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Hear from the Experts: 6 NurseHack4Health Highlights to Look Forward to This May

New focus areas. An inspiring keynote speaker. Worldwide collaboration. Our upcoming NurseHack4Health is gearing up to be our most exciting and rewarding experience yet! Hear from NurseHack4Health organizers and participants on what they are most looking forward to at our next virtual hackathon.

Johnson & Johnson, SONSIEL (Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders), Microsoft and dev up are excited to host our third virtual hackathon, NurseHack4Health: Improving Access to Care, from May 14 to 16, 2021. The NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon series began in May 2020 as a way to convene nurses and other healthcare workers on the front lines of COVID-19 and pair them with engineers and software developers to help power up their ideas to improve healthcare and strengthen innovation skills.

Now almost a year later, the NurseHack4Health community remains ready and eager to solve the ever-evolving challenges presented by COVID-19, now specifically the need for better quality, sustainable and equitable access to healthcare. The Johnson & Johnson Notes on Nursing team recently spoke to several NurseHack4Health organizers and participants who shared the six highlights they are most excited for at this May’s hackathon.

1. Developing solutions that can improve vaccine delivery, address health inequities and more

Months into the vaccine distribution rollout in the United States, many underserved populations, including Black and African American communities, are still receiving COVID-19 vaccines at dramatically lower rates compared to white Americans. Recent research has found that this may be due to the locations of vaccination sites or a lack of access to technology,[1] but nurses may have unique insights into how healthcare access can be improved, not just with regard to vaccine delivery, but to overall health inequities and models of care as well.

At NurseHack4Health: Improving Access to Care, participants from around the world will combine their problem-solving skills, insights and expertise to develop solutions for the following focus areas: Vaccine Education & Delivery; Medical Deserts; Health Equity, Racial Disparities & Inclusion; New Models and Settings for Care; and an Open Topic, for a solution that can help improve access to care in an area that isn’t represented in one of the other focus areas. Hackers will have the opportunity to either create or join a team that will work on turning their ideas into a minimally viable product (MVP)—a solution that can be fast-tracked for greater impact in a healthcare setting.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the extent of many inefficiencies and disparities prevalent throughout health systems worldwide—many of which have dramatically affected health outcomes for minority communities even before this current health crisis,” said Zenobia Harris, DNP, MPH, RNP, President of the Association of Public Health Nurses (APHN) and NurseHack4Health Panelist. “I’m excited to see the many creative, ingenious and thoughtful solutions aimed at addressing these challenges that come out of this event—because we know that today’s patients and communities need them ‘yesterday.’”

2. Being immersed in a rare nurse-centric innovation opportunity

For just one weekend, practicing nurses, nursing students and retired nurses will share a screen with some of the largest names in nurse innovation and entrepreneurship, Chief Nursing Officers from several of America’s largest health systems, leaders from many of the top nursing organizations and educators from academic institutions leading in nurse innovation. NurseHack4Health provides a rare opportunity to collaborate with and learn from these distinguished nurses, as well as other healthcare professionals, engineers, designers, tech enthusiasts, scientists and public health leaders passionate about improving healthcare access and delivery.

“What is so unique about nurse hackathons is that they provide a space for nurses to further develop their DIY solutions,” said Anthony Scarpone-Lambert, BSN/PhD nursing student at the University of Pennsylvania and Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lumify Care, a nurse hackathon success story. “Fellow nurses can provide a great sounding board for your ideas, so if you’re having any doubts about participating in a nurse hackathon, just do it. It enables you to learn more about innovation and it’s a fun experience that can empower you to realize the innate innovative ability you have as a nurse.”

3. Hearing about healthcare insights from keynote speaker Rear Admiral Aisha Mix

We’re excited that the NurseHack4Health hackathon will kick off on Friday evening with inspiring words from Rear Admiral (RADM) Aisha Mix, DNP, MPH, RN, NHDP-BC, who will share insights from over 25 years’ experience as a clinician, public health practitioner, educator and emergency manager. RADM Mix currently serves as the Chief Nurse Officer for the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps. In this capacity, RADM Mix advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Surgeon General on the recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention and career development of nurse professionals and provides leadership to more than 4,000 active-duty nurse officers and civilian nurses.

