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MHA student’s senior care app wins hackathon prize

Jan 31, 2017 |

An app for seniors’ care, the brainchild of Master of Health Administration (MHA) student Christina Chiu, has taken home a health authority hackathon prize.

The app, ‘CareCrew’ was awarded the X-Factor prize, one of nine categories at the Fraser Health Hackathon. More than 80 developers took part in the hackathon from January 21 to 22, the first held by the health authority, in partnership with Simon Fraser University, the City of Surrey and Innovation Boulevard, with support from the Health Tech Innovation Foundation, OpenDataBC, and TELUS.

Miss Chiu said the idea for the app came about during her time working as a consultant for administrative services in residential homes, when a mislaid care plan for an elderly patient, and an MHA course, first made her consider electronic care plans.

Serving as a “collaborative to-do list,” the app loops in health care workers and family members for a patient’s care, with modules including a schedule with notes, medical history, current symptoms with a RAI home care pain scale, and notifications or updates specific to each user. The app helps address the burnout seen in families trying to take care of normal responsibilities, such as children, as well as elderly parents, in an easy, accessible way, Miss Chiu said.

“We have an aging society and we have families who want to take care of their aging loved ones. There needs to be more support and tools to make sure Mum and Dad are ageing well at home.”
CareCrew ceo Christina Chiu

She now works on the app full-time, with a team of six. It has evolved over time thanks to her MHA course-work, Miss Chiu said, including an assignment she was able to repurpose for its business development.
“I’m always pulling learning from school.”

Christina Chiu

CareCrew ceo and MHA student Christina Chiu

MHA instructor and health systems consultant Duncan Campbell, who has previously served as chief financial officer for Alberta Health Services and Vancouver Coastal Health, said his class had many outstanding leaders including Miss Chiu, and that as a former healthcare executive, he could see the value and applicability of the app.

“Care transitions and handovers are critical, and this app fills a real need.”
MHA instructor and health systems consultant Duncan Campbell

He could see aspects of MHA concept in the development and presentation of CareCrew, and was thrilled at the hackathon win. “It is so rewarding to see one of your students step up to a big challenge.”

The app’s design has also been informed by more than 100 interviews with patients, family members, and care organizations, as well as by the CareCrew team’s involvement in the entrepreneurship@UBC Lean Launch Pad accelerator program from October to December last year. The Fraser Health Hackathon is also not the only award the team has won – they picked up the People’s Choice Award in the Hacking Health Design Challenge in June 2016.

entrepreneurship@UBC managing director Barry Yates said the organization saw UBC students and researchers turn ideas into impactful ventures, and the organization was excited to see what was in store for the CareCrew team.

“They are solving a real problem that the province needs to address right now.”
entrepreneurship@UBC managing director Barry Yates

The eventual aim is to have a publicly available app priced according to pilot feedback, with a projected finish date for a prototype in December, Miss Chiu said, although “we can do it faster if we have investors.”

As well as the prize of a dinner with Fraser Health ceo Michael Marchbank, the team is in the running for a spot in Fraser Health Authority and the Innovation Boulevard Health Tech Innovation Foundation’s incubator program. This up to 20 week program would see CareCrew co-develop the app with the Health Authority’s subject matter experts before presenting to the executive team.

Pictured from left: Tony Mayer, Fraser Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Victoria Lee, design team member Ann Lin, Mary Lou Hardy, Christina Chiu, CareCrew development lead Danny Nip, and Fraser Health Planning, Informatics and Analytics VP Philip Barker.
Credit: Fraser Health

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