Students at the Comon Make-a-Ton in Ghent come up with innovative healthcare solutions

What if patients and doctors don't understand each other well? During the Comon Make-a-Ton held in February 2022, 45 students from various disciplines set out to devise innovative solutions to answer this question. Under the watchful eye of 38 experienced experts, they dived into the wondrous world of design thinking, fast prototyping and elevator pitching. The result? Nine cool innovative solutions with a dash of technology.

Comon?

Comon is a collective of scientists, technologists and creatives from the City of Ghent, imec, Ghent University and De Krook Library. Comon wants to make Ghent an (even) better, nicer and cooler city, with science and technology as part of the solution. How? By coming up with solutions for societal challenges in Ghent, together with citizens of Ghent and experts. This year we chose the challenge "How can we make health care more understandable for all inhabitants of Ghent?"

Why understandable healthcare?

Good communication between healthcare provider and patient is very important. Miscommunication around care and health issues is at the root of a lot of problems. A patient who does not show up for a consultation, for example, or someone who takes medication incorrectly. Such miscommunications can have many different causes: language and cultural barriers, for example, but also varying levels of health literacy, or patient stress, can cause a lot of misunderstandings.

Make-a-ton?

Blood, sweat and tears but above all lots of 'eureka's' and happy faces. For an entire week, 45 students from various disciplines and HEIs (UGent, HOGent, Artevelde, LUCA) worked on the future of health in Ghent. During trips to organizations such as In-Gent, HomeLab, Local Service Center Wibier and Clinicoders, they immersed themselves in the world of understandable care and health care technology. Next, they participated in workshops about design thinking, prototyping and elevator pitching. Throughout the innovation process, they had access to feedback and coaching from experts in health care and care technology. This way, De Krook became a hotbed of creatives, scientists and technologists for a week.

The prototypes

The students designed a total of nine innovative prototypes. The end results were very diverse: one group came up with a smart pillbox that uses an app to keep an eye on whether you forget to take your pills and warns you about it. Another group developed a simple device with a button that you can press when you are in pain. The next time you visit the doctor, he or she can easily see in a graph how often and when you were in pain.

What to do next?

In the next phase, Comon wants to further develop the prototypes of the Make-a-ton, in cooperation with Ghent Living Labs. The intention is to develop, test and implement a number of the prototypes. To this end, Comon wants to bring together companies, research institutions, organisations, etc. in 'Microlabs'. Interested? You can always find the latest information on www.comon.gent.

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