Hack Your Heart Out: A Hackathon for Health

Posted by Adam Cricchio from Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide — North America on August 17, 2017

In the spirit of being proactive in meeting our client’s needs, last week, a bunch of folks from our engineering (development/strategy), creative and digital engagement teams got together and participated in a “Hackathon for Health” at our Parsippany headquarters. This was the first in a recent series of hackathons at OCHWW designed to encourage innovative thinking, foster new ways for teams to work together and ideate solving client problems. Overall, the teams had a lot of fun and were surprised to see how much could be accomplished in a shortened timeframe.

What did they do?
Specifically, this hackathon was focused on creative ideation and rapid follow-through. We organized folks into four multidisciplinary teams and asked them choose a business problem to solve from a pre-determined list.


Over the course of a 2-day period, the teams identified customer needs, brainstormed ideas and developed presentations to demo their MVP (minimal-viable-product) solutions to an audience of non-participants (e.g., employees). There was a vote at the end of the presentations to choose the most compelling solution.

Who won the hackathon?

Everyone who participated did an incredible job, particularly given the complexity of the challenges before them and the tight time frame given to find solutions. After a very close race, Team 3 ended up the winner. The winning team developed a very smart idea for an app that focused on providing help to seniors in need of healthcare. The resulting user experience brought together features like telemedicine and AI to provide solutions from diagnosis to setting up appointments with physicians and getting transportation to the doctor’s office. 

What do we do with the work?

First, the intent is for the ideas created during the hackathon to ideally be used in our day-to-day client solutions. Additionally, we encourage each of the participants to put their learnings and experiences to use, sharing them with their respective brand teams and fostering even greater out-of-the-box thinking. 

What did we learn?

  1. 1. Working as a team to solve business problems from a customer-centric perspective is liberating
  3. 2. When 100% focused, teams can get a lot done in one day
  5. 3. Being able to effectively “sell” your idea is as important as the idea itself
  7. 4. Cross-discipline teams working together is a powerful force
  9. 5. Being able to develop an MVP (minimal viable product) is a difficult – but necessary step in the design process
  11. 6. Prototyping and/or demonstrating how ideas work fosters a deeper understanding of the issues at hand and helps teams collaborate towards an effective solution

What’s next?

The teams will be getting together to do a post-mortem to work out the kinks and make the next hackathon even better. The ultimate goal is to have even more employees participate so every team member can develop and hone their cross-discipline collaborative skills while focusing entirely on the challenge at hand. In a perfect world, future hackathons will also include OCHWW clients, and other events will be significantly more tech-focused with an eye toward the development of actual prototypes for potential client use.



Congrats to Team 3 as well as to all the other teams for inspiring work and participating in the hackathon. Here’s to hackathon-ing!