Dell Medical School offers cash prize for novel health care ideas in SXSW contest

Emma Acosta

The Dell Medical School is searching for ideas on how to improve the health care system by encouraging community members to submit their thoughts on the evolving health care system.

The medical school hopes to transform the system by involving the public in the search for new business models, new forms of community engagement and product and technology ideas by hosting a competition, #HealthHive, during South By Southwest. The contest will last from March 11 through March 13, and people can enter by sending in a short explanation of their improvement idea. The overall winner of the competition will receive $1,000.

“[Crowdsourcing projects] obviously help illuminate bright ideas, no matter where they come from,” said Clay Johnston, dean of Dell Medical School, in an email. “They also deepen this community dialogue that’s so important to us. Ultimately, we believe the best solutions for health problems will come from the broader community, and it’s our job to enable them to find success.”

Stacey Chang, executive director of the Design Institute for Health, said the U.S. spends more money than any other country on health care, but sees ineffective outcomes. He said the public can see how broken the system is by comparing the health care system to other customer service experiences. 

“It’s a terrible experience … If you just look at it as a customer experience, it’s miserable, and that tells you that the system is not really working because it’s not absorbing its customers the way it should be,” Chang said.

Johnston said members of the Dell school will participate in conversations about the health care system during South By Southwest. 

“The panels will capture a slice of these conversations, and I think they’ll be fabulous and informative,” Johnston said in an email. “There’s so much more going on than can be covered by a few people in an hour-long convention-meeting-room session. I hope the students, staff and faculty who attend the festival get a glimpse of those conversations — but I hope that everyone feels free to take part in them outside of South by Southwest.”

Anish Reddy, a biomedical engineering honors senior and president of Medical Ethics Forum, said there are more ways for students to get involved in the health conversations around campus.

“The panels and exhibitions [at South By Southwest] lead to important discussions on the main issues, which we as students need to have, as we are the next generation of health professionals that will lead the field and make the decisions,” Reddy said.