February 07, 2018

InnoHack competitors team up to fight Alabama’s opioid crisis

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Opioid overdoses killed more than 40,000 Americans in 2016 — more than five times the number who died in 1999. InnoHack 2018 chose the opioid crisis as the biggest health care crisis facing Alabama and assigned the 80 competing professionals and students with the task to “hack” for 24 hours and find solutions to the opioid crisis in Jefferson County.

The 80 competitors were randomly divided into 16 teams and spent Jan. 19-20 at Innovation Depot developing solutions they pitched to experts in the field. The best ideas survived a preliminary round of judging and then faced off in the finals.

The top three teams earned prize money, and health care organizations across Jefferson County considered their ideas for implementation, with hope that parts of the team’s ideas can be implemented.

The first place team, who won $2,500, included:

  • Judi Hakim, student, UAB School of Medicine
  • Jonathan Pilgrim, student, UAB Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA)
  • Lucas Prather, student, UAB MSHA
  • Jody White, nurse manager, UAB Hospital

The second place team, who shared $1,500 in prize money, included:

  •  Matthew Barnes, student, UAB MSHA
  • Becky Langner, nurse manager, UAB Hospital
  •  Matt Waldrop, student, UAB MSHA and Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI)

The third place team, who split $500, included:

  • Kody Brinton, student, UAB MSHA
  • Rylie Hightower, student, Master of Science in Biomedical Neuroscience
  • Rajesh Pillai, systems architect, UAB
  • Kylie Woodman, student, Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Communication Management

“The experience of students working alongside professionals enables the teams to create innovative ideas,” said Teresa Shufflebarger, chief strategy officer, Brookwood Baptist Health and developer of the InnoHack concept. “It lets them see firsthand the value of collaboration, as well as understand the importance of different perspectives on the challenging issues related to the opioid crisis.”.

Zelia Baugh, vice president of Psychiatric Services at Brookwood Baptist Health provided an overview of the opioid issues and shared areas the teams should address, including:

  • Providing novel ways to get Naloxone kits—the medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose—more widely available and closer to situations where overdoses occur
  • Increasing education about the signs and symptoms of overdoses and the proper use of Naloxone to addicts by friends, family and law enforcement agencies
  • Creating ways to reduce bias among health care provider communities toward those persons who suffer from substance abuse

Each team had access to six professionals from the Birmingham community who served as mentors and provided expertise, insight and advice on “Design Thinking” and innovation.

The event, sponsored by Brookwood Baptist Health, the UAB Schools of Health Professions, Medicine, Public Health and Nursing, as well as Think Data Solutions and Innovation Depot, brings together multidisciplinary teams to solve a critical health care issue annually.

Randa Smith Hall, Christy Lemak and Kevin Storr wrote this article.