Hacking the NHS

Not the mean kind of hacking. The good kind. I’m going to go to my very first Hack Weekend in May 2012, and it’s all about hacking the NHS.  The aim of a hack day is to find quick and dirty solutions to problems that technology can fully or partially solve. They don’t have to be finished, and they don’t even have to use real data – they just have to illustrate the possibilities.

Now, leaving aside the salient political point that we may not have an NHS relatively soon, I’m wondering what it’s going to be like to go to a hack day as a designer / user-experience type, rather than a coder or developer. What value can I bring? As a designer will I be expected merely to Make Things Pretty? Because I’m much more in favour of making things useful.

I want to:

  • Collect stories
    Are you a healthcare professional or a recent patient? Can you give me an account of a recent day in the office / ward / surgery?
  • Identify sticking points
    If you’re one of the above and you’ve come up against barriers in your job or in the service you’ve had – whether it’s little ones you’ve pushed through, or big ones you’re constantly pushing against – please tell me!
  • Identify how current technology could be improved
    Could existing systems be made better, or put in better places?
  • Find the right tools for the job
    Are tablets and smart phones the right way to go? Money, hygiene, opportunities for use all have to be looked at. Would voice activated systems be better or worse? In a clinical or emergency environment, how does technology usage change?

If you can help or know healthcare professionals who’d be interested in getting involved, please pass this post on.

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Corinne Pritchard

Corinne Pritchard

Information Designer at Simply Understand
I believe design and designers can and should make the world a better place. I love designing things that help people understand complex ideas.
Corinne Pritchard

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3 thoughts on “Hacking the NHS

  1. Well, I work as a community mental health nurse with older adults. A recent typical day in the office is as follow:-
    On an average, one day a week, I am on the on call rota. This means that I have to stay in the office instead of visiting clients in their home in case there is an urgent referral which requires the on call person to go out and assess the client.
    Besides this, on this day, I have to triage new referrals and that involves almost checking the computer for this. When a new referral is received by the admin, she puts it on our jade mail system so the on call person sees it when she checks the system, then she reads it and then deals with it accordingly.
    One can almost become OCD checking this throughout the day. I think for now I have time only to explain this part of my day.

    1. Thank you! That’s really helpful. If anything else occurs to you please post another comment. It would be good to know if you only have your desk computer to check emails with – and if you’re usually away from your desk or pretty much there all the time?

  2. Yes, I have to get back to the office to check my emails and jade mails. I do not have a smart phone. Other than the on call day, I organise my own work and visits and when I am at the office.
    One other challenge is when I have a visit towads the end of the day so I will only be able to enter information of my visit the next day and if it’s a Friday, it would have to be next Mon. However, if the visit is a response to an urgent call, then it is in my interest to return to office to enter info in case any untoward incident happens to the client I visited.
    Admin work is not cost effective because clinicians are employed for clinical work n spending a considerable time doing admin work. When I have written a letter I have to weigh it,stick stamp and take it upsstair where the admin is and leave the letter in the out tray. Alternatively, I could take it across the road to the post box.
    It’s quite disruptive to do any serious writing because of the noise level i.e phone ringing, colleagues talking loudly on the phone because a client may be hard of hearing, colleagues talking to each other or interupting to ask a question calling across from their desks, kettle boiling etc etc….
    That’s it for now.

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