Hack-a-thon looks to curtail health issues affecting the Appalachian region of the state

09/30/2016 05:58 PM

An event focusing on creating effective solutions to the health challenges faced by Kentuckians living in Appalachia is coming to southeast Kentucky.

The first ever Appalachia Health Hack-a-thon, sponsored by Shaping Our Appalachian Region will take place Oct. 6-8 at the Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

The three-day event, modeled after MIT’s Hacking Medicine program that has helped develop solutions to some of the toughest problems in medicine, will bring together people with different backgrounds and expertise to form teams, collaborate within a limited time frame and focus on a specific problem or idea in healthcare to come up with innovative, disruptive ideas and solutions.

By bringing together diverse minds alike in their interest for solving healthcare’s biggest challenges, problems can be diagnosed from multiple different perspectives.

The main focus of the Appalachian Hack-a-thon will be substance abuse, obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Bill Hacker, chair of the SOAR Community Health and Wellness Advisory Council, says that the event will feature a team of individuals from MIT as well as a number of experts across Kentucky who will be serving as coaches for the event.

“We have about 150 people signing up to be participants in this rapid solving program,” Hacker said.

“All day Friday into Saturday, we’ll have these teams developed from the participants to deal with tackling problems related to substance abuse, obesity and diabetes, to try to figure out how can we deal with these issues effectively using innovation, using technology, thinking outside the box to try to really address these health problems.

The mission of SOAR, launched in 2013 by then-Gov. Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers and other stakeholders, is to expand job creation, enhance regional opportunity, innovation, and identity, improve the quality of life and support all those working to achieve these goals in Appalachian Kentucky.

Hacker says one misconception is that SOAR serves only eastern Kentucky.

“The ARC counties actually go past Somerset, toward Bowling Green, past Columbia and Adair County,” Hacker said. “It’s about half of the state of Kentucky, 54 counties.”

More information about the Hack-a-thon can be found on the SOAR website.


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