Few occupations are as essential to a country’s people as is nursing. Yet the nursing sector has seen very little innovation over the years, even as medical technology in hospitals steadily evolves.

Looking to bring nursing into the 21st century, AfriNurse in collaboration with AfroCentric Group, The Innovation Hub and mLab hosted its first hackathon event at The Innovation Hub’s Conference Venue in Lynwood, Tshwane on 17 June 2022, in which it challenged nine groups totalling 70 participants to develop innovative, game-changing ideas for modernising the industry.

Grouped nurses and student developers in their brainstorming session

In each group, nurses from the Tembisa Tertiary Hospital and Louis Pasteur Private Hospital teamed up with student developers from mLab Southern Africa to discuss some of the most pressing challenges currently facing nurses, explore possible solutions, and develop an actionable digital programme for overcoming the issue.

“We didn’t give the nurses any specific assignment. Instead, we asked them to consider the many conveniences that technology provides them within their lives outside of work, and then asked how that same technology could be used to improve their jobs,” says AfriNurse founder Sylvester Msuthwana.

Sylvester Msuthwana, founder of Afrinurse

“The nurses present identified several issues that people outside the industry would not have thought of, and the student developers, in turn, were inspired to develop new ideas and to show them how these ideas could be implemented to their advantage.”

The eight members of the Group 7 HealthTech team hit gold with their idea to digitise the crucial knowledge that nurses need and use every day.

Nursing is a highly knowledge-intensive endeavour, with a wide range of exacting procedures tailored to each situation. Each type of ward follows very different procedures; getting these wrong can have dire consequences.

But nurses are increasingly being called to assist in different wards, for example owing to staff shortages. It then falls on these nurses to quickly familiarise themselves with the different procedures used in these different wards and get back up to speed, placing enormous pressure on the individuals assigned.

HealthTech, therefore, proposed an online space where standardised information on nursing can be digitised in the form of easy-to-understand text posts or tutorial videos created by industry professionals, which nurses can access at any point of the day.

“Much like watching a quick YouTube video tutorial, you learn better when using more than one of your senses,” notes Msuthwana.

“The possibility also exists to employ augmented reality within this programme to train nurses on new and old procedures. Imagine using virtual reality glasses to train nurses in operating complex pieces of hospital equipment without having to withdraw this equipment from hospital use for that period.”

The winning team’s online tutorial concept will commence its developmental journey in October once the mLab students have concluded their studies and begun their three-month internship with AfriNurse.

The company hopes to have a working pilot programme ready for testing at the Tembisa Tertiary and Louis Pasteur Private Hospitals by January 2023, with the goal of launching on a wide scale later that year.

As an alumnus of The Innovation Hub’s Maxum Smart Business Incubation programme, the hackathon supported AfriNurse’s goal is to bring nursing and technology together to improve the nursing industry as a whole, and to provide the same access to standardised knowledge to nurses in cities and rural hospitals or clinics.

AfriNurse partnered with AfroCentric, which provided the funding for the day, while The Innovation Hub oversaw the event’s administration and marketing.

For more information go to: https://it-online.co.za/2022/06/24/afrinurse-hackathon-finds-solutions-to-nursing-challenges/