Trinity hackathon aims to solve these five global healthcare issues

22 Jan 2019

Image: © alfa27/

In conjunction with Médecins Sans Frontières, Trinity College Dublin is to run a medical hackathon with some big ambitions.

50 students from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) studying bioengineering, computer science and development practice are to be tasked with solving some of the biggest challenges that face aid organisations delivering healthcare to patients around the world.

The Trinity Synergy Challenge – in conjunction with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – will start tomorrow (23 January) and will see students spend the next 12 weeks working on solutions to five challenges that the global aid organisation is eager to find solutions for.

These include:

  • Devising ways for non-medical staff to identify and triage patients with respiratory conditions to allow doctors to spend more time with patients
  • Finding methods for MSF staff working in locations outside of mobile or internet coverage to log problems they encounter during their daily work
  • Designing technological solutions to quickly analyse water quality to improve the quality and efficiency of water and sanitation services
  • Creating a system to optimise healthcare delivery and improve staff retention levels by capturing workforce data on nursing workload, care context and other metrics
  • Increasing the amount of time that MSF doctors can spend on clinical work by devising ways that technology can help keep patients following treatment plans

Calling on the Irish tech community

The final challenge is crucial in the fight against tuberculosis, as MSF has found that in countries where the disease is prevalent, people living with it for years at a time in hospital could be cared for with a new treatment plan at home.

Participants in the hackathon will investigate how a combination of a new methodology called ‘video-observed treatment’ and automated machine analysis could be used to massively scale adherence support, without patients needing to leave their homes and travel vast distances.

“Innovation is integral to MSF’s desire to constantly improve our medical care and our ability to reach millions of patients each year in our projects across the globe,” said Sam Taylor, director of MSF Ireland.

“We hope this hackathon will demonstrate the potential for students, professors and the Irish tech community at large to help solve some of the challenges that MSF encounters in our day-to-day medical work.”

While this is the first year of the hackathon, TCD hopes that in future years it will involve students from other disciplines and new NGO partners.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic