- The GE Foundation, along with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the City of Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, held a "hack-a-thon" to bring a variety of experts together to brainstorm solutions to the city's opioid epidemic.
- The company's sponsorship of the effort came as part of a five-year, $50 million philanthropic commitment it made to the Boston community to complement its move to the city this summer.
- The event resulted in five of 19 teams being awarded $1,000 each and selected to further develop their concepts over the next three months, after which a winner will be selected for a $10,000 grand prize and receive support from MGH’s CAMTech Innovation Platform.
The effort is urgent, the GE Foundation said, because the issues around opioid addiction have grown to epic proportions in Massachusetts and the U.S. overall. The state's Department of Public Health reported 1,379 Massachusetts deaths in 2015 from heroin and opioid-based painkillers, equal to almost four people per day.
Nationwide, about 78 people per day die from an opioid overdose, according to the CDC, noting that equals a 200% increase since 2010.
Recent insurance data also pointed toward a growing magnitude of the issue, indicating claims for medical services or procedures related to a diagnosis of opioid dependence increased 3,203% from 2007 to 2014.
While numerous federal and private efforts have been launched, including prevention grants and new treatment technology, GE's hack-a-thon aims to serve Boston specifically with tailored technologies and other solutions.
The pitches selected for further development are:
- A text message notification system to remind patients to dispose of expired medications.
- A system of community responders to make naloxone quickly available as needed.
- A text message-based system to provide access to relevant resources and information.
- A mobile van to provide “on-demand” treatments.
- A meeting and activity location to support those in recovery.