Daily Herald, Amita seeking college students for health care design challenge

Updated 9/14/2016 5:50 PM

The Daily Herald is teaming up with Amita Health and college students from across the Chicago area for an all-night brainstorming session to come up with innovative ideas for aging well.

The Amita Health Center for Innovation is inviting 16 teams of college students to participate in a two-day health care design challenge similar to a hack-a-thon, where they will come with digital and nondigital solutions for our nation's aging population, their caregivers, doctors and the businesses that interact with them.


"We're very excited to see what kind of great ideas the younger generation can come up with," said Jeff Oberlin, director of Amita's Center for Innovation.

The event, scheduled for Oct. 15 and 16 at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, will include students from DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Amita Health is inviting physicians, residents of long-term-care facilities, and representatives of those facilities, civic organizations that support the elderly, and other providers of elderly services to participate in panels at the event. Students will interview and propose ideas to those panels during the first 24 hours of the event to help refine their ideas.

"The core of the innovation process is empathy for -- and understanding -- of the people who will be using a product or service. You have to reach out and interact with them, and that's what we will be doing," Oberlin said.

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The second day of the event will be open to the public as a kind of science fair for people to explore different solutions and give feedback.

Four teams of finalists will pitch their solutions to a team of judges. The first place team will also take home $2,000, second place will win $1,500 and third will win $1,000. Amita is committed to taking at least one of the projects and implementing it with the student team.

Amita also will make sure that those staying up all night to come up with ideas will stay healthy while they do it -- including making time for yoga and healthy snacks.

"We're trying to walk the talk in the event itself," Oberlin said.

The event will present opportunities for Amita to hear new ideas from different groups of people, and could offer a host of possibilities for the students involves as well.

"What could also arise ... is that they may actually come up with an idea that attracts the interest of Amita or some other audience member. Who knows? It's a long shot, but it could actually turn into the seeds of a viable venture," Marty Martin, an associate professor and director of the health sector management program at DePaul, sand in a news release.

He said students will experience working on a real-world challenge and make connections with industry professionals that could lead to internships or jobs.

College students interested in participating can register at amitadesignchallenge.com/.

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