Tackling NHS challenges at Liverpool Hack Day


Friday 21st September 2012, I attended the Liverpool NHS Hack Day to meet our friends at Integrella. We were presenting our progress from the last Hack Day. Integrella have kick-started a cloud-based project to help NHS staff overcome some thorny communications problems, and were looking for a mobile partner to take it to the pockets of clinicians.

The project is called BleepBleep - an iPhone solution to help doctors, clinicians and nurses share contact details more efficiently.

We spent 2 days with Integrella improving the solution with the feedback of NHS staff at the event.

The event was held in Liverpool, UK.

The NHS might have the largest, most difficult address book to manage in the UK?

There is a problem that nearly every NHS staff member faces on a daily basis - time wasted with switchboard communications.

NHS Staff members currently have the option to ring a switchboard. Not only do NHS switchboards impose long wait times on clinicians, but they regularly hold out of date information.

Problems are increased by bleeper technology. Many bleepers that clinicians carry have a 10 character limit, which means staff must request a return call return. This delays communications and reduces staff productivity in the NHS, causing additional wait times for patients and potentially the NHS budget being spent elsewhere.

BleepBleep, the private but social address book?

BleepBleep is an always-up-to-date address book for NHS staff.

It’s like social media, in that clinicians can contribute information and updates to greatly increase the quality of the data. This takes the burden away from the switchboard, and relies on the much better accuracy of intra-departmental knowledge.

The BleepBleep project was spearheaded by our partner - Integrella (London). PocketWorks are leading the iPhone development part of the project.

The NHS Hack Day was created by geeks that love the NHS and healthcare system. It’s been recognised by masses across the country including doctors, nurses and other staff members.

We had some massive interest.

One Doctor from Nottingham was extremely interested and joined our group on the day. Events like this help us get closer to real users, which helps us achieve far superior results.

People always say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!”

Hack days - an inside-out approach to advancing NHS IT

The Hack Day starts with a problem, usually identified by NHS staff members that pitch this on the first day of the weekend. They have 2 minutes to describe the problem and potential ways they could fix this problem. After the pitch usually they stand around in the Hallway awaiting a clever geek to pick them and fix their problem. Developers get just 2 days to finalise the problem and come up with a solution.

The NHS Hack Day has grown rapidly and hosts over 250 people regularly around the Country. They have fixed many problems in the NHS and continue to thrive on geeky healthcare! When I attended, our proposal was pitched to staff members from the NHS.

Tips when attending a Hack Day

After my experience when attending the NHS Hack Weekend, I came up with a few tips if your thinking about attending next time:

  • Be prepared, very prepared..(expect to be asked questions!)
  • Business Cards, take plenty with you..(lots of very good contacts attend)
  • Wear a recognising T-Shirt, (most people wear normal clothes, try and stand out!)
  • Tweet, FB & Social Networking! (express a buzz prior to attending)
  • Practice a 2 minute pitch, (they are very strict with pitch timings)

How Hack Days could benefit other industries

There is a massive focus currently on the public sector, where worries of budget cuts, wages being dropped or worse workforce cuts!

Hack Days could help many other industries by using clever technologies created by the people who love it most. Let’s take for example the Police Sector, nearly 2 hours per Police Officer is spent dealing with Paperwork, could a simple piece of technology reduce this to 1 hour?

  • This would increase Police time 1 hour per Police Officer (17,265 extra hours per day!)
  • This could help increase more Police Officer recruitment!

We feel that Hack Day’s could be a massive drive going forward in our slipped economy!