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

Waqaas Akmal Butt, Qurratulain Shahood, Walid Hussain Farooqi, Kulsoom Ghias, Saniya Sabzwari, Asad Mian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-108
Number of pages6
JournalBMJ Innovations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • assistive technology
  • economics
  • inventions


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