The first Health Hack Northern Ireland event held last weekend was won by a group of clinicians and developers who created a mental health information app.
Inspired by NHS Hack Day, Kainos chief technology officer Tom Gray created Health Hack NI and brought together around 40 doctors, developers and designers.
The weekend event in Belfast saw clinicians presenting their ideas and the challenges they face in their jobs before teaming up with skilled, volunteer technology enthusiasts.
Gray said he had been very nervous ahead of the event, but he was happy with the result.
“We had been concerned that it wouldn’t get a lot of clinical engagement, but it was good seeing the number of health professionals working together on how we can develop health services to the public,” he said.
The attendees grouped together to brainstorm and produce a range of projects that were submitted to a judging panel. The judges included Sloan Harper, director of integrated care Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board, Yashu Reddy, director at Healthbox Europe and two university professors.
The winning development was called “MindMateNI”, an app focused on providing mental health information and contact details on how to get immediate access to help.
“At the end of the day we had prototypes on 3 different platforms: iPhone, Blackberry and Android,” said Gray.
He added that he was encouraged by the simplicity of the app and said there was no reason why it shouldn’t be on the market soon.
“Building it seems achievable. The cash price provided by Kainos was there to take the idea forward. I’d love for us to have something available on the market in three months.”
HealthHack NI was inspired by the NHS Hack Day 2012, but was focused on the challenges facing Northern Ireland.
“I think in Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the world, we’re seeing significant challenges in healthcare. Innovation in healthcare is a key focus,” said Gray.
“We’re starting to see a much more tech savvy population and this is a further challenge for the HSC and healthcare providers globally.
“New tech and innovation is essential. With this hack day we now have clinicians who are a lot more focused on what they’re asking for and how it works. “
Gray was so enthused by the event, he is already looking into taking it forward and creating another hack day.
A team led by Dr Nigel Hart won the Patient Care Improvement award with “SecondOpinion”, an online collaboration system, making it easier for doctors to get a second opinion on a diagnosis without making a referral.
Currently, the only way is to make a referral, which can be a long process and could leave patients waiting for weeks for a new appointment. The system allows a doctor to get a second opinion much more efficient through simply asking other members.
The commercial potential award was won by a group who created “PillBox”, a cloud based prescription management system.