Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original research
Healthcare hackathons: fostering medical education through innovation in a developing country: a case study from Pakistan
  1. Waqaas Akmal Butt1,
  2. Qurratulain Shahood2,
  3. Walid Hussain Farooqi1,
  4. Kulsoom Ghias3,
  5. Saniya Sabzwari4,
  6. Asad Mian1,5
  1. 1 Critical Creative Innovative Thinking Forum, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
  2. 2 Medical School Graduate, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
  3. 3 Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
  4. 4 Department of Family Medicine, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
  5. 5 Emergency Medicine, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Asad Mian, Emergency Medicine, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan; asad.mian{at}


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.

  • assistive technology
  • inventions
  • economics

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors WAB has written the discussion and formatted the article for this journal. He has also incorporated all changes from the review. WHF provided references and wrote parts of the methodology section. KG and SS both designed and executed the interventions mentioned in the research paper. QS compiled the results and wrote the results section. AM is the principle Investigator and has supervised the composition and progression of this paper across all stages.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from the Aga Khan University’s Ethical Review Committee (ERC #9532389) prior to starting of the study. Consent for participation in the hackathon and subsequent incubation programme was obtained via signed written document.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.