NHS Hackday has been going for 3 years but this was their 12th hack. The concept is simple enough: bring people together that care about the NHS and want to make changes. Like most hacks, the difficulty is finding the balance of techy and developers vs people who have ideas.
As Open Community Lab is trying to expand outside of a museum focus (but still have our museum remixes), Mark Macleod and I went along to learn. This was the first time I was a participant and what an eye opener!
The format is similar:
- You mingle
- You pitch (if you want to)
- You decide what team you want to be on
- You work your butt off all weekend to create something.
That was the easy part. What I didn’t appreciate was the amount of NHS staff that would come with very specific issues they deal with on a daily basis and changes they want to make but don’t know how to go about it. Without a medical background (other than a frequent visitor due to being blessed with clumsiness) I thought I’d be out of my depth. However, each prototype or team needs a person that can help ground the ideas with ‘people experience’.
The teams are listed here with their presentations can be found here. As you can see, some are app based, others web-based and others ideas that are still taking shape – but that is the beauty of these events – no one thing is wrong. Identifying and addressing an issue is always more important than building a prototype. The prototype (to me) is the process.
I didn’t go on a team right away – instead I talked to Ranjit who pitched an idea related to his concept of the People’s Marathon (I’ll get more into that at a later post) but the idea is that his app would encourage people to walk for a 100 day (no distance quota needed). I felt this was something: a) museums and health and well being could tap into and b) Open Community Lab might be able to help with. Thanks to NHS Hack – we’re keeping the conversation going and he’ll be talking at our next meetup.
Mark went to the team that was working on the NHS Hackday website so I slotted myself onto that team (all the other ones were deep in conversations by the time I got there and while very welcoming scary with the medical terms).
NHS Hackday website wanted a new design – Mark and I felt we could help with UX at the very least. The team consisted of Helen who pitched it and runs NHS Hack in London, several students who are learning coding and Mark and I.
After reviewing the current website and deciding on a proof concept to work with, it was time for get working. The first job was to read the copy and make it consistent. Ok, we can do that. Next step was coding. Awkward as now I’m back to being out of my depth. However, this weekend is to get people to learn new skills also! Very patiently, they had us create new Github accounts and taught us some coding. [I used to code years ago but never had confidence in it – it was wonderful to know some of the skills from 20 years ago still worked today!]. Over the weekend we managed to get a website going – it’s not complete but thanks to Paul Clarke helping with wonderful pictures and a template that gave us a lovely look, I’m pretty proud of what was achieved.
If you have a chance to get involved with an NHS in your area – do it!
And if you’d like to get involved with Open Community Lab – do that also! We have a meetup this month in Birmingham (February 28th) and run free workshops throughout the year. We’re also planning a museum remix for October in London (to be confirmed). Every skill is needed: from graphic designers, coders, developers, fab lab, social media, huggers, UX, and people who have ideas. Basically we like everyone (hence the OPEN COMMUNITY part of our name….)