MIT Hacking Racism in HEALTHCARE Challenge Hackathon - October 16-18, 2020

Let's dismantle structural racism in healthcare together to rebuild a better tomorrow for all. ​

Opening Kickoff

Track A: Public health

  • At a public level, racism is one of the major barriers to eradicating racial inequities in health outcomes. People of color are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions and infectious diseases compared to their white counterparts. Especially, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the alarming level of racial disparities in the health outcomes for people of color and minorities. In addition, these conspicuous racial disparities in healthcare fray the trust between healthcare providers and black/latino communities.

  • How can we develop interventions that dismantle the mechanisms of racism and replace such mechanisms with equitable structures, policies, practices, norms, and values so that a healthy society can be realized without racist and discriminatory policies and practices?

  • How might we create new innovative options for community support services? How can we create solutions to reduce police involvement in wellness checks and responses to calls? How can we mitigate the adverse effects of policing on the mental health in Black communities? How can we reestablish the trust between healthcare providers and black/latino communities?

  • How can we contribute to a national and global conversation regarding the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the United States? How can we provide information and education to the public on the public health impacts of structural racism and on antiracist public health interventions?

Track B: Population health and wellness

  • Lack of access to quality healthcare also disproportionately burdens communities of color. Communities consisting of people of color are more likely to live in medically underserved areas and have limited access to affordable insurance with proper coverage.

  • How can we deliver better primary care and disease management for communities of color? What are some ways that we can deliver better disease management to persons in urban and rural communities? How can we incorporate community health programs/resources in primary care practices? How do we manage and improve geographical access and transportation to healthcare services? What are some ways that we can incorporate food, nutritional or dietary needs in the treatment plan for diverse populations? How do we create reliable access to interpreter services for small/rural practices during healthcare encounters? Are they ways that we can   better access and incorporate cultural, spiritual care needs and quality of life choices earlier in the treatment plan?

Track C: Individual health and wellness

  • In the US, the morbidity rates of chronic diseases are higher for people of color than for their white counterparts. People of color have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and obesity) than white patients. Even in the 21st century, race still correlates with women’s health and child death rates. In the US, Black and American Indian and Alaska Native infants are more than twice as likely to die than white infants, Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, and American Indian and Alaska Native women are 5 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. In addition, Non-Hispanic Black women have the highest rates for 22 of 25 severe morbidity indicators used by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • How do we dismantle healthcare disease disparities for chronic disease sufferers, such as diabetics and people with cardiovascular disease? What innovative solutions can be developed for reducing black maternal mortality rates and responses to pain/complaints? How do we create equitable treatment protocols for obstetric practices? What innovative solutions can be developed to increase remote access to healthcare/virtual service and connectivity for tracking? How can we solve the inability to access technology, internet and telehealth services?

  • How do structural determinants of health and technological literacy fortify disparities in healthcare for underserved populations, and how can these determinants be addressed toward equity? COVID-19 disproportionately impacted older, complex patients with low health literacy and financial, housing, and transportation insecurities and also caused a shift to remote, virtual care. Despite extensive dedicated telemedicine training and significant time burden spent on telemedicine, training and tutorials for patients was an insufficient solution to telehealth adoption, further exacerbated with persisting socioeconomic, structural, and literacy barriers in these patient populations.

Track D: Data Bias and Clinical research & trials

  • Data driven decision making and artificial intelligence (AI) platforms have started to become prevalent in the healthcare industry to cut costs and deliver better healthcare services. However, predictive power of medical AI and data driven decision making tools plummets significantly on racial and etnhic minorities, worsening healthcare outcomes and introducing a hidden racial bias into the healthcare space. In addition, racial and ethnic minorities are not adequately represented in clinical trial cohorts and genetic studies. This stems not only because of the lack of access to clinical facilities but also from mistrust towards clinical research organizations, that began after the 1932–72 Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis in Black males.

  • How can we ensure that researchers focusing on patient-oriented studies include cohorts that are representative of racial demographics? How do we reduce variations and approaches to treatment based on stereotyped differences along the lines of race, skin color, ethnicity or inaccurate beliefs? How do we ensure that Healthcare Research and Clinical Trials are reflective of the population? How can we build equity into Machine Learning, Analytics, Algorithms and AI?

Track E: Educational and financial health

  • Financial health: As ethnic and racial minorities are disproportionately represented among people living in poverty, low socioeconomic status and exclusion from resources are linked to racial discrimination, increasing vulnerability to illness. How do we improve affordable healthcare access for ethnic and racial minorities? How can we create new ways to improve financial support and access to healthcare? How do we ensure that ethnic and racial minorities have access to high quality providers? How can we identify new ways to work with health plans, insurance companies and payer services to improve chronic disease supplies, care management and technologies? How do we allocate funding towards human services

  • Healthcare education: Racial and ethnic minorities comprise a very small proportion of the healthcare providers in the US. Not only are they poorly represented in the healthcare space, the healthcare education does not adequately cover differences in diagnosis and treatment protocols between African Americans and non African Americans. How do we remove biases used to teach and learn medicine? How do we create a more diverse and inclusive healthcare workforce? How do we improve the affordability of educational resources for racial and ethnic minorities? How do we reduce barriers to healthcare education for racial and ethnic minorities?

Track F: Social justice and policy

  • Overt and hidden discriminatory procedures, practices and policies permeate healthcare institutions, perpetuating the racial disparities of health outcomes. Dismantling racist and discriminatory policies requires concerted advocacy efforts from all key players in healthcare, especially from patients and providers.

  • How can we connect healthcare administrators to underserved minorities for patient centric policy making? How can we guarantee social justice in healthcare practice? How can we help form anti-racist allies to take a stand when they witness racism in healthcare institutions? In what ways can we create more awareness of the impacts of racism in healthcare?

Track G: Intersectionality


  • Everyone of us, complex individuals, have overlapping identities and experiences defining ourselves. Within racial and ethnic minorities, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and age play a huge role in accessing healthcare and determining the health outcomes. 

  • How do we address complex health needs of SUD, LGBTQIA+ and Transgender Health/care needs? How can we create new partnerships to address health needs of disabled or disability advocacy? How do we eliminate racial inequities related to the treatment plan and diagnosing of aging adults? Are there ways that we can create/leverage technology, data to support their ability to remain independent?

Final Awards Ceremony