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Hack Aotearoa 2023 – mahitahi in action

Often, the most effective way to solve a problem is by calling on people with a wide range of expertise and perspectives to work together. This is the approach that will be employed at Hack Aotearoa, returning in 2023 for the first time in three years.

After successful events in 2019 and 2020, Hack Aotearoa 2023 will take place in Auckland from 17-19 March 2023, beginning with a one-day conference followed by a two-day datathon held at Waipapa Taumata Rau, The University of Auckland.

Hack Aotearoa will cover topics spanning Aotearoa New Zealand’s health reforms and innovations in models of care through digital health, through to Māori data and digital innovation and Pacific data insights.

Attendees will then be given a chance to put what they’ve learned into practice, taking part in the datathon event – part of a network of MIT Critical Data Datathons held internationally – where they’ll work with others to analyse data and potentially unlock solutions to health problems.

 

Mahitahi

According to Dr Mataroria Lyndon (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Whatua, Ngāti Wai, Waikato), Hack Aotearoa’s co-convenor, the event’s purpose is “bringing different people together, based on the theme of partnerships and collaboration – mahitahi.”

Health professionals can’t solve our health problems in Aotearoa alone, Dr Lyndon continues. “We need different groups of people: technologists, entrepreneurs, data scientists – bring them all together to learn, and problem solve together through collaboration.”

“A datathon is where you bring people together around some particular clinical questions or challenges that you’re wanting to address in your user data set, and [putting together] a team to analyse [data] with support from mentors, before presenting back the findings.”

“Some datathons are focused on how many products and solutions can be developed, but Hack Aotearoa is more about learning together. People [from different backgrounds] can learn what a data scientist does, and what an engineer does, and about the different health professions.”

“Health professionals have subject matter expertise around health, but may not have the technical skills to use data. Bringing these different people together to problem solve and learn, and understand each other’s fields, is the real purpose of Hack Aotearoa.”

 

The genesis of Hack Aotearoa

Dr Lyndon is a clinical director and co-founder of Tend Health, a primary care provider offering online care through their Tend app and in-person care in their medical centres. He’s also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, and a board member of the Māori Health Authority – Te Aka Whai Ora, with a particular interest in Māori health and equity.

After attending the University of Auckland Medical School, Dr Lyndon was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard to complete a Masters of Public Health, and a practicum at MIT.

During this time, Dr Lyndon took part in MIT Critical Data datathons, which showed him the power of data and digital, and got him thinking: “Why can’t we have our own at home? By Kiwis for Kiwis here, in Aotearoa.”

“We’ve got healthy inequities within Aotearoa, especially for Māori and Pacific communities. What are some of the new ways we can tackle these inequities? That, I think, is partly through digital health, online digital technologies, and also through data science.”

“What is it that we can learn from our data sets in terms of new ways of analysis, new ways of getting insights and applying it within health, and in particular, to improve equity in Aotearoa?”

“I try to bring the threads together of my work: medicine, interest in public health, academia, and then bringing it together, in terms of Māori health equity and using data and digital as a means to improve health here.”

 

Hack Aotearoa 2023

The threads of Dr Lyndon’s work, and that of his co-organisers, have been woven together to create Hack Aotearoa, held in partnership with MIT Critical Data and hosted by the Faculty of Medical Health Science at Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland, and the Division of Health Sciences at the University of Otago. Dr Xaviour Walker, Associate Dean Pacific at the Division of Health Sciences at Otago University is also a convenor.

The conference day will feature international and local experts from across healthcare and data science speaking to the opportunities in data science, digital health, and AI for healthcare to improve health outcomes and equity.

These include Dr Leo Celi, Principal Research Scientist at MIT’s Laboratory of Computational Physiology (LCP) and American cardiologist, scientist, and author Professor Eric Topol who will discuss the implications of ChatGPT/large language models for healthcare.

Local experts including Dr Shane Reti (National Party Spokesperson for Health and Harkness Fellow to Harvard University) and Fepulea’I Margie Apa (CEO Te Whatu Ora Health NZ, and Riana Manual (CEO Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Health Authority) are also confirmed to speak.

Dr Lyndon says: “Some of the common areas [our experts cover] include AI for medicine – sharing specific examples of how AI is helping with clinical decision making in healthcare, and bias in data or medical technologies, in particular for ethnic groups. We’ll also showcase Māori and Pacific data and digital innovation.”

The Hack Aotearoa 2023 datathon will focus on publicly available, aggregated and de-identified data sets to explore the health inequities and epidemiology of COVID-19, and MIT’s well-established MIMIC critical care dataset, “to attract different groups of interests,” says Dr Lyndon.

“We want to encourage collaboration between groups, including the tertiary institutions [that are part of] the event, international experts and local experts. The networking opportunities are really important.

“I’m not sure exactly of the insights we’ll find from the data sets [we’re using], but that’s part of what the datathon is. You bring people together, with support from mentors, and try to tackle some of these questions using data science.

“We want to bring people together, to learn, collaborate and understand together. These events lead to new knowledge, learning and insights. Hopefully we’ll be publishing some of the findings from the datathon, which has happened at previous events as well.”

Hack Aotearoa is supported by Precision Driven Health. To register, or for more information, visit www.hackaotearoa.nz