MSSR-IPPNW holds Synapse 2018: A Health Hackathon

By Kat Bolanos (Class 2022) and Jom Kimpo (Class 2023)



UP Medical Students for Social Responsibility-IPPNW Philippines (MSSR-IPPNW), in partnership with HealthHacks PH, held Synapse last October 27-28, 2018 in The Globe Tower in Bonifacio Global City.

Synapse is the first health hackathon organized by a medical school organization. This competition was organized with the goal of developing modern, realistic, and innovative solutions to health problems that plague the nation’s communities.


The event was opened to senior high school students from different tracks (STEM, ABM, HUMSS, GAS), and college students from different fields (health sciences, computer science, business, engineering, arts) to promote innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration.

The participants were grouped into teams of 4 or 5 with each member having a specific role or area of expertise. These were the Hustler (business, marketing, presentation), Hipster (design), Hacker (technology and engineering), and Health Hunk (research, conceptual framework).

In line with its theme of “Hacking Health in the Community,“ day one of the hackathon featured context-setting talks and workshops from resource speakers prominent in the fields of health information, technology, and design, such as Dr Noel Juban, Mr. Jake Josol, Dr. Portia Fernandes-Marcelo, Dr. Raymond Sarmiento, and Mr. Herl Ramos. Topics included the current Philippine healthcare situation, the role of social innovations in health, fundamentals of healthcare informatics and telehealth, and design thinking.  Later in the day, participants were given time to consult with mentors invited by the organizers, and work on their outputs and presentations. The venue offered different rooms for the participants to hold meetings, take naps, engage in recreational activities, and practice their pitches during their overnight stay.


Participants listen attentively to the talks and workshops in preparation for the pitches.


Day 2 of the event picked up from where the participants left off the previous night. The morning of October 28 was dedicated for finalizing their respective pitches within their groups. The program promptly kicked off at 1pm. Each group presented their brainstormed solutions to various local health problems. Common issues such as poor vaccination coverage, inefficient referral systems, and lack of PWD-accessible areas were met with solutions ranging from PUSH notification systems, text alerts, apps, and cross-platform programs.


The Beta Hackers team pitches their health hack to the audience.


At the event’s conclusion, it was the group Ingrown which took home the gold, and the corresponding P6000 cash prize. The team’s members included Cyan Erick Pascual (Hacker), Lea Monica Dizon (Hacker), Lance Cheng (Hustler), Justin Balderas (Hipster, Hustler), and Caesar Altajeros III (Hustler) . Their proposal for Vivac: the Vaccine App was what ultimately won the judges over. The app aims to create a sign-up database system for parents at the barangay level in order for health officials to track the coverage in their respective units. Vivac sends automated alerts to parents about due dates for vaccination and also includes a feature for informational videos about immunization.

The runner-ups of the event were ForecastRx by the Beta Hackers (1st runner up) and Lingapp by Tocilog (2nd runner up). ForecastRx is a machine-learning application that sends SMS alerts based on health information input while Lingapp is an app for health professionals that focuses on women’s healthcare. The runner-ups received P4000 and P2000 respectively.


“We genuinely wanted to see innovation in the healthcare field,” says MSSR-IPPNW Health Commissioner Pamela Pasco. “It’s something foreign yet fresh for UPCM students.”



Photos courtesy of the UP MSSR

Leave a Reply