Challenge Description


Each year, six million children still die before their 5th birthday and infectious diseases such as AIDS and malaria still kill millions across the globe. In the developing world we face a new battle as our healthcare services are ill-equipped to deal with rapidly changing healthcare needs as a result of ageing populations and the rise of chronic illness.

The good news is that digital technologies are promising a radical new world of personalised, predictive and preventative healthcare. So join the healthcare revolution! Nowhere else will your impact be so fundamental to people’s lives.


Workshop topic 1: Invisible healthcare


a new perspective on happy ageing


In Europe, population ageing is a long-term trend with profound implications for our healthcare systems. As people age, they become more vulnerable to age-related disease and disability. Key risk factors include injury from falls, development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation and exclusion, in turn associated with mental health problems such as depression. In Europe, we urgently need to find better and more scalable ways of taking care of our ageing populations. This includes both detecting and diagnosing problems and effectively managing those problems in a sustainable way.

However, what we absolutely want to avoid is a situation where being old is equated to being permanently ‘in care.’ Actually, we would like to die young … as late as possible

How can we keep people for as long possible in a ‘life’ context? In other words, how can we provide the best possible care, but in effect make it invisible? For example, imagine the functionality and power of an ICU in your bedroom at home. How can we simplify complex medical technology and make it largely invisible to patients? And how can we measure health parameters such a blood pressure in an entirely different way that is both automatic and invisible? Or better, what would it take to execute clinical trials, no longer in the artificial environment of a hospital, but in the Real World setting of your living room?

Join us in this workshop and let’s create happy ageing environments of the future!


Workshop topic 2: Hospitals of the Future

Bold Ideas Needed!


Next to the aforementioned aging population, Europe encounters an increasing prevalence of chronic illness and a shortage of healthcare workers. If we want to treat tomorrow’s patients with the best possible medical care, then we will need radical innovation. Incremental improvements won’t do; instead we should be asking: how can we make this particular process or intervention 10X if not 100X better or more efficient?

For hospitals the key challenge is to more effectively deploy specialized medical care over larger populations – and to do so beyond the hospital walls. In this context, patients will only come in when it is absolutely necessary, for example, for complex diagnostic tests, operations or emergencies. All the more routine interventions and follow-up could be done in a ‘virtual hospital’ on a remote basis, for instance, at the patient’s home. Primary care providers and monitoring technology, smart medical devices, collaborative health records and communication technology can help to make this happen.

This transition will entail a major shift in the way healthcare is organized – and technology will play a pivotal role in enabling that shift. So join us in this workshop to create radically better and more scalable healthcare services that take us to a healthier future.


Workshop topic 3: Your Digital Twin


a new paradigm for preventative care


In Europe, we can do a much better job preventing disease and illness. In Flanders, for example, the Agentschap Zorg & Gezondheid estimates that nearly one in five of all deaths in 2014 could ‘theoretically’ have been avoided, and 82% of those could have been avoided through prevention. In fact, our entire healthcare system is still based on a curative model where we only really intervene when the damage is already done.

Imagine having a digital guardian angel that automatically crunches vast amounts of biological, behavioural and environmental data to spot and predict personalised health risks, before they cause real harm. Imagine having a ‘digital twin’ that automatically simulates (or tests) changes or interventions in your lifestyle or environment before they are actually executed. Or testing novel drug candidates before they are even synthesised. A kind of completely virtual clinical trial! Can you imagine the power this would give us in both preventing ill health and proactively pursuing health and well-being?

In this workshop, we’ll explore ideas for making your digital twin a reality, both in the back-end (data sources, AI, etc.) and the front-end (interfaces, etc). For the latter, health track curator Koen Kas will propose a wild idea, together with fashion tech queen Jasna Rok.

Want to us to tell you when the full Hack Belgium program is ready?

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