Philly ‘health hack’ comes up with plan for drone-delivered meds in time of crisis

 A DPD Geopost prototype drone  carrying a parcel flies during a test flight in Pourrieres, southern France, in June. GeoPost, a package delivery subsidiary of LaPoste, is set to launch a program which will see parcels delivered by drones. The GeoDrone completed its first successful automated flight last September. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

A DPD Geopost prototype drone carrying a parcel flies during a test flight in Pourrieres, southern France, in June. GeoPost, a package delivery subsidiary of LaPoste, is set to launch a program which will see parcels delivered by drones. The GeoDrone completed its first successful automated flight last September. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

The premise was simple. Get 250 free-thinkers in a room, give them 48 hours and some coffee, and watch as they come up with creative solutions to some big health care challenges.

The city’s first “health hack,” sponsored by Jefferson Health and Independence Blue Cross, split teams into three tracks, including reducing hospital readmissions; designing new wearable technologies; and using drones to deliver health care.

Yup, drones.

“Mostly because drones can get to places a lot faster than humans,” said Connor Gallic, vice president for Philadelphia-based Drone Cast, which offered attendees access to its drones, as well as technical support.

Teams on the drone track came up with novel ways to deliver drugs to patients and increase communication abilities for first responders in disaster zones. Other ideas emerging from the health hack included a bicycle helmet with a built-in airbag, as well as a platform to help amputees design and fabricate their own artificial limbs.

“It is amazing,” said Bon Ku, an emergency medicine physician at Jefferson Health and co-organizer of the hack. “We are getting all these people in a room — we don’t care where you are from — and saying, ‘Let’s think about how we can solve sticky and wicked problems in health care.’ And the energy here has been incredible.”

Those who came up with the top ideas in each of the three tracks were awarded a $5,000 cash prize. Jefferson Health CEO Stephen Klasko told the crowd he’s looking forward to a bigger health hack next year.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.