- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder - PTSD - have some new allies. Organized in conjunction with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, a motivated group of computer geeks and software developers are devoting 36 hours to “Hacking PTSD: A hackathon for healing” to seek solutions for vets who must manage flashbacks, insomnia and the other challenges of the condition.

Armed with their laptops, flashdrives and imaginations, corporate developers as well as university computer science students will gather in the 12,000 square foot gymnasium at a northern Virginia college on Friday night, determined to use technology to change health care.

“What kind of mobile app could you build?” the organizers say in their challenge to the participants. Among the possibilities that could surface in the event, which ends Sunday morning: Earlier detection of emerging PTSD symptoms, improving access to therapy and personalized patient guidance, tracking substance abuse, issuing practical alerts and reminders plus amplifying social support networks.

“The spirit of this hackathon is not to produce a specific solution, but to leverage an ecosystem of innovators,” said Yan Chow, chief innovation officer for Longview International Technology, the federal IT contractor which has organized the event.

“The hackathon will harness the ideas and creativity from a larger community of developers and innovators outside the federal commercial process. Sometimes bringing in fresh eyes and ideas creates an atmosphere for creativity to persevere in finding new ways to combat PTSD and improve its management,” said Dr. Hon Pak, chief medical officer for the company, which is also providing access to computer hardware and software to the geeks themselves.



“Developers will have access to the tools and a set of open VA systems that have not been easily available to the public,” Dr. Pak added. “Our veterans deserve the best. Hopefully by gathering the best and brightest young minds at our hackathon, we will be one step closer to developing real-time solutions and relief to the millions who suffer from this debilitating condition.”

Nine corporate sponsors for the event include IBM, PWC and Red Hat; the hackathon will be staged on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College. Meals, showers and sleeping areas are part of the package, along with recognition. Find the event here

“Whether you’re a programmer, designer, or clinical science student, your creativity, curiosity, and passion are what’s most important. Some organizations may send teams as well, although they will be eligible only for recognition. Cash prizes will be reserved for student teams,” the organizers advise participants.

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