Last weekend was the 13th NHS Hack Day (#nhshd) – superbly organised and hosted in London by Helen Jackson (@DeckOfPandas) – and the 2nd #nhshd that I’ve attended.
My first #nhshd was in Manchester last year where a small group of us hacked an idea to help medical students get access to more hands-on learning opportunities – we called it SLOT (Supervised Learning Opportunities by Text). We agreed to continue with the project on after the hack day and we’ve just started a trial at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh – we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we get some interesting results.
There have been several blogs published since last week describing what it’s like to attend a NHS Hack Day and I think they’ve done a pretty good job – so I’m going to avoid repeating the same things and link to a few of them instead:
There were many excellent ideas pitches and I was really encouraged by the number of ideas that were focused on making a tangible change to the way and ease with which people can do their work.
I arrived with no preconceptions about the type of idea I would work on – only that I would actively avoid anything that was focused around sending people text messages (I’ve hacked around this a few times now).
I was particularly excited by a couple of the ideas:
- The first was an idea to hack a real anaesthetic machine (brought to the venue) to get data from it directly and do useful things with it – we were told that currently information is normally transcribed manually from the machine to the patient records.
- The second was an idea to hack an easily-deployable patient observation system which can be used in the field during health emergencies where you don’t have reliable power and connectivity – the example used was the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa where using paper to record observations was both impractical and an infection risk.
The idea that I was ultimately drawn to was from Adhiraj who is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist working in London. He described a frustrating situation faced by clinicians working in mental health all over the country. We ended up prototyping a solution to help locate available mental health beds, and automate the process of requesting and accepting referrals.
We managed to demonstrate a working prototype by the end, and were lucky enough to be placed in the top three by the judges! A very satisfying end to the weekend 🙂