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There were 29 entries in the competition, run by the Southern District Health Board.
University of Otago researcher Kristina Aluzaite won the chief executive award for her proposal to alter lights inside hospitals.
In wards, patients were exposed to artificial lights which typically did not change, she said.
"With natural light in the morning you have a blue light, in the evening it becomes orange-ish."
This change in light dictated when people ate and slept, she said.
"If you’re someone who’s ill, or elderly, or recovering, you need a good night’s sleep."
She would go into partnership with the health board to trial a system which dimmed lights to different wavelengths in the evenings.
SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said it was great timing, as if the trial was successful the idea could be incorporated into the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.
The staff priority award went to an initiative to set up simulated scenarios around hospitals for staff to practise medical events.
One of the initiative’s backers, emergency registrar Layla Hehir, said it would help staff learn new skills and test new equipment.
The oncology and haematology team won the main prize, receiving $9000 towards a research project with the goal of piloting the delivery of chemotherapy at home.
The patient priority award went to a proposal which involved getting patients fit for surgery and the community priority award went to a project to get complex information out quickly to a large number of people using an online communication platform.