila participated in HealthHacks PH 2016 - the first Philippine health hackathon exclusively for students

by Brian Tan, January 27, 2016

Last January 23-24, HealthHacks PH - a non-profit organization run by college students passionate about solving healthcare problems through technology - held the first ever health hackathon for students in the Philippines in Microsoft's Office, Makati.

Twelve teams from different schools all over Metro Manila participated in the competition. The main objectives of HealthHacks were to stimulate innovative thinking in the participants by presenting them the problems being faced in Philippine and global healthcare, as well as to inspire the talented students to create tech solutions to these problems.
Day 1 of HealthHacks - Participants getting ready for the 24-hour hackathon.

Inspired by His Dad

During the welcoming remarks, HealthHacks founder Kyle Tan gave the participants an inspiring, personal speech about why he created this organization and event.

“I was inspired to start this initiative by my dad,” said the HealthHacks founder. Kyle’s dad suffered 6 long years of pneumonia, which developed into stage 4 cancer.  As such, Kyle was motivated to solve this problem of “hacking” cancer.  The best way he found to do that was by organizing a healthcare hackathon - so HealthHacks PH was born.

 A Gathering of Experts in Healthcare
HealthHacks PH also successfully gathered an esteemed set of speakers, mentors, and judges.  Among the speakers were Dr. Raymonde Uy, who is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Medical Informatics at the National Library of Medicine, and Farouk Meralli, the CEO of mClinica, a local healthtech startup.

“Technology is shaping the modern practice of medicine,” said Dr. Raymonde. He gave the participants a talk that discussed the many ways on how Health Informatics is changing the lives of both doctors and patients - and how faster adoption of it is needed in the country.

Farouk's Crazy Startup Journey

Meanwhile, Farouk Meralli, who holds a Masters in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, talked about his own personal startup journey - from living in the US, to working at big pharma companies, to having to build a company for the Philippines in such a short amount of time.

“I had 60 days to get the first pharmacy in, otherwise I would lose my first payment. 60 days - do or die. Luckily, I found a great team to build the tech. It worked enough, so we got our first pharmacy in, and from there it just grew,” said Meralli.

Problem Pitches and Hacking Time

Following the talks came the problem pitching time - a segment borrowed from the Hacking Medicine program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  During this time, each participant gave a 30-second pitch about a problem in healthcare he/she wanted to solve.  Afterwards, the participants teamed up into groups of three. The teams refined their ideas and consulted with the experienced mentors in attendance, which included Jay Fajardo of Medifi and Marc Medina of MEDIX - 2 CEO’s of local healthtech startups.

The rest of the day was left for the participants to ideate, validate, and hack their ideas into creation, with some participants choosing to not sleep during the overnight event.
Final Pitching to the Judges

On the 2nd day, after more than 20 hours of work, the participants finally had to pitch their ideas to an esteemed set of 6 judges. They had to present to the panel of Farouk Meralli and Dr. Raymonde Uy; Martin Gomez from IBM; Rodrick Tan from By Implication; Dr. Ruby Cristobal from the Department of Science and Technology - Science Education Institute; and Kit Sumabat from the Philippine Nursing Informatics Association.

After almost two hours’ worth of presentations and demos, three teams were named the winners of the first ever health hackathon for students in the Philippines.

The third and second prizes, which were cash prizes of P1,000 and P2,500, went to Team #SQUAD and Team STDuty respectively. Team #SQUAD, composed of Andre Cauilan, Xavi Ablaza, and Aldrin Mallari, created Insuloop - an app and a portable hardware solution that aims to help Type 1 Diabetes patients with an automated glucose monitor and insulin pump.  On the other hand, Team STDuty, composed of Lizeth Baldelomar, Frances Calceta, and Gabby Torres, created Seize The Date - a game that seeks to educate teenagers about sexually transmitted diseases through interactive storylines.

The grand champion of HealthHacks PH was Team Bitscript - a group of 14-year-old Grade 9 students from Xavier School.  Team Bitscript, composed of Jacob Dy, Zachary Sy and Phillbert Tan, created Temperate, a cloud-based data management and collaboration platform that includes an electronic medical record system, a user ID system with personalized image detection, and real-time QR and barcode processing. The team was awarded P5,000 in cash, and the opportunity to be incubated by Farouk Meralli, the CEO of mClinica.

With the help from their major sponsors - Microsoft, Kickstart Ventures, and Infosys - together with the inspiration and expertise given by the mentors, speakers, and judges, HealthHacks PH's first event proved to be a rousing success. Now, it is up to the participants to continue developing their apps and become the next generation of healthcare game-changers in the Philippines.

For people interested to know more about or contact HealthHacks PH, you may visit their Facebook page at, or their website at

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