Healthcare hackathons: Fostering medical education through innovation in a developing country: A case study from Pakistan

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Emergency Medicine; Family Medicine


Background: Hackathons aim to develop solutions to preidentified problem domains and catalyse startup cultures. Recently, the teaching and learning potential of hackathons has also been documented. In this study, we make the case for utilisation of hackathons as an alternative teaching and learning tool geared towards entrepreneurship and as an opportunity for interprofessional integration.
Methods: This research study followed up with participants from the third hackathon at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan. Hack MedEd was about solutions to problems of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education with an emphasis on low-income to middle-income countries. Participant evaluation data were filled at the end of the hackathon and gathered from three focused group discussions (FGDs): immediately before and after the event, a delayed follow-up after 11 months was recorded.
Results: Of 116 participants, the majority (71%) were under 30 years old, and over half were female. The evaluations provided by hackers were positive overall with a mean score of 4.37 out of 5 on a Likert Scale. During the FGDs, participants spoke positively of the process and felt that, by the end of the hackathon, they had learnt something new. In the delayed follow-up FGD, teams that had undergone incubation expressed that they had gained a critical and simple skillset that they might not have acquired otherwise.
Conclusion: Hackathons business incubation programmes may be considered an alternative teaching and learning tool—especially for individuals studying or working within the healthcare discipline within low-resource settings.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Innovations