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Hackathon: Social innovation to improve patient experience at Hospital La Paz

Hackathon: Social innovation to improve patient experience at Hospital La Paz
IE Business School students win first place in social impact challenge with Hospital La Paz.

In this year's edition of the Social Impact Challenge Hackathon organised by the IE Honours Program, the winning team came up with a project that combines scalable technology and social innovation to improve the patient-hospital relationship and the patient experience at Madrid’s Hospital la Paz.

The challenge that the public hospital brought to the students was to find innovative solutions to develop better communication between the three key stakeholders of the hospital: patients, their families and NGOs that support them.

One of Spain’s leading hospitals, La Paz is undergoing a comprehensive renovation and the winning idea will be implemented in the hospital's reformation plans for 2022.

A range of communication issues were outlined by the hospital as causes for concern.

“With Covid-19, visitors could not come to the hospital and so especially elderly people were feeling lonely because of this.”
Leonhard Friedrich, Data and Business Analytics student

“Also, many NGOs that were trying to help patients– such as support for those with oncological diseases or for others that had to stay at the hospital for extended periods– but programs that they offered were not communicated to all the patients very well.”

The team came up with the idea of implementing a radio channel to strengthen communication and connect all three stakeholders. 

“Our team,, created a project which consisted in using existing hospital technology - mainly the TVs inside the rooms- to create a radio channel for patients. Through this service, organisations and family members would be able to communicate with patients to spread information about hospital events and bring families closer to patients,” BBA-BIR student Luis Benatuil explained.

“The idea was that NGOs could host podcasts explaining what they did and how to reach them,” Friedrich said. “Family members could send audio messages to be shared and patients could share their stories if they were staying longer at the hospital. Patients with mobile devices could chat with others in the hospital and engage with the content, and so on.” 

“We wanted to create an interactive hospital radio channel that fostered a sense of connection between all the stakeholders. is a bridge between space and interpersonal connection in one tune.”
Penelope Pirano Bachelor of Communication and Digital Media student

Students from any IE University bachelor’s program who rank in the top 5% of their class can be invited to become part of the IE Honours Program, which fosters academic vigor and professional prospects through events, presentations and more.

Last year, the IE Honours program launched a special challenge for members that is now an annual tradition. It’s a chance for high-performing students to put their academic learnings into practice and make a positive impact on the world around them.

The 2021 edition centered around business innovation: a collaboration between IE University and Amazon Alexa. Students had to come up with different ways in which voice technology like Amazon Alexa could help improve education at the new IE Tower. Over the course of three weeks, teams worked under expert guidance to prepare their pitches in front of a panel of judges.

Through the duration of this year’s challenge, students had the chance to listen to insights from the hospital staff to understand patient needs and guide their projects.

“It was very complicated at first to work on this challenge without being a doctor or without having any idea about the functioning of a hospital and the patient experience,” said Philosophy, Politics, Law and Economics undergrad student Carla Ortega. “Our conversations with people from La Paz were extremely useful to correctly frame our idea and make sure it was feasible and appealing for a hospital.”

The team was looking for a solution that would be cheap and easy to implement with the resources the hospital already has.

“While La Paz is one of the leading hospitals in Spain, we are still dealing with a public hospital with little financial resources for a project of this kind. We tried to find the most simple, cost-effective solution, meaning we looked at what could be implemented with the already existing infrastructure,” said Friedrich.

The group also wanted to make a platform that was suitable for different age groups but especially for elder patients.

“We wanted to put patients first and since most of the patients at the hospital have an age of 65 or above, we needed to implement a solution that would be user-friendly to this group of patients.”
Luis Benatuil, BBA-BIR student

“We wanted to put patients first and since most of the patients at the hospital have an age of 65 or above, we needed to implement a solution that would be user-friendly to this group of patients,” said Benatuil, who pointed out the hospital already had problems implementing video conferencing due to the lack of technological abilities of this group in particular. 

Team member Pirano said radio and podcasts’ popularity made them an easy and effective solution for people of different age groups.

“Not only elderly people would be entertained. The radio channel can have different types of content like bedtime stories or walks targeted to young adults and teenagers,” she said.

The groups that participated in the challenge presented their ideas to a panel of judges from the hospital in a preliminary round. The judges then selected the top three teams for the final. During the final presentations, the team presented in front of the entire honours program alongside the judges.

The team members applauded the opportunity to help those going through a tough time in the hospital.

“I had a great experience in this challenge,” Benatuil said.

“The main highlight for me was being able to work with an amazing group of students and being able to provide real solutions to patients that are going through a hard time.”
Luis Benatuil, BBA-BIR student