EHP5 Hackathon: young professionals bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to advance health policy in Europe

EHP5 Hackathon: young professionals bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to advance health policy in Europe

Mental Health and Healthy workforce, Interconnected care and Sustainable and Healthy Lifestyles Committees win awards for their innovative solutions to EU health challenges


New concepts for actionable, inclusive and disruptive approaches to progress Europe’s health policies and systems were proposed to policy makers and key opinion leaders by an international group of young professionals at the European Health Parliament’s 5th edition (EHP5) in Brussels on Tuesday 4th February.

A range of new ideas were developed and debated in a hackathon format during the Second Plenary. Participants, who worked closely with a team of qualified coaches, presented their ideas and received feedback from an expert jury. The session enabled them to start drafting their policy recommendations for innovative, actionable and inclusive solutions for what they see as Europe’s most pressing health policy challenges. The winners of the first ever EHP hackathon were the Interconnected Care, Sustainable and Healthy Lifestyles and Mental Health and Healthy workforce Committees.

Jury member Kunegonde Carpentier, Director of External Affairs and Alliances, EMEA at Johnson & Johnson, opened the session by welcoming a stronger youth voice in shaping health policy action in the EU. “Young people, we need you to change the landscape of policymaking on health in Europe, this is the young voice we need.” The meeting sparked refreshing and dynamic discussions between participants in the five Committees, as they interacted to develop ready-to-go policy solutions for pressing challenges in the EU health.

The hackathon engaged participants in competitive, interdisciplinary exchanges on the future health policy in Europe. It was moderated by Dr. Tobias Gantner, Founder & CEO of HealthCare Futurists and Florian Burg, the company’s Project Manager. In the dynamic group exchanges, Committee members defined a key challenge for EU health policy and concrete solutions to tackle it. Five coaches gave guidance, helping to refine ideas and facilitate their strategy development. The coaches David Somekh, Dr. Tobias Gantner, Christian Sorensen, Suzanne Wait and Matthijs Zwier – brought decades of rich healthcare experience to the table, ranging from international networks and think tanks to NGOs and consultancies.

It was clear that despite differing experience levels, working in teams and under pressure as well as receiving immediate feedback after their first pitch was essential for them to be efficient and practical. Usman Khan, jury member and Executive Director at the European Patients’ Forum, stressed that being able to work “with a structure, with a system, for a purpose” is a highly valuable skill to develop for the participants’ future careers. The hackathon’s young professionals represent a wide variety of healthcare sectors, offering all participants a 360-degree perspective on their ideas and proposals.

After a few hours of preparation, each Committee presented their final pitches to the EHP’s world-class jury, which was comprised of: Tomislav Sokol, Member of European Parliament (EPP, Croatia), Maya Matthews, Deputy Head of Unit Strategy and Coordination at DG SANTE, Matthias Wismar, Programme Manager at the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, Kunegonde Carpentier and Usman Khan.

Finally, the moment arrived, where winners were announced:

  • “Most actionable solution” – Mental Health and Healthy Workforce Committee

According to MEP Tomislav Sokol, who said that actionable solutions are his most important criteria, this Committee’s proposal “had a concrete legal reasoning, was very specific and precise”, which he felt made this team’s approach feasible to be implemented at policy level by the European Commission and Parliament.

  • “Most disruptive solution” – Interconnected Care Committee

Awarded for their ambition “to change the behavior of professionals, patients, politicians and administrators” to make a real impact, argued Usman Khan.

  • “Most inclusive solution” – Sustainable and Healthy Lifestyles Committee

Maya Matthews, who gave this award, argued that this team “honed in on the important questions and really called for more youth voice in health”, which she stressed is key for the democracy and future of Europe.

By bringing together and empowering this group of European young professionals, EHP ensures that healthcare is placed at the top of the agenda for putting new policies into action, and that the solutions that are proposed enhance the quality of EU health systems.


Watch the highlights video of the first ever EHP Hackathon below:

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