Diverse minds, shared interest

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So what is a hackathon?

A hackathon is a unique, interactive , energised, multi-professional, practical two day event that brings together professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds to work collaboratively at pace to solve problems together.

Who attended? Anyone who felt they had the ability to work as part of a team and produce a winning solution to problems care homes are facing today.

Multiple perspectives

  • The Collaborate to Improve Care Hackathon, which was held on July 13th and 14th at the Jury's Inn in Liverpool, brought together 150 delegates more than half (58.5%) of whom were clinical and non clinical staff from the NHS. A further 41% were entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, IT specialists and academics, bringing new approaches, expertise, knowledge and skills to the table.

    The delegates came from all points north and south - the North West, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Tyneside, Hertfordshire and London. They included representatives from the six Enhanced Health in Care Homes vanguard sites which are:

    • Connecting Care – Wakefield District
    • Gateshead Care Home Project
    • East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group
    • Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group
    • Sutton Homes of Care
    • Airedale & Partners

    The delegates' brief was to form teams in order to develop innovative, disruptive ideas and solutions to specific issues affecting care home patients within a limited time frame. By bringing together diverse minds with a shared interest in solving one of healthcare’s biggest challenges in this way, the event enabled problems to be diagnosed from a multiplicity of perspectives.

    The NHS is one of the largest organisations to stage a hackathon, the concept for which was developed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) who trained staff from the Innovation Agency to manage and run this unique event in the NHS.

How the Hackathon worked

  • Day 1

    Day 1

    The first day opened with a networking session to enable delegates to get to know one another. Keynote presentations from Deputy Chief Scientific Officer Dr Fiona Carragher and William Roberts, National Care Homes Programme Lead, New Care Models Team, NHS England, set the scene.

    Participants were then asked to suggest particular problems and issues relating to care homes that could be tackled over the ensuing two days. Each individual had 60 seconds to outline his or her topic and in all 24 pitches were made.

    Over lunch, delegates were encouraged to link up with an individual whose pitch appealed to them and create informal teams. During this process, the 24 problems were whittled down to 14 either because some ideas did not get support or because some problems and issues were amalgamated.

    Multidisciplinary teams, typically made up of about six people, were formed by individuals who did not necessarily know one another. The teams, which were small enough to make progress, took the rest of the day, and in many cases late into the evening, to thrash out solutions to the issues and problems they had identified. They were able to draw on a wide range of resources both on and offline and were supported by hackathon mentors drawn from business, industry including aerospace, the care home sector, IT, innovation technology and communications..

    Day 2

    Each team, of which there were 14, delivered a practice pitch on Day 2 to all delegates on its chosen problem and solution. Team members then refined their presentations before delivering them to a panel of judges who chose a winner and two runners up.


    Teams which made final presentations:

    • Qwackers
    • Sense and Sensibility
    • Team Hodor
    • We Are 6A
    • The F Word
    • Joy
    • Better Together
    • Waste Not, Want Not
    • Empower Rangers
    • Digital Divas and Dudes
    • Jumping Jack
    • Mythbusters
    • The Team
    • Maradona
  • Judging criteria

    1. Health Impact: Does the solution have the potential for widespread public health impact? Does it address an important challenge identified?

    2. Innovation: How technologically innovative and creative is the solution ('better/faster/cheaper')? Does the team provide a convincing rationale for why their solution may work, and do they address significant technical issues relevant to their problem?

    3. Business Model: Does the project have a sustainable business model? Does the team demonstrate plans to incorporate end-user feedback?

    4. Presentation: How effective was the presentation? Does this team have what it takes to carry on the project and implement it (e.g. cross-disciplinary expertise in technology development, clinical medicine and business/implementation)?

    Winner and runners up

    The winning team was Sense and Sensibility and the two runners up were Waste Not, Want Not and Mythbusters.