“It is an absolute honor to have Rear Admiral Aisha Mix as our keynote speaker for this May’s NurseHack4Health,” said Rebecca Love, RN, MSN, FIEL, President of SONSIEL. “Because of her extensive career as a clinician and public health leader, Rear Admiral Mix is uniquely positioned to speak to what she believes are some of the largest pain points in the American healthcare system today and I know her words will help spark innovative thinking around how healthcare access and delivery can be more efficient and equitable.”

4. Real-time coaching and mentorship from leading experts in the field

From CNOs and public health pioneers to experienced app developers and tech consultants, we have an impressive lineup of Coaches and Panelists excited to offer real-time mentoring, tech expertise and industry insights to teams. Coaches will be on-deck throughout the weekend to help each team refine their presentation into compelling pitches and turn their concept into an MVP. At the end of the weekend, each team will also have the opportunity to pitch their solution before a group of Panelists, who have extensive experience in their focus areas and can provide helpful insights on how to move solutions forward.

“I think what really sets NurseHack4Health apart from other nurse hackathon events is the breadth and depth of participants, especially those who serve as our expert Coaches and Panelists,” said Joshua Littlejohn, MPH, MSN, RN, Head of Product at envoyatHome, SONSIEL Member and hackathon devotee. “At this upcoming NurseHack4Health especially, I’m most excited to watch some of our Coaches with health equity experience provide insights that can help take ideas to address disparities in our healthcare system to the next level.”

5. Applying for new immersive innovation experiences

New this year—any nurse who participates in NurseHack4Health: Improving Access to Care can apply for the chance to be randomly selected for a post-hackathon complimentary scholarship seat in the Drexel - SONSIEL Nurse Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. The two-day, virtual program from June 5 to 6, 2021 is designed for nurses interested in further developing their innovation and entrepreneurial skills after NurseHack4Health. In addition, following the hackathon, nurses will also be invited to submit their ideas for improving access to care in a new Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge for the opportunity to be awarded grant funding up to $100,000 and mentorship from experts across the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to help bring their solution to life.

“This is our third NurseHack4Health virtual hackathon, and I’ve seen first-hand the ground-breaking, nurse-led ideas that can come from these events. I have also seen the need, however, to help nurse innovators further develop these ideas,” said Lynda Benton, Senior Director, Corporate Equity at Johnson & Johnson. “The Drexel-SONSIEL Nurse Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate Program and our Johnson & Johnson Nurses Innovate QuickFire Challenge, focused on improving access to care, offer terrific next steps for nurses looking for opportunities to support and accelerate their idea to market.”

6. Joining a rapidly growing community of nurses just like you

Arguably one of the best parts of participating in NurseHack4Health is joining an ever-growing community of nurse leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and other accomplished individuals from around the world. The NurseHack4Health community stays engaged year-round by continuing to network, mentor and problem-solve online. Meeting your fellow Hackers and our expert Coaches and Panelists, as well as NurseHack4Health Organizers Johnson & Johnson, SONSIEL and Microsoft, can connect you with invaluable insights, innovation opportunities, resources, events, connections and more!

“I decided to participate in NurseHack4Health last November because it looked like it was going to be a think-tank of fantastic people getting together to solve some of the most complex problems in health—and it ended up being more rewarding than I imagined,” said Renee Davis, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, Principal CEO of ProDevo Design and Consulting Group. “It was such an amazing experience to collaborate on a mobile education solution that can have such an impact on healthcare globally. I loved networking and collaborating with such a global, diverse group of innovators like me, many of whom I still keep in touch with to this day!”

The above highlights are just a few of the exciting opportunities to look forward to at NurseHack4Health: Improving Access to Care!

Inspired to register? Sign up today at https://nursehack4health.org/ and invite your fellow nurses, colleagues and innovators to join us for an empowering and transformative weekend!

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[1] Samuels, A. (2021, March 09). The reason Black Americans are getting vaccinated at a much slower rate is not because they're reluctant. Retrieved April 11, 2021, from https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-fewer-black-americans-are-getting-the-covid-19-vaccine-no-its-not-hesitancy/

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