The intent is good, the name–Hackfest–is unfortunate (Updated)

click to enlargeGiven another Big Blue Cross data breach (below), the juxtaposition of a release from Intel-GE Care Innovations is, how do we say, jarring. A great trumpeting of a prestige event 18-20 September in conjunction with the Stanford Center on Longevity on the Stanford University campus. “Inspiring a reconfigured care delivery process bringing care to the home and uniting patients, family caregivers and professional caregivers with the traditional clinical care team.” which will “…change the status quo. The event will bring together clinicians and care providers, health plan leaders, family and professional caregivers, patients, designers, engineers, students and faculty to explore the meaning and definition of a care team.” Yes they can be ‘hack(ing) a strategy to redefine the care team’…but given the tens of millions of health records hacked, breached and stolen in this year alone, is this the best name Stanford and Care Innovations could think of?  ‘Hackfests’ and ‘hackathons’ usually are coding or programming competitions, which long predate the negative use of ‘hack’ for malicious entry into systems. Even events in that context are increasingly met with raised eyebrow.

‘Hackfest’ for this is a stretch. Message to both: care teams need redefining, but it’s time for a better, and more descriptive, name. A ‘****-palooza’ (a voguish term in US), anyone?

Update: A Care Innovations spokesperson and this Editor had a Twitter conversation–a TweetFest, so to speak:

click to enlarge

Readers–what do you think? Is this Editor overly sensitive to the ‘h’ word? She might be…click on the title to see Comments.

Categories: Events and Latest News.


  1. The word Hack in Hackathons and Hackfests is not just about coding.

    The life hacking movement is about hacking life.
    There have been hackathons and hackfests around design, transgender issues, comedy and more that have little to do with code necessarily. Most hackathons and hackfests are also populated by academics, designers, UX and UI specialists, entrepreneurs and strategists who make up part of the teams who participate.

    The raised eyebrows don’t come from anyone under 30 usually and this is what the millennials and youth call short term innovation events that are gamified.

    They are hack events. Get used to it. It’s in Wikipedia. It’s clear. It’s not bad.

  2. I’m with Richard Donna… a big ‘yawn’ fwiw.

    Dysfunctional roots of healthcare borg well beyond labels. Lots of disruption (hacking) before we tame the best.

    Jury out on telemedicine/telehealth despite much industry cheer-leading. Show me the data it actually adds value to triple aim, vs. line pocket of well intentioned entrepreneurs. The borg often has its way…

    Move on?

  3. Donna CusanoDonna Cusano

    Thank you for your comment. While the original use was hip and trendy, and gradually got applied to areas other than code and programming, the fact remains that ‘hack’ and ‘hacking’ have for some time gone negative in common use. I’ve been part of the health/tech community for nearly 10 years, as a marketer and writer/editor, and have observed the shift of meaning. Sad but true. My colleagues of various ages, in areas as diverse as program development, IT and data analytics, have also noted the shift–and there are fewer events I see in the US which are dubbed ‘hacka*****”. ‘Datapalooza’ seems to be one of the substitutes. That is why this event stood out.

    I realize that you have invested in the ‘hack’ name for your company (The Hackitarians) but if your database, PHI or identity were one of the tens of millions hacked by a Chinese or Russian black hat hacker (and that is what they are called), I doubt you’d be so sanguine.

    From what I see, many if not most of those who would attend your events, and/or pay for them, are going to be over 30. You’ll have to get used to our opinions even if somewhat less than hip.


    Healthcare may be dysfunctional, but hacking and vulnerability to it makes it far worse.

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