New York-Presbyterian Hospital wants to enhance its patient portal and will have several teams of software developers and designers competing for $85,000 in money during the weekend of March 15-16 to get the job done.

The hospital has invited the professionals to a “Hackathon.” The first prize for a team of up to 8 professionals is $50,000 with $25,000 for second place and $10,000 for third. “This is a unique opportunity to have designers look at the functionality of the portal and ask, ‘what if?’” says Helen Kotchoubey, director of I.T. for patient engagement at the hospital.

The portal, built using Microsoft HealthVault technology, links to the hospital’s core electronic health records system as well as a variety of interfaced ancillary systems. Interested professionals received a portal wish list from New York-Presbyterian, but Kotchoubey doesn’t want to prescribe actual functionality.

She is, however, focusing in certain areas for the teams to explore. These include how to search better, what types of technology can simply life but aren’t being used in health care, how to personalize information, family and social engagement processes to improve collaboration, better accessibility and a more seamless experience.

More than 100 professionals are coming to the Hackathon with up to another 40 on a waiting list. Kotchoubey believes it is likely that some teams will be formed before the event while others will team up when they get there. She thinks the event will be an exciting opportunity for professionals who don’t normally work in the health care arena and is excited about what types of ideas they will recommend. Hospital leaders will have “a practical lens of what we can do,” she notes, but also need to keep an open mind and be ready to partially remove the practical lens.

The idea for a Web portal Hackathon came from CIO Aurelia Boyer after the hospital conducted a more informal internal Hackathon to brainstorm ways to better use its data, Kotchoubey says.

CIO Boyer is one of five judges for the Hackathon. The others are Cyrus Massoumi, CEO at ZocDoc (online physician search and appointment scheduling); Mario Schlosser, co-CEO at Oscar (NY health insurer); Brad Weinberg, founding partner at Blueprint Health (health start-up accelerator), and Scott Schwaitzberg, civic innovation specialist at Google.

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