If you’re seeking digital solutions for an important cause that has many moving parts, sponsoring a hackathon sounds like a productive approach. That’s what led The Innovation Studio at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to sponsor the inaugural Gamifying Pediatrics Hackathon in mid-April. During a 48-hour period, 185 participants pitched 47 ideas and formed 22 teams to create prototypes. The participants included physicians, nurses, engineers, developers, and experts in gaming, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality(AR).

The Hackathon’s purpose was to foster the creation of new digital health tools and experiences for pediatric patients and providers. The April event was a compressed development stage. Ten teams selected as semi-finalists have moved on to the next stage — the incubator phase — during which they will receive free mentoring for six months while they develop prototypes. CHLA Demo Day will be held in October, when the ten teams will present their prototypes. Up to three teams will be declared finalists and will be awarded up to $15,000 in seed money grants. They will also have an opportunity to pilot their digital products at CHLA.

The semi-finalists from the Hackathon include gamified diabetes education using VR, an AI-powered and voice-enabled therapy robot, a VR simulation tool for emergency department providers, an in-home biofeedback game, a VR app that creates a virtual view of a patient’s heart from MRI data, and a music-based game to remotely identify and train cognitive skills.

Bringing diverse experts together for a short-term, meaningful challenge that offers intellectual competition and a real-world chance to develop a tool that could make a significant positive difference is an innovative method of coalescing individual skills to jumpstart important work.