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BCS supports 17th NHS Hack Day

An early dementia diagnosis app and a system to help medical students prepare for exams are just some of the ideas that came to life when doctors, patients and students got together with software developers and designers at a recent NHS Hack Day at The Federation in Manchester.

Supported by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, NHS Hack Days are run by volunteers passionate about improving NHS technology for everyone’s benefit. Each event takes place over a weekend and involve teams of coders, clinicians, designers and developers collaborating to try and solve problems and frustrations they face in their working lives.

Jon Jeffery, BCS Health and Care Programme Manager says: “We are very proud to support NHS Hack Days which give people from all walks of life and professions the opportunity to brainstorm ideas and turn them into solutions. The aim is to help healthcare professionals do their jobs, to improve access to services and information for patients, to improve the communication and dissemination of public health data, and generally to support any ideas that could improve everyone’s experiences of the healthcare system.”

Dr Marcus Baw, an NHS Hack Day founder explains: “It’s an unofficial software development day for the NHS which allows us to step outside our everyday constraints - as clinicians and techies. It lets us come together and focus on some new problems. Quite often, as resource strained clinicians, we don’t get time to consider the nicer stuff, but NHS Hack Day gives us an opportunity to think about the fun things. We can spend two days learning about the problem and building a solution.”

Dr Baw continues: “Hack Days generally enable the creation of products and ideas that can potentially help the NHS change the way it provides health and social care. The events begin with attendees pitching their ideas. After the pitch phase, people naturally coalesce around ideas they like. They form teams, pool their skills and begin work. After two days of collaboration teams present their work to the whole group.” 

Matt Doyle, a student social worker, who attended with an idea, but no technical skills said: “NHS Hack Day is awesome. I like to be creative and I like to break things, but I don’t know how to code. I thought I’d just give it a go.” Matt’s idea became Mobi-Alarm - a mobile app that lets lone social workers call for help if a home visit becomes challenging.

Hack Day Manchester saw 12 projects come to life, including:

  • Mobi-Alarm: Lone working among social workers is a growing trend and runs parallel with drives to keep people in their own homes. This can lead to social workers finding themselves in difficult situations. Mobi-Alarm allows social workers to send a very discrete ‘help’ message back to base.
  • TYME Capture: Test Your Memory Electronically in an early dementia diagnosis app. By taking regular voice prints, early signs of cognitive decline can be picked up and interventions made early.
  • Margo/TeachMeMed: An Alexa-based system designed to help medical students prepare for their exams.
  • Beaconified patients: A push service that uses location aware beacon location technology to provide patients with highly targeted and relevant content.​

The next NHS Hack Day will take place in Cardiff, in January - the date will be confirmed on nhshackday.com

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