University of New Orleans healthcare management graduate student Melanie Casey was part of a five-member team that placed first in MIT’s healthcare hackathon challenge, which sought ways to deliver healthcare in a more equitable fashion.
The theme of the competition, held virtually Oct.16-18 because of the coronavirus pandemic, was “Hacking Racism in Healthcare.”
Casey’s team, Hook, Line and Linker, focused on bringing communities and healthcare resources together as part of the social justice and policy track.
The team’s idea centered on using aggregate data to focus on community need and redirecting services to the most needed populations using geo-mapping software, Casey said.
“This was a great opportunity to bring my personal experience, my voice, and my personal interests to the table to hopefully make a real world change,” said Casey, who is a medical cost assistant program representative at Ochsner. “The real world change is what I really wanted out of the experience. This world is changing and we have to do better.”
The hackathon participants form impromptu multi-disciplinary teams of up to seven people who collaborate, research and then address effects of structural racism in healthcare in the United States over the two-day competition. The goal, according to organizers, is to connect teams to tools, resources and supporters that will foster motivated partnerships to bring solutions to life through open innovation after the event.
The competition was divided into seven topical tracks: public health; population health and wellness; individual health and wellness; data bias and clinical research and trials; educational and financial health; social justice and policy; and intersectionality.
Casey’s husband, fellow UNO student Fionn Casey, also participated in the competition. His team, Empower, placed second in the data bias and clinical research and trials track.
Casey said her team would continue to work on their idea and possibly pursue funding grants with the help of mentors.
“I made great friends from all over the world in just a few days. I had CEOs and even a mentor that works for Harvard helping me and my team advance forward with our idea,” Casey said. “We worked hard for a weekend, but the exposure to so many great minds was an amazing opportunity I will never forget.
“Also, being one of those great minds from UNO made me so proud to represent our amazing teachers and our amazing university. If anything, this hack showed me we are receiving a world-class education right here at UNO.”