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My Colleague Feels The Ministry Of Health Is Approaching Their ‘Hackathon’ Wrongly, I Disagree

Healthcare, Health Systems, Private Hospital, Clinic, Medical Aid

Last week, we reported that the Ministry of Health & Child Care (MoHCC) was calling on businesses and individuals to come up with healthcare solutions. This is obviously a great thing but some of my colleagues were worried about the approach the ministry is taking and they felt it might not be the most effective.

So the MoHCC isn’t limiting the scope of ideas they are calling for and this was the scope of the argument. Personally, I feel the approach they’ve taken is the right one but my colleagues are not as convinced…

The Good

More solutions; everyone wins…

I think just calling for Healthcare solutions and not focusing on particular fields is great in that the Ministry will get a lot more solutions than they otherwise would have. If they had called for digital solutions to assist in Malaria only, every other company/individual who might have had a brilliant idea that doesn’t have to anything to do with the specific focus would have been left in the cold. I think for the first few calls, (if this continues to be a thing) will be a great way to just get a variety of solutions across the board. My colleagues felt that there should be a specific focus but we’ll take a look at that in a jiffy…

They learn and iterate as they go

Starting by making a less-specific call is brilliant (to me) because this leaves room for growth. Once again a specific call could have resulted in a no-show or limiting the number of entrants. Remember this event is on the 6th of December so there’s not much time to start from scratch. This call allows people to represent whatever it is they have. The one problem I do see occurring is that they may be too many entrants but that allows the ministry to actually know if there’s scope for them to actually make these pitching events specific going forward. This is the first event of this kind they are having so making it as flexible as possible allows them to learn and make changes going forward.

The Bad

So what are some of the fears expressed by my colleagues?

Is there a central focus?

The lack of a central focus is what bothered my compadre the most. The feeling he had was that a specific focus would have been better. Why? Because it would enable the ministry to directly target the biggest problems they are facing and then get a solution for them. I mean there’s pro and cons for both approaches and certainly, this one would go to straight to the core of fixing the biggest problems but once again I think there is room for patience and reiteration as time goes.

The one downside I saw with picking a specific focus –especially when this is something that is in its infancy- is that the adjudication of this new thing could go wrong and you have an unfit solution trying to fix the biggest problems in healthcare.

Is there enough time?

The Digital Healthcare Symposium (as it will be called) will be hosted over two days and one of my colleagues was not sure if that’s enough time. If the Ministry of Health is like many other government branches then I can imagine that health players have been trying but failing to get through with their ideas and there may be overwhelming interest. Whether they will be able to accommodate these people in two days or not might be an issue and on that one, I agree entirely. The good thing, however, is that the Ministry is not going anywhere and they can always have pitching days in future.

Could the lack of specialisation affect adjudication?

My colleagues also felt that the fact that the panel could be dealing with 10 different solutions that are in entirely different fields could also affect the judging process as this lack of specialisation could end up reducing what the panel can focus on in regards to each project. This holds some water but I think it’s less of an issue because even when startups are pitching their ideas at competitions such Seedstars Summit they are not necessarily given a focus issue. They just pitch what their startups do and the judges judge.

Like startups; get the ball rolling…

The gist of my story is once you get the ball rolling you figure out which things to fix and which ones are working. At the end of the day, I think either approach would have worked and honestly, I’m just glad that the ball is rolling.

Also read, Lack of funding shouldn’t be the reason why startups don’t take off

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5 thoughts on “My Colleague Feels The Ministry Of Health Is Approaching Their ‘Hackathon’ Wrongly, I Disagree

  1. Someone very close to me is a doctor and is at an advanced stage a solution the ministry might find interesting but they are not participating for a couple of reasons. For one thing the ministry doesn’t make the benefits clear. For another the implications of joint ownership are not clear

  2. I think the government call is a positive step forward that could see the innovation fraternity being challenged to come up and or produce patient-centric solutions. With my experience in the medical sector I have realised that not only does innovation assist in the effective management of patient but it also set the threshold necessary for clients to redeem their value for money.

  3. My take is, the Ministry can’t handle full blow business solutions. For those, I think you may have to look elsewhere.
    I think the Ministry wants you to come in as a donor and help them out and that works for me.

    Organization and logistics wise, MOHCC is a bit off on the way they are handling things, but throw them a bone, its their first of this kind.

    Lastly, MOHCC has its own priority list and it will use that to grade solutions as they get proposed. And I don’t think everyone will make it in, they’ll definitely screen first.

  4. Isn’t malaria controlled by frequent spraying to kill the mozzies by the councils and health workers? This was done in the old days!!! Why did it ever stop? Like most of everything!

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