MedStar Health Engages Mobile App Developers to Improve A Common Healthcare Experience

The MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) recently partnered with the Application Developers Alliance to convene a group of developers and designers for a 24-hour “Health Hack” with the goal of identifying a means to improve one of the most common healthcare scenarios: waiting in the hospital waiting room.

The hackathon, which took place April 13 in Washington, D.C., challenged talented and creative entrepreneurs and innovators from outside the healthcare industry to come up with a mobile application to address the needs of patients and their families during the waiting period.

MI2 was chartered in 2009 by MedStar Health to channel creativity and innovation that advances health, tapping into MedStar associates, as well as entrepreneurs from other sectors, to address challenges facing the healthcare industry today. These challenges are as global as redefining the healthcare delivery system and as individual as improving the patient-family experience.

“We need to engage not only our own creative talent but also to look outside of health care to other disciplines to design and create innovative solutions to our most difficult healthcare challenges.,” said Mark Smith, MD, director of MI2. “To paraphrase an African proverb: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” he added.

The hackathon provided the teams with five different waiting room scenarios from which to choose, supplied a mock data set that mimicked typical healthcare facility patient flow-through, and also gave 24-hour access to MedStar Health associates for consultation. The space in which the Health Hack was held—Uber Offices, a collaborative workspace in Washington, D.C.—fostered the creative atmosphere the hackathon organizers had hoped to achieve. The panel of judges was made up of experienced individuals from health care, mobile technology and business. Judging criteria included creativity and innovation, benefit for users, technical merit, and overall quality and potential.

The first place team created “Evergreen,” which tracks the patient throughout the visit using iBeacon, a low-energy, BluetoothTM technology. When the patient moves from operating room to post-op, for example, the waiting family member gets real-time updates. The team’s inspiration was the Domino’sTM Pizza TrackerTM, which is a good example of intersectional-thinking that borrows from vastly different industries to solve problems.

The second place team created “Free Up Share+” that allows a patient to share progress of a healthcare visit with a friend or family member via portal from information directly pulled from the electronic healthcare record. And the third place team created “Mediconcierge,” an app that replaces the traditional reception desk check-in process.

A video of the Health Hack shows the dynamic, creative atmosphere of the event. Rules and judging criteria are available at

MI2, which in May became a Founding Partner of 1776, Washington, D.C.’s premiere startup incubator, plans to host additional hackathons and other similar challenge events.

About The MedStar Institute For Innovation

MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) was chartered by Ken Samet, President and CEO of MedStar Health, in 2009 and serves as a catalyst and seed crystal for innovation across the entire MedStar organization. The mission of MI2 is to catalyze innovation that advances health; its mantra is “Think Differently.” MI2’s foundational premises are: 1. A huge amount of untapped and undertapped creative and intellectual energy exists at MedStar; 2. the tyranny of the daily trumps the pursuit of the remarkable ( the absence of a countervailing force). MI2’s scope includes initiatives in human factors engineering, education and simulation training, information infrastructure, technology development and commercialization, and processes and systems of care delivery.

About MedStar Health

MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit

About The Application Developers Alliance

The Application Developers Alliance is a global membership organization supporting developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Alliance members include more than 30,000 developers and more than 175 companies in the apps ecosystem.

For Media Contact: 

Ann Nickels
Assistant Vice President
PR & Communications
[email protected]