Australia’s Health Hackathon to tackle the biggest challenges of the country’s ageing population

By 2060 14.4 percent of Australia’s population will be over 75
HealthXL and IBM will bring together clinicians, developers and user experience specialists to create innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for the elderly

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - 06 Jul 2015: HealthXL, a global market for health innovations, and IBM are partnering to host a health hackathon to tackle some of the biggest challenges for Australia’s aged population. The aim is to co-create innovative solutions and tools in the areas of dementia, social isolation, physical activity and malnutrition that will help improve the lives of Australia’s elderly population and their families. The event will be held on July 10, 11 and 12 at the Carlton Connect Initiative in Melbourne. The weekend will bring together user experience designers, clinicians, software developers, hardware engineers and business minds.

The Facts: Australia’s aging population

• Dementia, social isolation, loneliness and malnutrition are also among the top list of concerns for elderly people.

• Australia’s population aged 75 or more years is expected to rise by 4 million from 2012 to 2060, increasing from about 6.4 to 14.4 percent1.

• Alzheimer’s Australia predicts in the next ten years the number of Australians living with dementia will exceed 400.000.

• A recent study by Whiddon revealed that more than 1.4 million people aged 65 and over experience loneliness in their lives2

During the hackathon, multidisciplinary teams will work together to find the best solutions to these challenges. The participants will work directly with age health experts from HealthXL, Northern Health and Alzheimer’s Australia, along with health researchers and technical experts from IBM. These mentors will provide frontline insights into the challenges and concerns when providing support services for the elderly.

Participants will also have access to IBM’s platform-as-a-service, Bluemix, the largest Cloud Foundry deployment in the world. With a developer friendly catalogue of over 100 tools and services of the most prominent open-source technologies combined with IBM and third-party services, Bluemix allows developers to focus all of their energy on the creation of enterprise class cloud applications at consumer scale. Additionally, IBM Cloud experts will be on hand to provide technical advice and support to teams choosing to code on the platform.

The winning team will be invited to present their solution in front of global digital health thought leaders at the HealthXL Global Gathering to be held in Munich in September. They will also work with clinicians and community care providers in the Northern Health hospital network to refine and complete a prototype of their solution for trialling with patient groups.

“The age structure of the world's population, and specifically the Australian population, is shifting with a projection for close to 20% of the population to be over 80 years old by 2050. Together with HealthXL we've defined the most urgent health concerns and as a result the hackathon focuses on dementia, malnutrition, social isolation and physical activity among our older adult population,” said Associate Professor Kwang Lim, Chief Medical Officer at Northern Health.

“Only new types of collaborations can solve problems as big as the problems related to Aging. The mission of this HealthXL Hackathon is to catalyse such collaborations between our partners, IBM, Northern Health, and the most promising digital health teams to improve the quality of life of elderly people”, said Martin Kelly, CEO & Cofounder of HealthXL. "Technology is key to developing solutions that help care for aged population. For real innovation to happen throughout the care path, we need all the major stakeholders to work together and actively engage in moving the needle from what’s possible today".

“The event is the perfect intersection of disruptive, innovative thinking combined with human-centred insights to help improve the quality of life for the elderly. Around the world IBM is partnering with enterprise, government and organisations bringing new ideas and creative thinking to solve real challenges”, said Annette Hicks, IBM ANZ Health Industry Lead. “Our Health team is looking at how technology can enable people to live active and engage lives in their own homes for longer. A recent example is the joint initiative with Japan Post and Apple to deliver iPads and custom applications to connect elderly people in Japan to services, family and community.”

The “Hack Aging” hackathon by HealthXL and IBM is a result of their collaboration with numerous partners including Northern Health, Startup HealthTech, EY, Braintree by PayPal, Azul 7, Carlton Connect Initiative, Aging 2.0, BioMelbourne Network, Fire Films, Roche Diagnostics and more.

For more information on the hackathon: 

About IBM Health: 

About HealthXL:

HealthXL is a global market for health innovations. We catalyse collaboration between leading brands in healthcare and the most exciting tech companies to improve the lives of millions of people. Our clients are IBM, Bupa, Cleveland Clinic, Becton Dickinson, ICON, ResMed, Janssen Healthcare Innovation, Linde Healthcare, Novartis, Partners HealthCare, Silicon Valley Bank, EY, SoftServe, Hermitage Medical Clinic, SoftLayer, Apollo Hospitals, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Twitter: @health_xl 

1 1. Productivity Commission 2013, An Ageing Australia: Preparing for the Future, Commission Research Paper Overview, Canberra.

2 2. The 2015 Social Isolation and Loneliness Report, conducted by Galaxy Research on behalf of Whiddon,