Thursday, 9 January 2014

I'm proud to be hacking the NHS. Come and help me.

In a few weeks James Morgan and I are hosting NHS Hack Day in Cardiff. Over 100 'geeks who love the NHS' will be coming together on January 25th and 26th  to come up with tech solutions to the problems facing NHS patients and staff.  Whoever you are, if you care about making the NHS better then you can help at NHS Hack Day. Sign up here.

Hacking the NHS? Isn't that a bad thing to do?

No! Hacking is a good thing. It's about making things better and solving problems.Back in the day people at MIT  started using the  word hack: "When one did something ingenious and clever and unthought of with some technology, it was known as a good hack." Hacking is NOT about breaking into databases and stealing your information (that's 'cracking'  not hacking). We will be using databases of information at NHS Hack Day. But the databases will have been made freely available to all of us because people know that when you set data free then people can do great things with it. The databases won't be health records of individuals, but information about services so that we can figure out ways to solve problems. This is called "civic hacking"- and you can learn more about it in this short video and this article.

What is NHS Hack Day? 

First of all, NHS Hack Days are two days- a Saturday and a Sunday. They happen 3 times a year. So far there have been hack days in London, Liverpool, Oxford and Cambridge. We are very proud that this is the first NHS Hack Day in Wales. NHS Hack Days are non-profit events. The people who attend are all giving up their time for free because they love the NHS and want to make things better for all of us who use the NHS.

Who should come to an NHS Hack Day?

Two kinds of people are needed. First of all we need people with IT skills- techies- people who can write computer programmes and make different computer programmes work together. You will hear these people being called coders or developers. We need people who can design. Designers make it easier for us to use things whether services or software.
But we also need people who know what kinds of problems we need to solve- people who understand the systems of the NHS. These people are 'domain experts'. Some of these people will be health professionals- nurses, physios, health care assistants, doctors, students. But there are other people who understand the systems of the NHS- the people who have to use it, patients and the public. We need you too. You are also a 'domain expert. You can tell us what problems we need to solve. And you can help to solve them as well.

What  happens at NHS Hack Day?
There are three stages:

Pitches What do you think we could do better? What problem would you like us to solve in less than 2 days?  You have 1 minute to tell others about it. So no slides. Just stand up and tell everyone what you want to do. Does that sound nerve-wracking? What happens if you are not sure if your idea might be achievable, or if someone has done it already (they might have- but that means you might be able to make their solution even better)?

All the people who come to NHS Hack Days are very nice and friendly but I think it can be a little bit scary to stand up in front of everyone and ask them to work on your idea so if you think you have an idea and you want to chat it over with some other people first why don't you come along to our 'Library Meeting'. It's in Canton Library at 7pm on Wednesday 22nd January. If you would like to come to this please sign up here
After the meeting we will be going to Chapter cafe bar at 8.30pm so you can come and join us there if 7pm is too early. We will  be organising a pre-meet in London as well.

You can also join the email list and write about your idea or solution there.

The Hacking
From about 11am on Saturday until 3pm on Sunday people will be trying to solve these problems sitting around tables with laptops in front of them and chatting with each other. We will form teams - those who know what the problem is and those who can help to solve it- working together. This is a form of co-production. 

The Presentations
From 3-5pm on Sunday teams will present the solutions to the problems they have been working on. This session is amazing because it is incredible what smart people can achieve in just over a day when they put their mind to it.

Below is a video made at the NHS Hack Day in Liverpool in 2012 that shows you what all of this looks like together. If you think that NHS Hack Day might be for you then you should come. Sign up here.

Any questions? Just ask!

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