Massachusetts General Hospital and GE Are Hosting an Opioid Hackathon

Multidisciplinary teams will try to crack the code of addiction.

Mass General

Photo by Samantha Carey

Hackers this weekend will be tasked with developing new, outside-the-box technologies and solutions for improving opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Massachusetts General Hospital and GE Foundation are co-hosting the opioid hackathon, which will bring together clinicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, designers, students, and other hackers at District Hall. The cohort will attempt to find fresh new strategies for addressing opioid addiction, a high-priority issue both in the Commonwealth and nationwide.

“At its core, Mass General Hospital seeks to improve patient care, teaching and medical innovation,” Kristian Olson, clinician educator in Mass General’s Department of Medicine and medical director of its Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies, said in a statement. “We seek to make sustainable improvements to some of the toughest health problems in the communities we work with, and the crisis posed by opiate addiction demands that we work collaboratively to innovate solutions for this epidemic.”

Friday, the first day of the hackathon, will be spent explaining the problem and diagnosing unmet needs. On the second, cross-disciplinary teams will try to find solutions. Teams will present their innovations on Sunday, and the five most promising will be awarded monetary prizes.

Speakers include Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Governor Charlie Baker, and former NBA and Boston College basketball player Chris Herren, who will tell the personal story of addiction and recovery that led him to found the Herren Project.

Stakes are high for the hackathon: In 2015, Massachusetts recorded 1,379 deaths—an average of nearly four per day—that could be traced back to a heroin overdose or misuse of prescription opioids. Nationwide, the U.S. Surgeon General has said, someone dies of an opioid overdose every 24 minutes.

“We had success finding new and different solutions at similar events throughout the country on topics such as Zika and safe surgery,” David Barash, executive director of global health programs at GE Foundation, said in the statement. “We expect to do the same here.”

For more information about the hackathon, visit