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

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.

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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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